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South Florida Sunshine: 1969 Datsun 1600 Roadster

1969 Datsun 1600 Roadster

Yes, Virginia, Datsun did make sports cars before the 240Z. And they were good ones! While this isn’t the more desirable larger-engined 2000, the 1600 is a nice convertible in its own right. Thanks to Jim S for spotting this one that’s located in Miami, Florida and is offered here on eBay with a buy-it-now of $2695.95.

Datsuns at Daytona

Both the 1600 and 2000 were known for their successful competition results. Featuring similar pricing and styling to the MGB but offering more sophistication, the roadsters were crucial in changing Datsun’s image to a more sporty one, which later allowed them to introduce the 240Z to a receptive audience.

1969 Datsun 1600

This particular roadster has led a bit of a tough life up to this point as evidenced by the body issues apparent in this picture. After a claimed 20 years of storage, there are a few spots of rust, the most visible of which are on the floor pans and the driver’s door. All major trim appears to be present, although I’m pretty sure the wheel covers are from a later Datsun, maybe a B210.

1969 Datsun 1600 Interior

The interior pictures leave something to be desired, but then again, so does the interior. I don’t think this would be the car to choose if you’re looking for a perfect car, but for a bit of cheap fun this might be just the ticket.

1969 Datsun 1600 Engine

The 1600 cc OHV engine is said to run well with no smoke, and features two Hitachi carburetors built under license from SU. The factory aluminum valve cover would really set this compartment off once things were cleaned up. With 96 horsepower it should move the relatively rare (2530 produced in 1969) roadster with ample speed.

1969 Datsun 1600 Parts

A lot of other components come with the car, including the missing sun visors, top frame, factory jack and original seat belts. There’s also a new top yet to be installed, interior panels that are being refurbished and new hydraulic components that haven’t been hooked up yet.

1969 Datsun 1600 Front End

Looking closely at the front of the car, the bumper should be savable despite the rust, but the crooked grill, cracked panel next to the headlight and mis-aligned panels worry me a little. Then I look at the price and I think I could live with some crooked panels! I’ve gone this route with several ‘cheap and cheerful’ Triumphs over the years and may have had more fun with those than the nicer ones. So are you interested?


  1. Mike

    Bring your magnet! Having lived in Miami I know they like to spread BONDO. R quarter has signs of being gooped up with this miracle rust repair stuff.

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  2. Tirefriar

    Sold… To the best offer… Good deal, I imagine $2500 took it. Strong following and abundance of parts (and parts cars). Although these Datsuns are often compared to MG, it’s refinement in terms of engineering move these closer to Alfa’s 105 Spider.

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  3. DT


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  4. Tim H

    I am always glad when I see the respect these have now. I can count four 2k roadsters in my past and 4 1600s. There was no respect for them back then, even when we beat the Brit’s they would claim that Roadsters were just a copy and had no soul. I could never quite figure out how a car could have a soul but I knew I didn’t like it when they said that mine didn’t have one. The car culture can be hard on people who follow a different path.

    Now I look outside and I find four Miatas in my driveway, does a Miata have a soul?

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  5. DT

    They have a soul in the fact that they are a natural progression of British roadsters.I never liked them at all. They fell apart as you drove them.Datsuns have always been faster than Toyotas,but from my perspective Toyotas are superior,and when Toyota wants to make a car go fast ,they are capable of doing that.It only makes sense to me that an upgrade to a British car is a Japanese motor.Most Japanese cars were basicly upgraded British designs anyway.I would take a 2000 over a MGB,either way keep your tools with you.

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  6. Tirefriar

    Another good reason to ask a question “What happened to Datsun/Nissan?” Progressing from really cool cars to junk that they offer today (GTR excluded). Even the 370Z was a butchered half assed attempt at reviving the revered Z moniker….

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  7. Dolphin Member

    Mike is right—the seller says ‘straightforward restoration’ and ‘easy to redo’ but there will be a lot of metalwork if you want it to be done right with metal and no bondo, then a complete in-and-out repaint. Sounds like the floors will need replacing for the car to have safe seat mountings. The engine might run, but apart from the radiator, which might have been redonditioned or maybe just rattle-can painted, I think there will be a lot of work to do to get the systems working properly.

    These are plentiful and there should be enough around to choose from so you could get a good one for a better price than the $2.5 K paid for this + the cost of making it safe and reliable to drive and have a decent body and paint.

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    • Alan (Michigan)

      +1 Mike, +1 Dolphin

      No, no, NO!

      I have seen this kind of thing before, and it just smacks of it: A quite rusty car is partially disassembled, bondo is slathered all over with haphazard sanding/finishing/priming, and a quickie paint job completes the imporvement in appearance. That is, to anyone who has no idea what they are looking at…

      The bondo cracked next to the left headlight, and a chunk fell out. The front is as crooked as can be… The photo of the trunk makes it look as though someone painted over severe pitting in the sheet metal, but more likely it was bubbly Bondo…

      The right side of the car… Oops, the seller took a couple of “too good” photos… it is ALL filler, and poorly done at that. The rear fender lip is all plastic, no metal left there. From my perspective, someone took a $400 car, spent a couple of days and a hundred dollars on it, and is going for 5X the investment….. If only there were a couple of photos of the car “before” it was spiffed and rattle-canned.

      I would bet on severe corrosion underside, and questionable suspension and brakes. It will take many thou$and$ to turn this into anything nice. Right now it might be a decent “20 footer”, but up close, or attempting to drive it… =:^0

      Someone bought it before the auction ended. I hope he has a realistic idea of what he has gotten into. Otherwise, disappointment!

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      • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

        Nice summation, Alan! Agreed on all counts.

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  8. Paul B

    Yeah, Tim H., your Miatas have soul and so does mine, and so did your Datsuns. Very soulful, as far as I’m concerned. Not every Japanese car is a Toyopet Crown, and by like token not every British car is an Austin Cambridge and not every Italian car a Fiat 2300 Automatic. Follow your own path with eyes and ears open and you can find some good souls.

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    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      @Paul…well stated. I’ll add that different cars speak to different people as well…I’m sure there’s some happy, long-term Austin Cambridge owner out there that would swear that they have soul, too :-)

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      • Tim H

        Thanks Guys. Maybe it is the love we give to our cars that give them a soul.
        Maybe I don’t have the right or the need to judge your wife, your kids or your car as being worthy of the love you give them.

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  9. cory

    well, its encouraging to see the price this went for. I guess I need to get mine out and clean it up a little.

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    • Alan (Michigan)

      There ya go….
      Take off a bunch of parts, bondo up the rusty areas, and rattle-can color it. No need to put any of the parts back, and no problem if some are missing. Instant $!


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  10. Ken Nelson

    Has to be the worst photography I’ve seen – does the seller know his camera has a flash? Then again, all sorts of details hint at a Bondo Special with care taken to show as little as possible, plus the Fla. heat has cooked all the soft stuff. The first ones were “fairladys”, but they appeared better put together to me than the UK cars they copied – didn’t leak oil, ran well
    and looked good. The Japanese may have copied a lot of the British stuff, but I was really surprised when I came across a Kawasaki nut for nut & bolt for bolt copy of my ’54 Beezer Super Rocket 650 twin, yet the Kaw didn’t leak, didn’t give you carpal tunnel from vibration, and ran like stink. That impressed me no end.

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  11. Ian in BC

    You are right about the aluminum valve cover. I saw a Datsun roadster at our Cars in the Park show here in town. The owners had polished it using wet and dry sandpaper. What I found interesting was that they had used Ivory soap in the rinse water. The end result was quite stunning, making the engine bay look really nice.

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