1966 Datsun 1600 Sports Car / Photos, Specs, Model History

The early Datsun Roadsters were imported to compete with the many thousands of British sports cars that had flooded the U.S. market. The British car invasion of the 1950's was also the main reason behind the development of the Chevy Corvette and Ford Thunderbird.

datsun 1600

1966 Datsun 1600

Nissan / Datsun

Datsun was owned by Nissan since 1934. The automaker that Nissan took over was named DAT Motor Car Company whose roots went all the way back to 1914 when they were selling full size automobiles.Later they produced a small car named Datson before becoming Datsun after Nissan took control.

The first imported Datsuns arrived in the U.S. in 1958. The first sports car produced by Datsun was the 1959 S211. This model delivered only 40 HP and was a very limited production vehicle. Only twenty were built. The following year, Datsun came out with the S212 that produced 50 horsepower. The next year in 1961 horsepower was turned up to 60 using dual carburetors. One similarity of the earliest roadsters were their lower windscreen that gave them a much sleeker and sportier look.

It's important to note that the Datsun sports cars and particularly the 1966 Datsun 1600 Roadster firmly established Datsun as a real player in the U.S. auto market.

The Datsun Fairlady

The Datsun sports car was named the "Fairlady" in Japanese and Australian markets. The Fairlady name was used as a link to the very popular Broadway play.

datsun sports carsThe 1966 Datsun 1600s

The 1966 Datsun 1600 had a 1.6 liter 4 cylinder engine producing 96 HP. The following year Datsun would increase engine size to 2.0 liters with 135 HP.

The early Datsun 1600 Roadsters were called MGB killers and for good reason, not only because of their good sporty looks but also because of their superior performance. It's been said that the Datsun 1600 copied the MGB design however the real story is that the Datsun sports car came out a few months prior to the MGB.

The Datsun roadsters would ultimately lead to the creation of the Z cars.

Datsun Racing

The Datsun 1600 had a degree of racing success. You'll see some of these Datsun 1600 racers today, some being offered for sale. Most of these out there today are the smaller displacement 1500 and 1600 models. The 2000  2.0 liter model didn’t become available until mid 1967 and was essentially built for racing with it's two SU carburetors. The 2.0 liter Datsun was produced until 1970 when the first 240 Z car was introduced. The new Z Series became the sports car favorite for decades after replacing this great looking little roadster.

Datsun racing successes include winning the Safari Rally seven times. The Safari Rally takes place in East Africa and began in 1953.

Datsun, active in competition in Japan and elsewhere, entered American racing competition in 1966. That year Datsun raced 1500 and 1600 model roadsters at Vineland, New Jersey and their SPL310 at the Los Angeles County Fair. In 1966 Datsun also began financially supporting a few racing groups. The racing budget increased significantly in 1967 and more racers were becoming involved with Datsun including an ex employee of Carroll Shelby.

The Datsun 1600's did not have as much autocross and SCCA race-winning history as their 2.0 liter relatives nevertheless the 1600's are still fun vehicles in that can give you great performance.

datsun 1600 dashboard

66 Datsun 1600 dash

1966 Datsun 1600 Specifications

As mentioned above, the 1966 Datsun 1600 was built with a 1.6 liter Inline 4 cylinder engine delivering a rated 96 HP. Factory rated top speed was 103 MPH. Most will say that the Datsun 1.6 liter engine has a reputation for reliability.

Transmission was a 5 speed manual floor shift with synchromesh on all forward gears.

Brakes included front discs and rear drums.

Suspension included a double wishbone and semi-eliptic leaf springs.

Dimensions include a wheelbase of 89.8 inches..an overall length of 155.6 inches..a width of 58.9 inches..height of 51.6 inches. Curb weight is 2,028 lbs.

Total production of the Datsun 1600 left hand drive vehicles were 26,425 units.

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datsun 1600 roadsterReference material for this article and excellent books regarding the Datsun sports cars include...Datsun Roadsters: 1960-71 Performance Portfolio by author R.M. Clarke...Datsun Fairlady Roadster to 280 ZX : The Z-Car Story by author Brian Long... The Japanese Auto Industry by Michael Cusamano.

1966 Datsun 1600 Valuations

The Datsun 1600 Roadster is a fun and affordable little sports car. Compared to MG, Fiat and Triumph, however, you'll find that there are less of them available. Accidents and rust have diminished the numbers over the decades. Many will say that Datsun Roadsters were very susceptible to corrosion.

As of this date, prices asked for the Datsun 1600 Roadster range from about $12,000 to $30,000. These would be typical prices for models from very good to perfect condition. Perfect condition vehicles would be those professionally restored in all areas of the automobile.

(Article and photos copyright 2016 Auto Museum Online)



A Restored 1971 Datsun 240Z

It was the Datsun Z cars that brought people into it's dealer showrooms in droves. This was the automobile that added pep to Datsun's line of cars. The Datsun 240 Z had a new car price of about $3,500 and for that money you had a well built performance automobile. While Datsun liked to call their car a personal GT model, the 240 Z was a sports car and a really good one. The car featured in our article is a 1971 Datsun 240 Z. The 240 Z was built for four model years, 1970 through 1973.

1971 datsun 240 z

1971 Datsun 240 Z

Datsun and Nissan

Datsun is a brand owned by the Nissan Motor Company. While Datsun models began being produced in 1931, from 1958 to 1986, only the models exported by Nissan were named Datsun. In a way the names were interchangeable. In the U.S. during this time they were Datsuns.

What Made the Datsun 240 Z  A Big Winner

In short, the answer to this is quality plus a relatively low price. The people who purchased Datsun 240 Z's generally were people who could not afford a Porsche or a Jaguar. The Datsun 240Z's delivered competent engineering and styling and better than average performance. Add to that a low price of about $3,500 and you had a winning combination.

restored 240 Z

Sharp styling of the 240 Z

The original body shell of the 240 Z continued on with the 260 Z and 280 Z models although with larger displacement engines. Many will say that the handling of the 240 Z's was much better than with the later two models that had heavy and clumsy bumpers due to new safety regulations which added weight to the car. Because of this power steering was almost mandatory.

Auto writers of the period gave thumbs up to the new Datsun 240 Z and this never hurts sales. The Datsun 240 Z was Japan's answer to the British Jaguar.

Nissan Buys Old 1970's Z Models

Nissan did a very unique thing. In 1996 they went out and bought as many straight and clean Datsun 240 Z models they could round up. Four California restorers did ground up restorations on the cars. Each 240Z  was examined, stripped and reconditioned, then dipped and painted in colors as close to original hues as possible. Engines were sent to Texas, and transmissions to North Carolina for rebuilding. Finally the cars were sent on a 200 mile test drive to make certain they ran like new. Odometers of the cars, by law, were not reset.

There were some 200 cars involved in this project and Nissan chose ten dealerships that were called "Z Stores" that would retail the automobiles. The cars were restored to such an original new condition that Nissan gave buyers a 12 month / 12,000 mile warranty which was the same as the one given to the car when originally new. The first refurbished 240 Z came out on May 3rd, 1996.

1971 Datsun 240 Z Specifications

The 1971 Datsun 240 Z came out with a solidly built 146 cubic inch overhead cam in-line six engine. The Zero to 60 MPH time was rated at eight seconds flat. The engine put out 151 horsepower.

1971 datsun 240 z photos

View of the rear on the 71 Datsun 240 Z

Transmission was a five speed manual.

Brakes were front disc and rear drum.

Suspension was four wheel independent. McPherson struts were up front and Chapman struts were in the rear.

The Datsun 240 Z had a wheelbase of 90.7 inches and an overall length of 161.3 inches. The width was 64.0 inches and the height 50.5 inches. The car's curb weight came in at 2,335 lbs. More technical data can be found at carfolio.com

1971 Datsun 240 Z total production was 33,684 vehicles.

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There are some excellent reference material available on the Z Cars. They include...Datsun Z Cars by the Consumer Guide Editors.....Essential Datsun Z 240 Z to 280 Z by author Colin Shipway.....How to Restore Your Datsun Z Car by author Wick Humble.

240 z interior photo

Dashboard on the 71 240 Z

Datsun 240 Z Collector Cars

The Z Cars have a great following among collectors. The first Z car, the Datsun 240 Z appears to be the most sought after. Much of this is due to the better handling of the first models by virtue of being without the heavy bumpers.

The 240 Z offers a combinations of good mileage, rugged engineering and better than average performance. On top of this the design still looks great and parts required for restoration or repair are relatively easy to locate. When purchasing a 240 Z  you may want to check for rust since these cars are rust prone. Your search for a 240 Z may also include modified models with poor add-ons which most likely will not add to value and may take away from it. Another thing you'll find in your search is that there were no convertible models produced.

Looking at asking prices for totally restored Datsun 240 Z's , as of this writing we're seeing prices in the mid teens and also in the mid $20,000 range. Another example is a pristine condition show ready model with a price tag approaching $40,000. The 240 Z's are the collector's first choice and the price will reflect degree of restoration and how show ready the automobile might be. Many of the finely restored 240 Z's are put on auction.

(Article and photos copyright 2014 AutoMuseumOnline)