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.

See additional Auto Museum Online articles on the links below...

The 1980 MGB Roadster

The 1965 Chevy Impala SS

Beautiful 1941 Cadillac Convertible Coupe

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)



1971 Triumph Spitfire


When you think about a classic English two seat sports car chances are you're recollecting the popular Triumph Spitfire.

1971 Triumph Spitfire

1971 Triumph Spitfire

The car shown in this photo article is an excellently restored 1971 Triumph Spitfire. This Triumph series were produced from 1971 to 1980 and the design was a significant departure from the prior Triumph model. The 1971 Triumph Spitfire was essentially a Triumph Mark IV with a more angular tail plus longer bumpers.

Triumph Motor Company

The Triumph Motor Company is now owned by BMW. Interestingly enough, Triumph really got it's start as a bicycle company which is similar to a few of the very early American auto companies. Businesses that were in the transportation industry such as those selling bicycles or horse drawn carriages were positioned correctly when automotive technology emerged.

The Triumph Spitfire was manufactured to be the answer to the Austin Healey Sprite sports car. These were considered affordable sports cars compared to some of the more expensive Italian models. The Triumph Spitfire was also the car which the later Mazda Miata models most closely resembled.

1973 model of the Triumph Spitfire

1973 model of the Triumph Spitfire

Designing the Triumph Spitfire

The two names involved with the designing of the Triumph Spitfire are Harry Webster and Giovanni Michelotti. Michelotti was a famed sports car designer and stylist who made major contributions to both Triumph and BMW. Webster was a noted British automotive engineer who headed the Triumph design group and who teamed up with Michelotti. The combining of Webster's engineering talents along with Michelotti's styling talents gave Triumph a very interesting and popular design.

Michelloti was actually responsible for all new Triumph models beginning from the late 1950's and onward.

Triumph Spitfire

Triumph Spitfire

Smaller Than the Triumph TR-6

Manufactured at the same time as the 1971 Spitfire was the Triumph TR-6. This was a bit larger of a sports car with standard inline six cylinder engines and manual four speed transmissions. The Triumph Spitfire was produced with an inline four cylinder engine and also came with a manual four speed transmission.

Another comparison between the Spitfire and the TR-6 was the length and wheelbase. The Spitfire's length comes in at 145.45 inches and the wheelbase at 82.68 inches. The 1971 Triumph TR-6 has a length of 155.5 inches and a wheelbase of 88.0 inches.

Links to three additional AutoMuseumOnline photo articles you'll enjoy include the Gullwing Mercedes made famous in a James Bond movie...the rare Auburn BoatTail Speedster and the 1980 MGB Roadster

1971 Spitfire side view

1971 Spitfire side view

Triumph Spitfire for the American Market

Like all imported automobiles, cars sold in the American market have to conform to various safety specifications. For the Triumph Spitfire this meant chrome bumpers up to 1978. The carburetor on the American models were also changed to run on lower octane unleaded gasoline. Add to that a catalytic converter and an exhaust circulating system.

With these many alterations for the American market there was obvious performance differences. One was that the engine produced only 53 HP as compared to 63 HP on the European model.

Sports car enthusiasts will want to visit Toad Hall Sports Car Museum at the Simmons Homestead Inn in Hyannis Port Massachusetts.

Photos of a large collection of Triumph automobiles including some experimental models can be seen at the Canley Classics Triumph Museum which is strictly an online museum. Check out www.canleyclassics.com.

(1971 model Triumph Spitfire photos from author's collection. 1973 Triumph Spitfire photo from the public domain)