Category Archives: Fairlady 1600

Three Investment Cars – Part 3: Datsun 1600 Roadster

A bit back I identified three cars for investment based on nothing but my personal basis.  I chose one car under $5k, one under $10k, and one under $20k.  In this post I’m going to look a little more in depth at my under $10k pick; a 1969 Datsun 1600.

Like my Saab Sonett III pick I also owned a Datsun 1600, so you can see the part about personal bias.  Hopefully unlike my Saab Sonett III The Datsun 1600 turns out to be a good pick for investment, because we need some place to put our money besides mutual funds.   The picture in the header of the post is your Editor-in-Chief and her brother a few years back in my original Datsun 1600.  Its the car that she wanted me to save for her for her first car, but atlas we moved and I bought her a Mercedes SLK320 when the time finally came.

The Datsun 1600 Fairlady is the predecessor to the Datsun Fairlady 2000 and the successor to the Datsun 1500 Fairlady, that was the successor to the Datsun 1200 Fairlady, that was the Successor to the Datsun 1000 Fairlady that was introduced by Datsun into the United States in 1959.

1965 was the year that the Datsun 1600 was introduced and was also known as the SPL-311.  The Fairladys have a very British feel to them, the Hitachi SU (Skinners Union) carbonators were made after Hitachi licensed the design from  Zenith Stromberg  of Britain and the bodies remind you of an MGB.  The 1600 had five main bearings instead of three as its predecessors had.  The 1600 also had front disc breaks and always felt crisp to me.

The 1600 maybe considered the true predecessor to the 240Z since it shared the same underpinnings with the Datsun 2000.  The 240Z was one of the first truly modern  sports cars and would not have been possible without the lessons learned from the Fairlady development at Datsun.

Below is a scan from my book Bob Bondurant on High-Performance Driving, Fifth Edition by Bob Bondurant with John Blakemore, published by Motorbooks International available here at Amazon.

Bob Bondurant - Early Cars of his driving school
Bob Bondurant – Early Cars of his driving school

So, what about value?

Datsun 1600 Value from
Datsun 1600 Value from

From we can see that we’ll have to be a good negotiator to get a sub $10k Datsun 1600 in a condition 3, but we can also see that the value has started to rise.  Considering that I paid about $1500 for mine 20 years ago, maybe I would have been best to keep it and slowly bring it to show quality.   Consider a recent auction sale by Gooding and Company at Amelia Island in 2014 an extremely well presented 1969 Datsun 1600 sold for a whopping $50,600 (

Too bad I didn’t save the 1600 instead of getting my daughter a SLK; but like they say… Hindsight is 20/20.  If you had bought this car two years ago, it would be a nice increase in valuation and if Gooding and Company’s recent sale is an indication, the market thinks highly of them too.

Engine: Inline-four, overhead-valves, two valves per cylinder, cast-iron block and aluminum alloy head, 1,595cc (97.3 cubic inches)
Horsepower: 96 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: 103-lbs.ft. @ 4,000 rpm
Induction system: Twin Hitachi-built SU-style carburetors
Gearbox: Four-speed manual, fully synchronized
0-60 mph: 13.3 seconds
Top speed: 103 mph

Length: 155.7 inches
Width: 58.9 inches
Height: 51.6 inches
Curb weight: 1,984 pounds

1965-1970 1600 Sports
Left-hand drive: 26,425
Right-hand drive: 959

Left-hand-drive production estimates, by year
1965-1967: 10,400
1967.5: 4,300
1968: 5,800
1969: 2,530
1970: 3,400

Links from around the web:

Three Invesment Cars – Part One

What: Three picks for investment cars
Where: USA
Who: Anyone with the money
When:  Now 

We’ve all done it, we’ve all said it.  If I had bought that car when I was looking I would have tripled my money by now.  I’m sure I’ve said it multiple times a week for a long time.  I bought my 1978 Lotus Esprit Series 2 for a song a couple of decades ago; it was low mileage and in pristine condition.  When I was ready to sell it I took it to Barrett-Jackson when they were at West World and after commission I made $9k in profit.  The sale earned a Sports Car Marketplace magazine  comment “well sold” and they said that it set the Esprit price going forward.  Well, the prices have gone up, but I think my buyer was someone wondering why they got such a cheap Ferrari and not any great insight of mine.  But, please don’t repeat that because I use that example every time I want a new ride.

So with this post and the following two I will choose three cars using my “special investment intuition”.  In this post I’ll pick my three car, one $5k or under, one $10k or under, and one $20k or under.  I’ll give you my thoughts on why I like them without additional research.  My next post will be what I have found out from researching these cars as actual investments.  Then my third post on the subject will be where I decide to head to the bank and make a withdrawal for the big buy or where I eat my words and stick with my ’78 Lotus story.

Okay, my first car will be a sound 1973 SAAB Sonett III.  First, there are not a lot of sports cars under my $5k limit, but I think I can pick up a Sonett in that range,


I could be wrong and I’ll find that out in the research.  Swedish cars are an acquired taste, not everyone will go for a front wheel drive fiberglass car, but don’t they look cool.  This pick may be a little biased in that I owned one and taught my wife to drive in it.  They have a little 1.7 liter Ford V4 engine in them and there are over 200 specialty tools to work on them.  The headlights are manual, so they always work, the car always runs, it’s fun to drive, and you can always count on it being fairly unique outside of a SAAB rally.   Five thousand dollars is almost pocket change for a car these days, so how could you go wrong?


Other cars I considered: an early Mazda Miata, a later MG Midget,

For $10k there are a lot more cars to pick from and since I’m not using any outside resources yet I hope I stay within budget.  I’m going to go out on another limb with this pick as well… a presentable 1969 Datsun Fairlady 1600.

Datsun Fairlady 1600
Datsun Fairlady 1600

The Datsun 1600 has dual Hitachi carburetors and a 1595cc engine from what I remember.  The top flops back with a single hand, much like a British MG, but when you turn the key it usually starts, not necessarily like a British MG.  This is a more proper sports car than my SAAB Sonett pick for under $5k with a front engine and rear wheel drive.  They drive nice on the curves and can keep up with traffic on the freeways.  They turn my head every time I see them, at first you think British then you see there are no oil leaks under it.  They are solid, well-engineered cars.  Other cars I considered: a nice Austin Healey Sprite MKIII, a presentable Triumph GT6, Porsche 914 1.7 liter, Fiat 850 Spider.

For under $20k the field really opens up, so let me say up front my pick will be 75% emotion and 25% everything else.  I’ll turn those numbers around in the next post when I do the real research.  My under $20k pick is 1969 BMW 2002 roundie.  This is the car that turned BMW around and gave them the real image of the ultimate driving machine, the 3 series before there was a 3 series.  Don’t be tricked into buying an automatic, a real classic sports car is a manual.  These cars have clean lines, the engines are bullet proof, and great performance for the era of the car and a 2.0 liter engine.  The round tail lights and the all chrome bumpers give it such a classic look.  The later 2002 Tii has much better performance, but not the classic look.  Other cars I considered are: Porsche 914 2.0 liter, Lotus Europa, early MG B, Lancia Fulvia, BMW Z3 M

This post reminds me that I am a bit short on my scaled car collection as well…. no BMW 2002.