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:

Book Review: A-Z of Sports Cars

Title: A-Z of Sports Cars, Since 1945
Publisher: Bay View Book
Year Published: 1991
ISBN: 1 87097 23 0
Author: Mike Lawrence

This is a pretty old book to review, but it is one of my favorites books in my collection and it is still available new on

A-Z of Sports Cars, Bay View Book, 1991
A-Z of Sports Cars, Bay View Book, 1991 – looks like the Triumph TR2 competition car #62 as entered by Edgar Wandsworth and driven by him and John Brown to 15th place overall and 5th in class at Le Mans in 1954

This is not an in depth technical book and doesn’t really give you much detail on driving impression and such.  What it does give you is an overview of the manufacturer from their inception and then a brief one or two paragraph description of that manufacturer’s major models.  The author uses a few adjectives, but not enough to really show basis.

Each model has a nice black and white photograph, the  production numbers and a little about the power plant.  The author usually describes the improvements from the previous models and adds just a bit of the technical details like engine size and BHP.   The book covers the most obscure cars, that based on looks seem sporting, but may in fact be a kit car or someone’s dream that barely became a reality with only one or two copies being produced.

A-Z of Sports Cars, typical pages
A-Z of Sports Cars, typical pages – the color plate of a 1955 Austin Healey 100s that was built to compete at Le Mans.

The book is sprinkled with full color plates of the better known sports cars like Lotus, Porsche, Ferrari, and the like.

While this book won’t satisfy every itch, it reminds me of my childhood as Christmas was approaching and mom gave me the Montgomery Ward’s catalog to make my wish list from.  If you are like me you will “study” every page and imagine yourself driving every one of them.

Happy Reading.

Three Invesment Cars – Part Two:Saab Sonett III

A bit back I identified three cars for investment based on nothing but my personal bias. 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 $5k pick; a 1973 Saab Sonett III.

The Saab Sonett at the head of this post and below is my 1973 Sonett III from 1977.  It was my third car purchased after a 1969 MG Midget and a 1972 Datsun 1200.  I bought the Saab at my first duty assignment out of tech school in the US Air Force. It is the car I took my future wife home in the first time I met her, the car I taught her to drive in, and a car I had many wonderful experiences driving, camping in, and caring for.  From the photos you might not think it was well cared for, but all I could afford at the time was a Kodak 110 instamatic, so the pictures don’t do the car justice.

1973 Saab Sonett III rear view.
1973 Saab Sonett III rear view.

At one time Saab was primarily an aircraft manufacturer and that fact was heavily used in their advertising.  The picture of a Sonett with a Saab jet sitting behind it.  The Sonett II and III were produced between 1966 and 1974 and 10,219 of them were produced and a subset of that total of 8,368 Sonett IIIs were manufactured between 1970 and 1974.  The first Saab Sonett IIs had a 841cc three cylinder, two stroke engine that would run on ordinary fuel.  From 1967 to 1971 they were powered with a 1.5 liter Ford V4 engine and they have always been front wheel drive.  The V4 engine produced a whopping 65bhp.  In 1971 the displacement increased to 1.7 liters and the engine produced 75bhp and could now top 100mph, or by my speedometer at the time 105mph.   In 1970, Sergio Coggiola design of the Sonett III extended the fiberglass body of the Sonett II by five inches and used the original floorpan.  The Saab Sonett III was never succeeded by another sports car from Saab although they have had many fine sports sedans and coupes, not a car that completely embodies the qualities of a sports car like the Sonett.

First I wanted to make sure that you can get a Sonett for under $5000, so I went to Hagerty to see what the insurance marketplace values my pick at.  Here is what I found:

Saab Sonett III Value
Saab Sonett III Value from

So, as we can see…. you can get a condition 3 Sonett III for about $5k, but not a great one and you are going to have to negotiate a good deal.

Looking at the same chart it looks like the Sonett III values have actually stayed flat or even gone down in recent years.

Has the market stayed flat because so many Sonett III were made?  Well, in 1967 Porsche made 4141 901 models of various variants, many more than Saab made of Sonett III in any one year and the Porsche 901 models have skyrocketed in recent years.  And of course there are so many stories of cars collected at moon high prices because of their rarity.   It seems that the Saab Sonett III was never a highly desirable car, it was a nitch car, or curiosities at best in terms of value.

I’ll probably still buy another Sonett II or III eventually, mostly out of the feelings I have about them from my great experiences, but based on what I found out, I won’t be recommending them to my friends instead of a good mutual fund.  DON’T BUY!!!  (for a great investment anyways).

Saab Sonett III Technical Specifications

Sports Coupe, two doors, two seats, 800.6kg/1,765 lbs.

Vee configuration Four-cylinder longitudinally mounted, 90×58.86mm, 1498cc, compr: 9.0:1, 68hp @ 4,700 rpm, 11.7 mkp@ 2,500 rpm

Engine Structure:
Overhead valves, four cylinder, pushrod, central camshaft, gear camshaft drive, aluminum cylinder head, cast iron block, 3-bearing crankshaft, FoMoCo, water cooled. Transmission Front-wheel drive, four-speed gearbox, spiral bevel final drive, 4.76:1

Semi-monocoque welded steel and fiberglass body, independent unequal length arms, coil springs, rear beam axle, coil springs, telescopic shock absorbers, Front disc brakes, rear brake drums, twin circuit braking, rack and pinion steering, 60 liter fuel tank, 155SR15 tires, 4.5″ rim.

Wheelbase 212.3cm/83.6″
Front Track 123.4cm/48.6″
Rear Track 123.5cm/48.6″
Ground Clearance 15.2cm/6″
Turning Circle 9.39m/30.8′
Length 390cm/154″
Width 150cm/59″
Height 119cm/47″

Max Speed 103 mph/165 kph
18.1 mph/29 kph @ 1,000 rpm
Acceleration 0-60 mph 14.4 secs
Standing Mile 18.2 secs
Average Fuel Consumption 26.4mpg (Brooklands Books)






Dallas Cars and Coffee

What: Dallas Cars and Coffee
Where: Classic BMW, Plano, TX
Who: Open and Free of charge
When:  First Saturday of each month
Link 2:

Cars and Coffee are shows that take place world wide.  I’ve been to the Dallas one twice and it has been a treat both times.    Last weekend I got a little late start and didn’t arrive until around 9:30 AM and a lot of the cars had already started to leave.  There is no charge to show your car or be a spectator, so look them up and get out as often as you can.  The Dallas show is actually held at Classic BMW in Plano.  I don’t know how the other Cars and Coffee gatherings are around the world, but in Plano there are all kinds of cars from 60’s Volkswagens to a Lamborghini Aventador and everything in between.

Because I was late and the cars were already starting to leave I got to listen to some of the best engine sounds as the V10’s and V12’s were pulling out of the lot and putting on their own show for us spectators.

I ran into Val Herrera with his Alfa GTV6 Callaway and got to talk to him for a bit about the history and acquisition of the car.  Val does great work and takes a lot of pride in his cars.

Val Herrera's Alfa Romeo Callaway GTV6 with Reeves Callaway Signed Hood
Val Herrera’s Alfa Romeo Callaway GTV6 with Reeves Callaway Signed Hood
Val Herrera's Alfa Romeo  Callaway GTV6
Val Herrera’s Alfa Romeo Callaway GTV6

There were several exotic cars; besides the Aventador there was a pair of yellow Lamborghini Gallardos, a Ferrari F430, a Jaguar F Type, an Audi R8 V10, and a McLaren 650S Spider plus a handful of more common exotics like a Lotus Elise and a Ferrari 328.

lamborghini gallardo and superleggera
Two Lamborghinis: a Gallardo Superleggera and a Gallardo
McLaren 650S Spider
McLaren 650S Spider
Maserati GranTurismo MC Convertible
Maserati GranTurismo MC Convertible
Lotus Elise
Chrome Orange Lotus Elise
VW Bug
Nicely restored VW Bug

Enjoy the pics and I’ll post more on Instagram or the Facebook page.

Another Sports Car Gathering in Peyriac De Mer

What: Vacation
Where: Peyriac de mer, France
Who: Classic Sports Cars
When:  June 22, 2014

Who would have guessed that Peyriac De Mer, France would be such a great place for sports cars?  This seemingly sleepy little town in the south of France has one pizza shop, a tabaco store, a bakery, a grocery store slightly smaller than a 7-11, and one restaurant/bar.  I stayed there 5 days and on two of those 5 days they had sports car shows; the AC Owner’s club of France and this group of beautiful cars that motored in while we were out at the Carcassonne castle doing the tourist thing.  After such a great show for us with the AC club, I jokingly told my wife that I hope they have another group of cars for us to enjoy when we got back from the castle; and wow did they.

If you have been to France you know that not everyone knows English and some of those that do won’t let on, so here again I had a language barrier and had little interaction with the owners, but I hope you enjoy the pictures anyways.

Alfa GTV
Alfa GTV
Alfa Romeo Giulietta
Alfa Romeo Giulietta convertible
An interesting Burton based on a Citrion
BMW 2002
A BMW 2002 Roundie
Citroen C2V
Citroen 2CV
Lancia Fulvia
Lancia Fulvia
MGB, TR6 and a Lotus Clone
MGB, TR6 and a Lotus Clone
Renault R 4CV
1950’s Renault R 4CV
Simca Aronde P60
A nicely presented Triumph TR6

4th of July

There is something great about the American ideal.  We will call the man that washes our car for us sir.  Sir, a word not reserved for royalty in this country and not someone knighted; there is no difference between the President of the United States and the man working in a saw mill, the law applies to them both, they both are granted the same opportunities.

The American ideal makes me want to like American cars, it makes me want to have pride in our automobile industry and point to it and say, there, beat that.  I think our cars were made with the open road in mind; endless miles of pavement and few turns.  Getting from the east coast to the west coast with the family.  So in a way, they are great.  On this anniversary of our independence from Great Britain I won’t bash them, but celebrate what they were made for regardless of my preferences.

So, happy 4th of July!  Enjoy the cars in my neighborhood 4th parade!

Fireworks down town over the river
Packard Limo
Packard Limo lining up for the parade
Chevy Belair
Chevy Belair in line at our round a bout
Chevy Belair2
Another Chevy Belair
Chevy Impala
A nice looking red Chevy Impala
Miata and MGB
PRHT Mazda Miata and a rubber bumper MGB
4th at the Circle
Part of the 4th of July neighborhood crowd

AC Owners Club of France in Peyriac de mer

Where: Peyriac de mer, France
Who: AC Owners Club of France
When:  June 19, 2014

As I already posted I missed LeMans due to mechanical problems with my flight getting to Paris, so my new intent was to at least get some pictures of cars that we normally don’t see in the US or maybe just some nice sports cars in the Paris environment.  I was slightly disappointed with Paris, car wise anyways.  We stayed in the Opera district and walked to the River Seine and all the attractions every day, but saw very few cars to take a picture of.  I saw one Lotus Elise a couple of times, but I never had my camera to the ready.  We saw lots of cars we don’t see in the US, but mostly just economy cars that have no sporting value.   There were the new scooters with two front wheels that were pretty cool and seemed to be the preferred scooter of the upper level business men in Armani suits, but the only car worth a picture was the original Mini’s and there were a number of them.

Mini and SMART in Paris
Mini and SMART in Paris

Eventually we did see a Ferrari and a Lamborghini rental cars parked as we were leaving the Tuileries Gardens that were for rent, 89€ for a 20 minutes’ drive.  They had some crazy advertising on the side of them so I was almost embarrassed to take the picture, and didn’t, but did find them on someone else’s site here.   Other than to say you drove them, I’m not sure it would be that great of a drive in that particular area.

The second half of the trip was much better car wise.  We headed to the south of France to stay in a little town called Peyriac de mer.  From there we traveled to the Mediterranean Sea, a small city called Narbonne, and to Carcassonne where one of the largest castles in Europe is located.

As we are entering town we are met with the AC Owners Club of France just finishing their lunch with all of their cars parked in a circle immediately outside of the door to our residence.  What a nice surprise.  We dropped our bags and starting taking pictures.  Besides ACs there was one Jaguar and one “real” Shelby Cobra.  There was a language barrier, so no stories, but lots of great pictures and videos.

AC History:

AC Cars are Britain’s oldest car manufactures having been produced since 1901.  In 1953 the AC Ace was launched and found a following among sports motorists. It was very successful in British Club racing and the Shelby AC Cobra eventually evolved from the AC Ace.  In 1961 AC was approached by Carroll Shelby to use a small block Ford V8 engine in the Ace chassis, producing the AC Cobra. Shelby needed a car that could compete with the Chevrolet Corvette in US sports car racing. The resulting Cobra was a very powerful roadster.

1953-1963 AC Ace
Manufacturer:  AC Cars
Production: 1953–1963
Body and chassis: 2-door roadster

2.0 L I6 (AC)
2.0 L I6 (Bristol)
2.6 L I6 (Ford)
4-speed manual (With overdrive available)

Wheelbase: 90 in (2,286 mm)
Length: 152 in (3,861 mm)
Width: 59.5 in (1,511 mm)
Height: 49 in (1,245 mm)
Curb weight: 1920 lb (871 kg)

Links around the web:


LHD AC Ace Dash
France AC Club Badge
One of many beautiful ACs
AC Aceca Bristol Coupé
AC Ace cabriolet
Two more ACs, all gorgeous