Greg’s (AZhitman) 1967.5 Datsun Fairlady 1600 Roadster
A couple years ago, after chasing a trio of Datsun Roadsters which the owner was unwilling to part with, I had the unique opportunity to finally acquire them at an estate sale when the owner passed away. Being a bit of a sentimentalist about cars and their meaningfulness to their owners, I made a promise to complete the journey he had started.
As with most hobbies, occasionally free time is at a premium and life seems to get in the way, so the trio of Roadsters sat awaiting attention.
After completing Project Vert, and restoration on the 1972 240Z stalled, I thought I might start in on dismantling and refurbishing one of the three. However, I’m impatient. I started thinking it might be nice to have a completed Roadster to tool around in while I restored the others… It’s always motivational to see a “finished product”, and it’s doubly nice to have a “Chinese Blueprint” to refer to while working on the others.
So, when a fairly pristine ‘67.5 Datsun Fairlady Roadster showed up on ebay, I threw in a bid, thinking it’d be insufficient.I actually forgot about it until the auction ended… So, off I go to pick up my latest find in Beverly Hills, CA.
I wrote a thread about the trip here: Buying my 1967.5 Datsun Roadster
The Fairlady Roadster traces its lineage back to the 1959 “S211” and continued through 1970 with the “SPL311” and “SRL311” models.Some interesting info about the 67.5 Fairlady… They were an intermediate model, built for only seven months, during some retooling and “major” changes to bring the Fairlady into compliance with ever-stricter Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.Roughly 4300 were built, and were the last of the “low-windshield” cars, which are regarded as more attractive than the high-windshield cars built in 68-70. Adding to the 67.5’s positive attributes is the wider flare fenders, which began with its release and continued into 1970.
Weighing a little over 2000 lbs, with 96 hp from its 1600-cc engine, the Fairlady was quite a hotrod for its time, outperforming the MG and Sunbeam with ease, with typical Datsun reliability. Interestingly, the first Nissan Silvia coupe shared the SPL311’s platform and many chassis components are interchangeable.
This particular car is a southern-California native, being bought brand new in 1968 in Riverside. From there, it has had 3 prior owners. The second owner did a basic “refreshing” or rolling restoration in the late 1980’s. The tan interior was not an option on these cars, but a modification done somewhere along the line. It remains a “black-plate” car, which makes it a little more valuable… The lacquer paint got a redo and remains in pretty nice shape. There’s a spot or two of rust under the battery tray, which I’ll address soon, but the undercarriage, door sills and trunk floor are virtually pristine.
My 67.5 was fitted with period-correct bias-ply whitewall tires, which are admittedly terrible for anything but sitting still, so I replaced them with a modern set of wide-whitewall radials made specifically for vintage cars.The second owner outfitted the Roadster with electronic ignition, which makes for much quicker starts, smoother acceleration and better mileage.It’s also relatively unobtrusive, but can still be seen (I’ll remedy that as well). Finally, I added a set of 2005 Miata leather seats, which are much more comfortable (and safe) than the old OEM seats. They’ve gone into storage for a later date.
Driving the Roadster, which has been affectionately nicknamed “Marilyn” by the family, is a blast. For someone my size, driving with shoes on is near impossible. First gear requires moving your right leg a little, and the windshield header is roughly at eye level.It’s got great power, and once you get used to the odd driving position, it’s very tossable. Flick it into a corner, and you’re instantly thinking it’s going to roll over on its side… but then, the tail end comes around ever-so-slightly, it settles into the apex of the turn, and feels ready to exit the corner flat, straight and true.Zipping through some curvy backroads is where the Fairlady feels most at home, and it really likes to be driven aggressively.
This one will see winter driving duty for a couple years while I complete the 240Z, the other couple Roadsters, and maybe a full restoration on my NL320.By then, I may feel like doing a more thorough restoration on Marilyn… but for now, I’ll enjoy the ahead-of-its-time performance and head-turning good looks. Datsuns were made to be driven, so maybe we’ll just keep racking up the miles.