Datsun (Nissan) Fairlady 1500 from 1962

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The Datsun Sports (called Fairlady in the home market), was a series of roadsters produced by Nissan in the 1960s. The series was a predecessor to the Z-car in the Fairlady line, and offered an inexpensive alternative to the European MG and Triumph sports cars. The line began with the 1959 “S211” and continued through 1970 with the “SP311” and “SR311” line.

The first Datsun Sports model was the 1959 S211. It used a 988 cc C-series straight-4 producing 37 hp (28 kW). Only 20 examples were built.

The SPL212 was introduced in 1960 and built in slightly higher volume with 288 produced through 1961. It had a 1.2 L (1189 cc) E-series straight-4 engine producing 48 hp (36 kW). A 4-speed manual transmission was specified, and an a-arm suspension with torsion bars was used in front. Drum brakes were used all around. This was the first vehicle to bear the “Fairlady” name.

These cars are quite valuable. In 1996 a set of unrestored cars (SPL212) sold for $100,000 USD.

The SPL213, produced in 1961 and 1962, is very similar to the SPL212. The main difference is the dual-carburetor engine which pumped out 60 hp (45 kW), a large increase in such a small and light car. 217 examples were built.

The first Datsun Sports car was the 1963 SP310 “Fairlady 1500” model (right hand drive), and the SPL310 (left hand drive). It featured a 1.5 L (1497 cc) G15 engine with a single SU carburetor. A 4-speed manual transmission was the only shifting option. It was a well-equipped car with a transistor radio, tonneau cover, map lights, and a clock. The first SP310s also had a unique sideways third seat in the rear. The 1964 car was similar, but offered dual SU carbs.

Although many fans of British marques (as well as many publications) will suggest that the Datsun Fairlady was a copy of the MG MGB, the introduction of the Datsun actually predated the MGB’s introduction by several months. Considering the time to tool up for a completely new vehicle, it is not possible that the Datsun copied the MGB, nor is it possible that this occurred in reverse. They have some similar design cues that were in vogue at the time which lead to the erroneous assumptions.

Many changes were made for 1965. Though the 1.5 L SP310 continued in production through January, a new 1.6 L R16-powered SP311 and SPL311 joined it. Marketed as the Fairlady 1600, it featured 14 inch wheels and minor exterior changes. The engine produced 96 hp (72 kW). The SP311 continued in production through April 1970.

The first Nissan Silvia coupe shared the SP311’s platform. The CSP311 Silvia had an R16 engine developing 96 hp and used a modified fairlady chassis. The Silvia was the first car fitted with Nissan’s new R engine. The R engine was a further development of the 1488 cc G engine.

The introduction of the 1967 SR311 and SRL311 saw a major update. Produced from March 1967 through 1970, the SR311 used a 2.0 L (1982 cc) U20 engine and offered a 5-speed manual transmission, unusual for a production car. The first-year cars are most-desirable today as there were just 1,000 to 2,000 produced and are unencumbered with the emissions and safety changes introduced in 1968. The new SOHC engine produced 135 hp (101 kW). An optional Competition package included dual Mikuni/Solex carburetors and a special camshaft for 150 hp (112 kW).

The Datsun 2000 was lauded as a bargain sportscar. The main reason for its production was for racing to build the Datsun image. It was raced by John Morton, Paul Newman and others. Its sticker price was lowest in its class, but it won its class in C Production (Mikuni-Solex carburetors) and D-Production (Hitachi-SU carburetors), in SCCA racing on a consistent basis even after production stopped. For the full story of Nissan’s involvement in early SCCA racing, the teams, drivers and cars, visit the Datsun Roadster SCCA pages.

A well-tuned stock Datsun 2000 was capable of cruising at 120 mph (193 km/h) while making better than 30 mpg (7.8 L/100 km)and red-lined at exactly at 7000 rpm and 140 mph in 4th gear with a 5 speed. It was replaced with the more sedate, stylish, and popular Z series.

For 1968, the entire line was updated with a new body featuring a taller integrated windshield with an integrated rear-view mirror, a padded dashboard with non-toggle switches, and lifting door handles. The engines were also fitted with new emissions controls, and the 1600 continued as a companion model through the end of production.

Scribbled on June 7th 2007 in Daihatsu, Miscellaneous, Pictures
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