Story of My Datsun
It all started when I was just 14. A teacher at my high school had a maroon Datsun 1600 which had been lowered, had mags etc. I knew nothing about them except that I loved the “old school” look of the car. Talking to the old man about it resulted in just a more than interest in the looks. Dad had some experience with Datsun's as he owned an 180B as his first car and his older brother had owned a 1600 as his first car. I had a deal with Dad to give me about half the purchase price of a good second hand car when it came to get my licence. Christmas 96/97 turned to be the turning point with the old man offering to buy me a Datsun 1600 that we could fix up ourselves, as well as teaching me a lot about cars.
We looked at quiet a few 1600’s all with varying amounts of rust and damage until we found a reasonably straight 68 model with little bits of cancer here and there and a badly dented rear right quarter. It was mine for a princely $750 complete with L20B already in it. We first got it home and stripped it out except for the dash and wiring. The body was sanded back to a thin coat of the previous undercoat and all rust was cut out of it. This was dad’s first ever car rebuild. His job on the rear quarter was amazing, with only a couple of very thin layers of bog needed to get it straight after many hours of panel beating. The job was then finished off with Ford Hot Chili Red in acrylic and a few layers of clear to add a bit of toughness. All new seals throughout replaced the old ones.
Next was the interior. We decided to bring the old red vinyl interior into the nineties with grey/charcol carpet and grey velour for the headlining, pillars, dash and rear parcel shelf. The boot was also retrimmed in the same carpet as the cabin to match the rest of the car. Seats were covered with a nice set of seat covers to match the interior. The old model dash was ditched in favour of the sportier later model round dial dash. To this I added a VDO voltmeter that blended with the rest of the gauges and an Autometer tacho (A pillar of course) and oil pressure gauge on the steering column. A Sony CD player, Kenwood 3-way splits, custom crossovers, Sony 4-channel amp and Sony 12 inch sub finish off the interior.
When it came to performance we got a bit more adventurous. My initial plan was to buy an FJ20det but after a deal fell through it was back to the drawing board. After seeing Dave Falson’s 2 door in a Hot4’s feature mag I decide a hot L20 was the easiest and cheapest for my needs as a first car. Ringing around for parts netted me an ex-rally/hill climb 1600 (pictured) that had seen better days, but for $1500 it would be a good car to strip for parts. I used the majority of engine parts from the top end of the engine as its comp. ratio was too high. I added this to a completely rebuilt L20 block, new pistons etc. Other parts I used include a R160 LSD center, tail shaft, adjustable radius rods and other odds and ends. Suspension was left on the race machine as it had a rose jointed cross member, adjustable lower control arms and the suspension is a bit wild for street driving. The CIG locked 5.143 R180 also now resides in the garage. Everything was stripped out of it and then just the bare shell was dumped as the rust had gotten the better of it. I also benefited from it with fiberglass moulds for the flares, complete front fiberglass bonnet/guards and door panels.
Brakes are also upgraded now with 200B struts, Hilux 4 spots on the front and R31 skyline rear discs and calipers. Wheels are 13 x 6 Superlites with 60 series BF Goodrich tyres. For a first car I’m extremely happy how it goes, stops, turns and feels. It can only get better from now as I’m always finding something I want to change. It also satisfying to own something that we built completely ourselves with machining of engine components and exhaust system being the only things that was done by people other than my family. This was our first car restoration and the end result was a lot better than we expected!!!!!!! There is still a lot I want to do to my beloved 1600 with the next instalment for project Datsun being a reasonably warmed over Z-18et!
THANKS in order of appreciation: