HomePick of the DayBefore the Z, Datsun made its name with roadsters

Before the Z, Datsun made its name with roadsters


Before it unleashed the 240Z for the 1970 model year, Datsun had established its reputation in the United States for producing legitimate sports cars with a series of solid and spiffy little roadsters.

The first was called Fairlady because of the popularity of the then-new Broadway musical My Fair Lady — remember, this was at a time when the Datsun sedan was called Bluebird. But to become competitive in a more macho American automotive marketplace, the cars quickly were renamed based on the displacement of their spunky 4-cylinder engines.

Thus the 1500 and, in 1966, the 1600 and our Pick of the Day, a 1967 Datsun 1600 advertised for sale on ClassicCars.com by its private owner.


“This 1967 Datsun 1600 roadster is a low-windshield model finished in silver over red. Its numbers-matching 1.6-liter inline-four is paired with a four-speed manual transmission. 

“Work since 2014 included replacement of the starter and wiring harnesses, installation of a stainless-steel exhaust system and ceramic-coated headers, as well as rebuilding the cylinder head. This Datsun is now offered with service records from the past five years, spare parts, an extra soft top, a BRE car cover, and a clean California title in the seller’s name.”

Side note: When Bob Bondurant launched his high-performance driving school and was preparing various Hollywood stars for their roles in movies such as Grand Prix and Winning, he did it with Datsun roadsters as his school cars.


The Pick of the Day is finished in silver, “which was applied to the car before ownership,” the seller notes. “The front end shows signs of bodywork, the grille is bent, and the headlights do not sit entirely flush.”

The seller reports that the frame for the convertible top “was reportedly rebuilt” as well.

The car rides on steel wheels with chrome hubcaps and thin-stripe Uniroyal Tiger Paw AWP II tires, “which were installed new about 200 miles ago.”

The seller also added the fog lamps.

“The interior features red upholstery and matching carpets paired with a black dashboard. Red bucket seats with black headrests have matching red lap belts, and the console between the seats is finished in red as well. 

“Factory equipment includes an AM radio and a heater.”

The seller says the ignition was moved to the left side of the steering column by the previous owner, and that a master cylinder brace has been installed to the inside of the firewall.

The seller says the car has been driven about 1,100 miles since 2014 and the car’s actually mileage is not known.

The seller has had work done on the car’s 1.6-liter R16 engine including having the a cylinder-head rebuilt by Rebello Racing, starter and valve cover replaced, alternator rebuilt and stainless-steel exhaust done by Datsun Restoration Products, ceramic-coated headers installed, SU carburetors cleaned and tuned by Lucky’s Speed Shop, fuel tank reworked and fuel pump rebuilt, engine and body wiring harnesses replaced.

The engine serial number and the stamped chassis number match the plate on the firewall, the seller adds.

The car is located in Los Angeles and is offered for $27,995, which includes not only the car but new sun visors, a BRE car cover, a set of Koni shocks, lowering springs, refurbished factory jack and black California license plates.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


  1. These were very, very good cars in the era. If you look at the "competition", that being MG’s (ha!), Triumph TR4 (better than an MG) , Fiat 124 (I can’t even laugh about that..) et al, the Datsun was the class of the field AND was a real-world everyday driver. That said, I’d be wary of the description of the bodywork..it can be harder to straighten out a second time without expert help. Great basic car though, and too bad nobody makes a nice, simple, manual-top, INEXPENSIVE sports car anymore..

  2. Back in high school, an upper class man gave this sophomore a ride over to Baltimore in his 1600 to see Pele in a soccer game. The drive was made even greater by the six pack of Pabst tall bows that Art brought along. A really fun evening, great car! At 27k+, this 1600 seems pricey for all the known and unknowns.

  3. I’m reassembling my 1970 / 2000 after a strip down & repaint. This winter I’ll redo the interior. If all goes well, this will be all done by spring, in time for the cars 50th birthday. I’ve had roadsters for 30+ years now, superb cars if you know them and can fix them. Like any old car, the other option is to have a big bag of money handy.


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