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HomePick of the DayPick of the Day: Fairlady, or thoroughly modern Millie?

Pick of the Day: Fairlady, or thoroughly modern Millie?

1969 Datsun 2000 roadster has been relocated, restored and updated

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Back in 1969, Datsun not only introduced its 510 sedan, which would become a favorite with the compact sedan racing and rally contingent, but upgraded its 1600 roadster to the 2000, so called because of its larger overhead-cam 4-cylinder engine, now linked to a 5-speed manual gearbox.

Not quite 58,500 of those 510s and 2000 were sold to customers in the United States, where they are cherished by collectors, and one of those roadsters is the Pick of the Day, being offered for sale on ClassicCars.com by a private seller in South Haven, Michigan. 

The seller reports that the roadster spent most of its life in South Carolina, where it was garaged, and showed only “minimal rust” prior to its relocation to Michigan. 

Pick of the Day: Fairlady, or thoroughly modern Millie?
The chassis during restoration

Perhaps we should make that relocation and restoration, since the car has undergone a restoration and upgrade, and apparently has been driven less than 100 miles since that work was completed in June 2020.

While the body and frame have matching numbers, the seller notes that the 1,982cc U20 engine is date correct. Since the engine wasn’t original, the restoration didn’t go back to factory spec but included some “modern upgrades for performance, reliability and safety.”

For example, a roll bar was installed so the car could be equipped with modern 3-point belts.

“Restoration summary:” the seller notes. “The engine was disassembled, inspected and machined to .040″ over.  The camshaft and crank were polished and the engine reassembled with new pistons, rings, bearings, valves, seals and timing components.  The SU carburetors were replaced with rebuilt units from Z-Therapy. 

“The chassis was stripped and repainted then reassembled with new steering and suspension components.  The rear brakes were replaced with OEM parts and the front was upgraded with Nissan GTR disc brakes.  The shocks and exhaust are completely new.  

“The body was placed on a rotisserie, stripped, all panels aligned and metal finished.  All surfaces were painted with urethane code 664 Irish Red.  The body and chassis were reassembled with all new gaskets and rubber seals.”

Pick of the Day: Fairlady, or thoroughly modern Millie?

Upgrades included electronic ignition, AC/Delco alternator, powder-coated header and new exhaust. 

The interior — upholstery, carpets, door panels, convertible top and boot — were replaced with OEM parts. A Bluetooth digital sound system was installed.

“The result,” the seller adds, “is a car that is stunning in appearance and is comfortable and incredibly fun to drive.”

By the way, the restoration was documented and that binder comes with the car, as does the 3-volume Datsun Roadster shop manual. 

Pick of the Day: Fairlady, or thoroughly modern Millie?

Badging on the car’s rear flank is “Fairlady 2000.” Fairlady, borrowed from the popular Broadway musical, My Fair Lady, was the car’s name in Asia and Australia, but it was marketed primarily as the Datsun 2000 roadster in the US, where one served as Paul Newman’s first race car.

The seller is asking $37,500. To view this vehicle on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

Hagerty
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.

7 COMMENTS

  1. What a nice little car…I always liked Datsun’s…These are rare cars…I never saw one in person…but thank you for sharing this car…It’s a real looker…Sharp Car! Take care!

  2. The camera angles have been carefully chosen. Love the cars, has two D/P race cars with fender flares and plexi race windscreens, but they look clumsy from many angles, especially with the taller windshield, which this has. In the day was often described as a less attractive MGB with far better mechanicals.

    No doubt this is a money loser at that price, beautiful job, but you can get more car for your money unless you just love these. Like a really clean used C7. Actually, for this money you should be able to get a front row 2000 race car with extensive spares. As a race car with the twin Mikuni Solexes they make 200+ HP and weigh 2,000 lbs., so not bad.

  3. Fond memories of our white one – which I started driving around 1974 – and was a big step from out Triumph Heralds and my beloved Opel Rallaye Kadett. (Which were also good functioning daily’s – while the TR 250/6s were – well “needy”).

    The Fairlady emblem has me puzzled??? – I thought that was exclusively on the Datsun 1600 (which was the original better knockoff of the MG – with the 2000 the actual real sporty and performance one and to match the MGC – and never called a Fairlady….).

    The price here – seems a bit high, but for a best of breed type car, fitting….and compare it to a Sunbeam Tiger and you see real value.

    • Great article, and beautiful restoration. The two-liter engine was first available in the 1967.5 “low-windshield” version, which is the by far the most sought after by collectors. The later high windshield has a different dash, but significant performance upgrades like dual-brake lines and five speed transmission. It was not, like so many like to say, a copy of the MG.

      https://www.hemmings.com/stories/article/roadster-rumble-1973-mgb-1967-1-2-datsun-2000-roadster

      Sure, you could get more car for the money from a base C7, but the driving experience and public reaction aren’t even in the same universe.

  4. And a follow up to Larry –
    A nice choice here – but in keeping with the super popular mentioned 510s and Corona’s of the time (and growing interest in Fiat 124) – I hope you keep an eye out for the forgotten Opel(s) (especially Rallaye) Kadett, maybe an Austin (MG) America and the Triumph Herald convertible (allowing ragtop with a rear seat!). They all have story lines of much more than car – but of the times and people and world that were.

  5. Looks great but my experience is all negative. My sister had the 1600. From day one it was always over heating. Never found the answer. We assumed there was a casting problem in the head. Never ran right. My brother had a 2000 which was more reliable but just never could compare with the 100/6 Healey we had and the 3000. Someone is going to buy it but not me! Good luck!

  6. Had a Fairlady 1500 and I can’t really find much to be positive about. Lower end was knocking before 10K miles. Leaked like a colander. Fit (doors sagged and trunk lid did not close squarely) and finish deteriorated almost immediately.

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