Datsun’s classic 1963-70 Roadster is still keeping up with the Brits

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1970 Datsun 1600 front 3/4 Mecum

If the average car enthusiast were asked to conjure up the image of a small convertible, a Miata might be the first car that comes to mind. In the late ‘60s, that stereotypical sporty roadster would have likely been of British origin. Even then, however, there was a Japanese alternative that offered up clean lines, tight handling, and top-down adventure: the Datsun Roadster. And these days, Datsun prices are right in line with the Brits.

Like its coupe successor, the 240Z, the Datsun Roadster was called the Fairlady in other markets. The 1500 Roadster debuted in the United States in 1962 with an 85-horsepower, 1,488-cc inline four. In 1966 it was superseded by a 96-hp, 1,595-cc version, and in mid-1967, a 135-hp, 1,998-cc model marked the final displacement, lasting until 1970. While harder to find than the 1500 and 1600, the 2000’s potent inline-four made it a successful SCCA racer and even more fun to drive than earlier models.

Beginning in 1968, the 2000 Roadster added a taller windshield, headrests, and other mandated safety equipment, making the 1967 the last of its kind. Consequently, the most desirable is the 1967 2000 with a #2-condition (Excellent) value of $44,100. If that sounds a bit pricey to you, moving from a 2000 to a 1600 will save 29 percent on average and the 1500 will go for an additional 10 percent discount based on median #2 values.

1970 Datsun 1600 engine
1970 Datsun 1600 Mecum
1970 Datsun 1600 wheel detail
1970 Datsun 1600 Mecum

1970 Datsun 1600 rear 3/4
1970 Datsun 1600 Mecum

The highest price for a Datsun roadster at public auction came at the 2018 Northeast Barrett-Jackson auction, where a beautifully restored 1967 1600 went for $55,000.

Aside from the outliers like the aforementioned top sale, the median value for all years of Datsun Roadster is $29,050, putting it right in line with its contemporary British competition. For comparison, the median #2-condition (Excellent) value on a TR4 is $32,000 for the ’65-’68 cars.

Demand for the little roadster has kept prices solid. In the last year, the median #2 value increased 3.25 percent, while the largest increase in value came in five years ago when the median value of a #2 condition roadster increased 22 percent.

The only downside for fans of the Datsun is that its British competition tends to have a much larger aftermarket and therefore those cars make easier candidates for restoration. Consider looking for the best, most complete example possible. That’s true of nearly any car of this vintage, but especially in the Datsun Roadster’s case due to its lack of an easily accessible parts network.

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