Rides from the Readers: 1966 Datsun 1600 roadster
Hagerty readers and Hagerty Drivers Club members share their cherished collector and enthusiast vehicles with us via our contact email, email@example.com. We’re showcasing some of our favorite stories among these submissions. To have your car featured, send complete photography and your story of ownership to the above email address.
Today’s featured ride is a 1966 Datsun 1600 roadster. Though at first glance the 1600 resembles its British contemporaries more than its Japanese kin, this drop-top cutie was the precursor to Datsun’s 240Z. This particular car is a second-gen SPL311, with the L designating its left-hand-drive configuration. Datsun aficionados will note the “Fairlady” script on the side, typically a dead giveaway that this is a Japanese-market example; in the U.S., Datsun marketed the restyled car (which debuted in 1964) as the 1600 “Sports.” Roadsters produced before 1968 can be distinguished from their later iterations by their lower windshields, steel dashes, and toggle switchgear; U.S. regulations forced Datsun to abandon the third feature beginning in ’68.
This particular 1600 is a mildly Frankensteined example, sporting a five-speed manual instead of the stock four-speed, which, as owner Lyn Woodward writes, “finally allows it to drive on the Los Angeles freeways at the prescribed speed limit.” Woodward’s car also is powered by an inline-four plucked from a later, ’69 1600, but “with a car this adorable and turns heads wherever it goes, who cares that it’s not all-original!” If you’re scratching your head about that Fairlady emblem on the car’s side, you’re not alone—Woodward speculates that, though hers is an American-market car, someone added the JDM badge later in its life.
Woodward first spotted a Datsun 1600 at a local car show and couldn’t get it out of her mind. Eight years later, she found this one. She writes: “I bought it from a doctor in Southern California whose wife wasn’t happy about oil on the driveway. Old cars always leave their slick fingerprints …” Judging by the smile on Lyn’s face, the wait was well worth it.