1975 Datsun B210S

Once again, I must rail against the sad fact that just about all the Malaise Era Japanese cars have been crushed by now, victims of their own utilitarian reliability and perceived lack of soul. Now that most of what we see from the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere are scientifically de-soul-ified transportation appliances, we realize too late what we lost when the genuinely quirky Japanese machinery got melted down to make... Avalons. We saw a '76 Civic here not long ago, but it's been two long months since we saw a Datsun down on Alameda's streets.

1975 Datsun B210S


Known as the Sunny in The Sphere and the 120Y in Europe, we North Americans knew this car as the B210.

1975 Datsun B210S


While the gas mileage claims for the B210 may have been on the ludicrous side, the car was cheap and (for its era) quite dependable. Look at it this way: You need to drive across the country with no tools. B210 or Chevette?

1975 Datsun B210S


I'd been seeing this car driving around town for a while, but I could never figure out where it lived. Most of the time that's no big deal, but I really wanted to shoot this car. Finally, there it was, parked all by itself with no other cars blocking the camera angles. Some kids walking by were totally confused to see some guy shooting obsessive photos of some old junker like it was something fast and furious, worthy of a place of honor on their MySpace pages. Dumb kids... someday they'll yearn for a real B210, but by then it will be too late. They'll be lucky to find a freakin' Pulsar by then.

1975 Datsun B210S


For all those who claim these cars have no soul, I submit the B210's grille. Yes, it's obviously plastic, but it's cartoonishly endearing.

1975 Datsun B210S


And Nissan put lots of goofy little decorative touches on the car, such as these indentations by the rear side marker lights.

1975 Datsun B210S


Best of all were the strange-o hubcaps. Come on, Co-Prosperity Sphere Overlords! Shitcan the focus groups, hire the weirdest designers on the island, and bring back the soul!