The E10 Cherry was Nissan's first front wheel drive car ever, while its successor, the F10, popped Datsun's front-drive cherry in the US. Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe 1977 F10 Wagon might not be your first choice for a classic Datsun, but will its price make it the last?
Yesterday's Alfa Romeo 33 Sportwagon was the first such Italian longroof to appear on NPOCP, and based on its 63% Nice Price win, hopefully it won't be the last. That's three Nice Price wins in a row, which means I must be slipping. We'll see today just how much.
Small wagons - especially those with Sport in their names - are full of win for both their compact utility and attitudes so sassy they could guest star on Glee. Two-door examples are even more intriguing due to their upscale positioning as shooting brakes - conjuring images of plucking pheasants from the sky with your over-under and then picking off peasants on the highway as you speed past, demonstrating your vast superiority via your perforated kid leather driving gloves, mirrored aviator sunglasses, and envied two-door conveyance.
Today's candidate fits that image like a kid leather glove.
Certainly you've heard the joke about how when Nissan wanted to choose a name for their American arm, they hired a German branding expert. Unfortunately the ship loaded with SPL212s was already halfway across the Pacific, requiring the decision be made in only two days. When informed that he would need to present his work the day after next, the German expert panicked, exclaiming dat soon?!, and the rest is history.
There may be some liberties taken in the crafting of that bon mot, but there's no fibbin' that the F10 was Datsun's first front-wheel drive car offered in America. Occasionally the first time can be a monumental event, such as when stepping on the moon, going supersonic, or tweeting a poop. Other times being first can be less than magical; the maladroit initial attempt at sex, when the ramp drops on the Higgins Boat, or when hijackers feel the need to set an example.
Many consider the F10, like today's 1977 wagon, to fall within this latter category, despite the fact that during its life it wasn't terribly worse than other entry-level cars in feature or function. Sure it lacked the VW Rabbit's handling, or the little Mazda's bold claim of being a Great Little Car, it still introduced to the Datsun faithful the space saving and secure handling attributes of a puller.
Another aspect of the F10 was its styling - made available in both glassy hatchback and commodious two-door wagon. The Coupe was the more bizarrely styled of the two, sometimes equated in profile to a dog taking a dump. The wagon looks better balanced, almost normal in fact, until you get around to the front. There, both versions shared a wide-eyed countenance that is reminiscent of either Mr. Magoo, or a prison inmate who has ignored the admonition to let dropped bars of soap lie.
This one sports only 41,000 miles for its 34 years of existence, and comes in the best color possible if you tend to get car sick. Behind its Powerpuff Girl eyes rests a paint-chipped, 1,397-cc OHV four. Sucking through a 2BBL Hitachi carburetor, that transverse A14 produced a factory-claimed 70-bhp and 79 lb-ft of torque, enough to pull the wings off of damn-near any fly. Attempting to make a little go a long way is a five speed manual gearbox, and each of the four wheels is independently sprung. According to a contemporary test in Road & Track, the whole ball of wax was able to motivate the 2,050-lb wagon to sixty in a languid 15.5 seconds,
Unless your name is Marty McFly, experiencing the past is most likely going to be done at that kind of pace as that's pretty much the standard numbers thrown up by most ‘70s compacts. In this particular case that will give you more time to acquaint yourself with the F10, necessary as the ad is bereft of detail other than the mileage and the fact that everything is original. What you'll discover is that Datsun in the ‘70s ascribed to the opinion promoted in the movie The Graduate that plastics were the future. Here it's been molded into shapes rarely found in nature, as well as into a steering wheel so thin it could be mistaken for having an eating disorder. The dash is resplendent in black plastic, while the rest of the interior is brightened by being covered in beige vinyl.
There don't appear to be any issues with the body - at least from what can be discerned from the pics - and the car still has its factory - and extremely fugly - wheel covers intact. Interestingly, while 6 years older than yesterday's Alfa, this F10 is probably more reliable today than that car was leaving the assembly line. And, it is almost as chock full of quirky goodness as was that Italian offering. But is it worth twice as much?
Therein lies the rub, as the anonymous scribe posing as Shakespeare once noted. This F10 is probably one of the nicest examples of the model you could find today, but that doesn't necessarily make it worth $5,000, does it? The car, when new, had an MSRP of $3,500, making the seller both a speculator, and, potentially, bat-shit crazypants.
What do you think, is this survivor F10 worth its five grand asking price? Or, is this a Datsun that has you exclaiming Dat Much?!
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