Today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Datsun is a throwback to a simpler, and perhaps more aesthetically adventurous time. Let’s see if its interior alone is worth the price of admission.
Hey, so I’ve been on vacation for a week. I sure hope that you noticed. One takeaway from the trip I took during that time was the discovery that the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport gets really shitty gas mileage. I mean like 23 on the highway kind of shitty.
The consternation over my rental car’s MPG didn’t cause me to forget about our last candidate however, the oddly cheap and weirdly hood ornamented 1999 Bentley Azure S Mulliner convertible from the week before. Yes, it was representative of traditional British upper-crustiness, but geez it’s obvious recent use as a rental or perhaps c-level celebrity conveyance sure didn’t work in its favor. In the end, it fell in a 63% Crack Pipe loss which was almost as tragic as the loss of its Flying B mascot.
You can generally divide old cars into two categories: classics and all the rest. Both of these can be more than just occasional drivers, some could reasonably serve as your daily steed. Hell, we even told you how to do that just that. The thing of it is, when you drive a classic car you’re seen as an aficionado of the marque—someone willing to eschew modern conveniences for the opportunity to steward something of note. When you drive the other sort of old car, people generally just think you’re one of the poors. Or worse, a hipster who has chosen that particular ride as some sort of ironic statement or hope that next year everybody will be doing so.
In what is an untimely and frustrating rebuke to my above assertion, today’s 1979 Datsun 810 falls somewhere in between those extremes. Yes, with its five-speed stick, flamboyant interior (more on that in a minute) and rarity through attrition, it’s certainly interesting. On the other hand however, it’s a Datsun 810.
Now, you all remember the Datsun 510, right? That “poor man’s BMW” was beloved when new and is coveted today for its boxy style, snaky handling afforded by a unique in class IRS, and rev-happy SOHC four banger mill. Datsun it seems didn’t like seeing all those happy owners however, because in the middle of the ‘70s they replaced the 510 with the 610, which in my mind is like replacing Ryan Gosling with Donald Trump. See if you have any chemistry with that, Emma Stone!
Where the 510 was flat and boxy the 610 was bulbous and ostentatious, and while it was raced, you’ll see a lot more 510s on the vintage circuit today than 610s.
The 810 was introduced in ’76 as an evolution of the 610, and kept much of that car’s styling themes intact. Datsun would finally come to their senses making later generations of the 810—and its evolutionary follow up the Maxima—boxy and lithe, but here we have a rep from its more roundy phase.
That’s not all that bad however, as it is representative of the era. The body’s styling, which does invoke comparison to the contemporary Dodge Colt, comes here in fancy two-tone azure paint. It also has four rectangular sealed beams which is a look that I think has held up well. There’s some dings here and there, and some rust, but does ride on some nice aftermarket turbines. Overall the look is pretty much drive it home as-is.
It’s the interior of this car that is outstanding however, and that’s because it’s plaid.
Now, there have been a lot of car makers that have used plaid as an accent to an otherwise staid interior palette. A couple of examples are VW with the inserts on the GTI’s sport seats, and Mercedes on the Recaros in early Geländewagens. Neither of those has gone as fully plaid however, as has this Datsun. You get the rectilinear look on the seats and the door panels making riding in the car feel like you’ve fallen through a time warp and into the bargain bin at Zachery All. Like I said, it’s glorious in a twitchy kind of way. And yes, I’m thinking it’s factory.
Perhaps as appealing, this 810 rocks a 120-bhp 2.4-litre edition of the S30’s SOHC six. It also has a five-speed stick. That apparently needs some work, but the seller is offering a four-speed along with the car and avers in the ad that he would drive the car across the country as it sits, so there’s that. You get two sets of tires and a new battery and starter too. The car itself rocks 94,000 miles and comes with a clean title.
There’s a lot to like in this early 810, and aside from it not falling squarely into the classic car category not much to turn your nose up at either.
The asking price is $2,500, which gets you the car, the extra gearbox, eight tires, and a pair of fuzzy dice for the rearview. Oh, and all that plaid. What do you think, does this Datsun seem worth that asking? Or, is that a price that has you saying for-never plaid?
H/T to Fifty Shades of James Gray for the hookup!
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