Before they gave us the iconic Z car, Datsun (now Nissan) gave us an open-top sports car that, while perhaps not as epochal, was still just as cool. Let’s see if today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe final-year 2000 is a project car priced to make it worth getting your hands dirty.
I recently listened to a podcast that talked about the origins of California’s once vast orange industry. According to the show, it all started in the mid-eighteen-hundreds when a woman named Eliza Tibbits planted two Washington Navel orange trees in the front yard of her Riverside area home.
The fruit from those two trees proved so desirable for their heartiness and flavor that neighbors came around asking for clippings that could be grafted into their own trees. An industry was born and the two trees are still alive to this day having been moved—by Teddy Roosevelt no less—to downtown Riverside.
It’s unlikely you could start such a revolution by buying yesterday’s Riverside adjacent and very orange 1976 Mercedes Benz 450SL, but you could try. At just $7,999, fully 68 percent of you felt it was a deal to make the effort, and gave the car a solid Nice Price win.
Let’s say though, that you’re not interested in a turn-key two seater. Let’s instend postulate that what you really want is a project where you can get your hands dirty. Maybe even get them a little moldy.
This 1970 Datsun 2000 Roadster is just such a car. It hails from the last model year of the company’s two-seat convertible line and is the direct progenitor of the long-beloved Z-car series.
Both Z and earlier 1500/1600/2000 sports carried the Fairlady name when sold in their RHD home market. That’s a lovely name and many owners have adopted that for their LHD editions as well.
The ’70 model is super rare as the line was supplanted by the 240Z in April of that year. The 2000 had been in production since early 1967 and represented a significant updating to the Fairlady convertible over the 1600 model it succeeded. There were actually two 2000 models, the short-cycle ’67 and the significantly changed ’67-’70 cars. The changes on the latter included a taller windscreen and top, new molded plastic dashboard, new door handles, and of course the eponymous 2000 cc engine.
That U20 four features a SOHC aluminum head with a pair of Hitachi side-draught carbs, all atop a cast iron block. Fitted as such it was good for 135 (gross) horsepower. A five-speed stick was offered to make the most of those ponies, a fairly rare inclusion at this shallow end of the sports car pool at the time.
This car looks to be a literal barn find and is being crowded by adjoining crap in all of the ad’s pictures. It’s presently in no condition to leave that barn, or garage, or carport, or whatever it calls home under its own power. The seller claims that the engine does turn, but obviously a ton of work needs to go into getting it to actually start. There seems to be a good base here to do so however, as the bodywork seems straight and, this being a Texas car, it’s rust free.
The engine bay is grungy and beat, but it at least looks complete. Here there is some surface rust on the battery tray and fan shroud, but it’s nothing some POR15 can’t handle. The coolant tank to the side of the radiator also appears to have a split at its cap seam so that may need a little brazing before you fire this bad boy up.
Will it fire? Well, let me tell you a little story. Years and years ago I came across one of these cars at a U-Pull-It wrecking yard. For some reason, it still had its battery bolted in place. When we connected the ignition wires at the column, the little engine sputtered to life and sat there with a loping, happy little idle. In the junkyard!
I have no doubt this engine will easily rock on.
The rest of the car looks eminently serviceable too. The top is said to be original, and it does looks a bit funky. The paint is a re-spray and the car will need new rubber seals all-around. And yes, that does look like a big ‘ol exhaust shart on the front of the hood.
Inside, the dash appears intact and without major issue—a big plus as those do tend to crack and peel. There’s a bit of house carpet on the floor and the center console and under-dash has been replaced with some sort of home-made wood contraption. That should suffice for the moment, but will eventually need to be acknowledged and addressed. Also, I once owned that same Pioneer FM/Cassette player which I mounted in my ’66 Mustang. Geez, I should really buy this car.
If it were closer to home I certainly would have to give it a good bit of hard consideration. The title is claimed to be clear and the tires—on aftermarket turbine alloys—all look able to hold air. What’s not go like about a project with the most pressing need being a good cleaning? Sure, the brakes will need a complete refresh. The thing about that is that everything to do so can be sourced from your local parts store as they are pretty common among early Datsun products.
Once you do that, clean out the fuel system and the carbs, throw a new battery under-hood and give the key a sassy twist, I’ll bet you’d have yourself a running little roadster. To do all that, you’d need to start out by paying the seller’s $3,600 asking, and we’re now going to finish up by asking you whether that’s a good start or not.
What do you think, is this pretty little project roadster a fair deal at that $3,600 price? Or, does this barn find need to go back in that barn?
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