SUPER ECONOMICAL FRUMPSTER
I recently walked by this little econobox straddling the Gowanus/Park Slope border that is 4th Avenue. Tiny Japanese cars from the '70s and '80s are something I like a great deal, so here it is!
This is a 1980 or '81 Datsun 210 in the original color choice of Regal Mist Poly. This car was known to the rest of the world as the Nissan Sunny. Basic transportation was the name of the game for 210. We're talking a 1.4 liter 4 cylinder engine mated to a 5-speed manual transmission (rear wheel drive of course). This setup produced a whopping 60 to 85 horsepower! Top speed was somewhere in the vicinity of 80 to 85mph.
The dimensions are tiny and the overall shape looks like what you'd get if you asked a child to draw a car. Somebody's going for it with the mag wheels but I'm not convinced!
To find a Datsun from of this vintage in the Northeastern U.S. these days is downright remarkable. They rusted almost immediately, and not because the paint was deficient, but because they were made of from particularly thin metal. This meant that they were very light cars and very inexpensive when new. I've seen ads from the era bragging that the price was under $3,800 and that it could get up to 50 miles to the gallon. Those are modern hybrid numbers and this thing has a carburetor!
This car hails from the era when Nissan was starting to phase out the name Datsun, so they were given these dual emblems.
The rear windows on these 2-door coupes had a hinge in the front and popped out at the back for ventilation. Every step was taken to ensure the lightest, simplest, cheapest car to build and own.
From this angle there seems to be some color variation from the front to the back, so I'm guessing there are hidden rust repairs looming underneath.
The smoked headlight and turn signal thing is strange to me, but my '83 Corolla had them as well.
When I was 16 or so I was in California for the summer when a friend who lived out there announced that he was able to borrow his mothers '81 210 for the week. 3 of us drove the brown (and I mean BROWN) little Datsun all the way down the coast from the Bay Area to San Diego, camping and sleeping on beaches for the most part. We somehow stretched the trip to 8 or 9 days on our extremely meager funds, battling an overheating problem the entire time. When we got back to town we found out that he'd just taken his mothers car without permission! Never hung out with that guy again. It was great fun while it lasted though; driving around Compton and Beverly Hills, renting ATVs to ride on the dunes of Pismo Beach, and getting to within a few miles of the Mexican border before heading back on one long drive with all of us pooling our last $10 for gas. I don't know who else would feel a rush of nostalgia when seeing this little ride, but I certainly did! Hats off little Datsun-Nissan; keep on truckin'!