The Dos and Don'ts of Datsun Ownership
Today, cars like the Subaru BRZ, Scion FR-S and even Mazda Miata are some of the most sought after sports cars on the market. But back before all you rugrats were even a gleam in your father's eye, Nissan (then, Datsun) released some of the first affordable, rear-drive sportscars you could find in the U.S. Originating with models like the 240Z, the 260Z and the 280Z; the line continued until the Datsun brand was transformed into a Nissan nameplate in the U.S. in 1983. But since then, each of these cars in their own has become a bit of a cult classic. The original, the 240, the less-desirable (yet still great) 260, and the perfected 280; each their own presenting a special set of skills and personalities. What then, do you look for when owning one of these classic Japs? Well, like any collectors car, there's many do's and dont's you want to follow in your pursuit.
Do: Get Insurance Like any car these days, it's often highly frowned upon (or completely illegal) to be driving around insurance free. Thankfully, there are many companies out there- both stateside and abroad- that offer some of the best insurance rates around including uninsured driver promises, 24/7 helplines and lifetime repair guarantees. All of which, necessary in the joy that is the classic sportster. Don't: Buy a 260 Ok, honestly, the 260 is a more than admirable piece of machinery. It's handsome, it's relatively affordable and it's still fun as hell, but the original 240 cemented the Datsun nameplate in the U.S. as a serious competitor for a list of reasons, and the 280, with more power, looks and personality perfected the art of the Japanese sportscar. But sadly, the 260 just fell somewhere in-between, not great but not terrible, sacrificing power due to a strangling federal emissions regulation of the early 70's.
Do: Get a Manual It's only natural that coming across such a beautiful specimen that one would aim directly for the classic 4-speed manual transmission paired to the 2.4/2.8 flat-6, over a less-than-exciting 3-speed automatic. It's like lingerie; sure, anyone can wear it, but would you rather have it on Roseanne Barr or some Victoria's Secret model. I thought so. Don't: Make It Look Terrible This may sound like common sense to most of us, but more often than not, many people get it oh so wrong on this highly tunable tuner. Of course, to each their own, but the original Datsun 240- with a long front end, signature hood mounted mirrors and that gorgeous fastback styling; already, is cooler than Jay-Z in an ice cream shop. Just remember, if you're looking for one of your own, it's a classic, and deserves to be treated as such.