ArthurDent Reader
Oct. 19, 2010 12:15 p.m.

Anyone have anything to say good or bad about a 1981 Datsun 210 (Sunny in other markets)? I'm thinking about a cheap one - its got some sort of a A-series engine with a 4spd box - not sure what displacement - there was 1.3, 1.4 and 1.5. HP ratings seem to be hard to come by but I'm thinking 70-80hp? Thinking of driving as a beater for a bit then perhaps a engine transplant in the future. The a-series might a cool engine for a Locost or old MG replica.

Datsun 210

mrwillie Reader
Oct. 19, 2010 4:19 p.m.

How much is cheap?? I had a 1981 b210 wagon( had the 1.2L and 5sp, if I remember correctly) that I bought and registered for less than $400. I bought it as a daily until I got my project running, but wound up falling in love w/ the datsun. It was a simple, light-weight, rwd and would not die. The engine wasn't the biggest in the world, but got great gas mileage and felt decent once wound up.

Rust was the biggest downfall of these. Most seem to be rotted to the ground, very expensive or a combination of the two. I would buy another if I could find one for a decent price

jrw1621 SuperDork
Oct. 19, 2010 4:24 p.m.

That is basic transportation at its finest. If you are not put off by the simplicity and basicness of the whole driving experience then buy it. To me that basicness is actually a turn on, not turn off.

kb58 Reader
Oct. 19, 2010 4:44 p.m.

The sad thing is that it'll give the "high-mileage" cars of today a run for their money.

ArthurDent Reader
Oct. 19, 2010 4:54 p.m.

$200 cheap. Probably needs some tires sourced from the scrapyard.

Oct. 19, 2010 5:12 p.m.

For $200, it'd be in my driveway already (assuming it runs).

Karl La Follette HalfDork
Oct. 19, 2010 5:17 p.m.

looks clean 200 be in my drive like ahh now

Auto ADD Dork
Oct. 19, 2010 5:21 p.m.

I used to have a 77 hatchback. I loved that car. I would still have it if it weren't for all the rust. The engine and tranny never missed a beat though.

Oct. 19, 2010 7:01 p.m.

$200? Don't know how you can go wrong with that.

pete240z SuperDork
Oct. 19, 2010 7:50 p.m.

my dad had a 1979 - the 4-speed shifted like a knife in butter.

rust, a head gasket, no power and.........not much was wrong with it, not much was outstanding - it just ran forever - the vinyl interior blew too.

Jensenman SuperDork
Oct. 19, 2010 8:31 p.m.

$200? Grab it and growl. It's probably got an A15. If you look at the top of the block midway down on the passenger side, you should see A12, A14, A15 etc stamped there. The drivetrain would make perfect Locost fodder. I had an A12 in a 1970 Spitfire, tough little motor.

Just to whet your appetite:

You are welcome.

oldopelguy Dork
Oct. 19, 2010 8:41 p.m.

I have a NOS single sidedraft manifold for an A-series somewhere, if someone is needing one....

Stealthtercel Reader
Oct. 19, 2010 9:08 p.m.

If I had a dollar for every word of the useless verbiage that clutters my brain, I could buy beer & pizza for everybody on this board, but, FWIW, that Other Car Magazine (where Henry N. Manney III used to work) said of the 210 when it was new, "It's a friendly, happy little car that does everything well."

Maybe it was Sunny in California when they were testing it....

integraguy Dork
Oct. 20, 2010 12:58 a.m.

The model that superceded this one had a 1.6 liter engine with a rating of 69 horsepower, so figure a 1.5 as having 63-65?

Yeah, rust killed a lot of the Japanese cars of the 70s and 80s.

Given a choice of the 210 or it's Toyota equivalent...I'd probably pick Toyota first.

ArthurDent Reader
Oct. 20, 2010 4:53 p.m.

So I called the seller - needs a starter apparently. Hmmm ... not the end of the world for sure but I'll have to see if I can track one down. I was hoping to drive it home to avoid tow cost as well.

qdseeker New Reader
Oct. 20, 2010 5:22 p.m.

Below is a pic of my 1980 210 SW circa 1989, lolol. I did the mini-trucking thing to my cars back in the mid to late '80s. From shaving all entry points to "drip" and splatter painting the interior to whatever else.

I loved that car and hate like hail that I ever got rid of it.

Mikey52_1 HalfDork
Oct. 20, 2010 5:35 p.m.
ArthurDent wrote: So I called the seller - needs a starter apparently. Hmmm ... not the end of the world for sure but I'll have to see if I can track one down. I was hoping to drive it home to avoid tow cost as well.

has fuel, no? Has spark? Push start!! Drive home!

Zomby woof Dork
Oct. 20, 2010 5:35 p.m.

My FIL bought one new. When I started dating my wife, I inherited the maintenance responsibilities for it.

It was slow, rusty, ill handling, and threw a rod for no good reason at about 40k. It forever turned my wife off Japanese cars (I only recently found this out).

If it's not rusty, it might be a fun project.

ArthurDent Reader
Oct. 20, 2010 7:59 p.m.

Ok so I bought it for $150. Will try to bump start it to get it home in the next few days. Almost no rust on it. Interior is pretty good too. Factory AM radio still in. Just need to track down a starter.

belteshazzar SuperDork
Oct. 20, 2010 8:54 p.m.

get the one in it rebuilt.

ArthurDent Reader
Oct. 20, 2010 8:58 p.m.

Might just be the starter solenoid - when you turn the key absolutely nothing happens. I might have a line on a used starter for decent price.

Interior is decent - that door panel is in the back seat. Apparently has a new clutch too. Not sure on the exact plans yet except initially start by getting is roadworthy.

1981 Datsun 210

1981 Datsun 210

Jensenman SuperDork
Oct. 20, 2010 9:02 p.m.

Heck, as simple as those starters are should be no trouble to tear it down and fiddle with it until it works. O'Reilly shows a starter for $29.99.

pete240z SuperDork
Oct. 20, 2010 9:09 p.m.

oooowwww the base model with factory vinyl floors. the Japanese cars have come a long way........what an excellent find though. Have fun with it.

Where did you find it?

ArthurDent Reader
Oct. 20, 2010 9:41 p.m.

I'll fiddle but $29.99 for a new one is pretty good!

I was just riding my bike around and spotted it in a back alley. According to the seller a customer put it in for clutch work back in 2004 and never came back for it.

Zomby woof Dork
Oct. 20, 2010 10:22 p.m.

That Datsun would probably be good for transporting your canoe

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