1932 Datsun Type 11 Phaeton

Started on Nov. 30 by JoeyM

Ride Rating


At the moment, this is a project, not a complete car. I'm building a full fendered streetrod on a locost-style frame. It will be a replica of a 1932 Datsun Type 11 Phaeton. The primary donor for this project a 1982 datsun 910 maxima (back then "Maxima" was a trim level, not a model) with an L24(e) engine. Here's a rundown of the parts so far:

  • Engine - maxima
  • transmission - maxima
  • rear end/axle - maxima
  • leaf springs - maxima
  • rear shocks - Toyota 4 runner
  • Radiator - Universal Street Rod Radiator from Speedway Motors
  • Front clip - Dodge Dakota

The Rav4 radiator was chosen because it was very narrow, and far less expensive than buying a radiator out of a street rod catalog. (Of course, I later found out that a local shop could have custom built me one exactly like the catalog radiators at a similar price to the Rav 4 price. Live and learn.) The toyota shocks were chosen in a similar manner....I needed shocks that would be half-compressed when at their resting position, and my design constraints had already determined the upper and lower mount points.

The dodge dakota may seem like an odd donor. I wanted an independent front suspension and a rack-and-pinion setup that were short enough to fit under 1930's-style fenders. The typical choice in that situation is a Mustang II front end, and I might have gone in that direction if I was not trying to do this on a budget. Instead, I grabbed a 1990 dodge dakota front end out of a local salvage yard. Not exactly ideal - I'm not happy about the position/size of the upper control arms - but the price was right.

See the updates below for pictures and video of the continuing build process.

8 comments on this ride

Latest updates

Dec. 19

test fitting a fender

Here I am with one of the fenders that Andrew Nelson kindly donated to my build. I'm holding it up to the car so I can get an idea what it would look like mounted. (The answer, clearly is "AWESOME!") ...

Dec. 19

running car, body panels fitted

Not street legal yet, but she runs. I like this angle because you can get a glimpse of the rising sun firewall, which seemed fitting for a car powered by an L24e

Dec. 19

she runs

Not street legal yet, but she runs

May 13

rear sheet metal mounted

The gas tank is mounted, and the rear quarter panels and curved back piece are now riveted into place. The sheet metal for the floor pan under the back seat is cut and drilled for rivets, but not yet mounted. ...

Feb. 08

windshield frame

Now, with a windshield frame

Nov. 13

another side shot

I put the body panels and exhaust back on and then rolled it outside for a picture. While it was out I swept that part of the garage floor clean, then turned the car around so I could put it ...

Nov. 12

Driver's door

Well, I finally got up the courage to finish the skin on the driver's door. It looks good closed, but right now it is binding a little....I'm going to try to shim it with a couple washers in the lower ...

April 17

fabricating the exhaust

I worked on the exhaust this weekend.

March 18

fabricated the rear end

The panels for the back end are clecoed in place.

Feb. 15

more hood modification

Playing cut-and-paste to make it fit better

Jan. 15

I started building the hood

There's still a LOT of work to do before the hood is complete, but I cut the skins for it. The metal is from a water heater.

Dec. 30

fabricated the rest of the grill

Dad and I broke out the bead roller to make the lower grill insert, and cut the mesh for the inner portion.

Dec. 21

Finally mounted the engine

I finally manned up, fabricated some motor mounts, and put the engine in place. It's something I had been avoiding and/or fretting over for more than a year, so I'm very relieved to have it done.

Oct. 21

welding sheet metal without distortion

All my earlier problems were because I didn't realize how slowly I had to move when tacking thin metal together. Prof. Greg Jackson showed me what I was doing wrong, and now I can successfully weld thin stuff without it ...

Oct. 19

gear selector

I'm using a slushbox in the datsun replica. (Not because I want to....because it was part of the donor.) Here's my attempt to use tsukamaki to make the gear selector interesting.

Sept. 18

cut more metal

Cut metal for the firewall....I still need to roll some beads to stiffen it

Sept. 17

more of the cowl

The side clamped into place...still not welded, though.

Sept. 07

cowl fabrication picture

Working on the passenger's side of the upper cowl

Sept. 07


I got to play with the english wheel and bead roller as I fabricated the passenger's side of the cowl this weekend. Pictures to follow.

Oct. 18

VIDEO: the build so far

Oct. 04

from the side/back

This time, from the rear. I'm not sure about how, or if, I'll modify the tubes under the transmission tunnel. The ones locost guys call 'C' and 'B2'

Oct. 04

square peg, small hole

I tried squeezing the engine into the 1932 datsun frame. It is a very tight fit. I still need to add engine and transmission mounts.

Sept. 30

pulled the engine

I pulled the engine out of my donor yesterday. Next up....figuring how to mount it in the new frame.

June 20

attached the front end

I welded the front end into place today

April 21

trying to find shocks

I had the rear leaf springs shortened and re-rolled, and I've cut the tubing for front mounts and tacked the tubes into place. I'm going to do the same for the back of the leaf springs before I finish weld ...

March 15

rear suspension

I took the rear end off the maxima wagon and put it under the phaeton frame. The leaf springs are waaaay to long and too heavily arched to use in their current form. I'll probably have them cut down and ...

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Feb 18, 2009 7:37 p.m.
David Adams:
Dude, that car is LIGHT!
Mar 15, 2009 1:35 p.m.
hey, it won't be that bad when the sheet metal is on
Nov 2, 2009 8:15 p.m.
I like! Can't wait to se the finished product.
Jan 5, 2012 7:53 p.m.
I'm loving this build. :-)
Jan 7, 2012 9:44 p.m.
Thanks, ECM. That's kind of you.
May 15, 2012 2:01 a.m.
Nice project concept. 3 things I learned making a replica: For a narrow radiator, a cross-flow radiator can be stood up on one end. the temperature sensor hole will then be located where it can be used to bleed air into a header tank. Old wheels can make a car look surprisingly old, the problem is in finding tires to fit them. Painting a fan black makes it disappear. (I rarely use fans).
May 15, 2012 7:24 a.m.
Thanks for the tips, Gman. I've got a radiator that I think will work (Rav4....I didn't start fabrication until after I bought the radiator, since that controlled the grill width) but will definitely try painting the fan to hide it. The wheels/tires idea is also good...I may try that after the challenge
Jun 14, 2017 1:12 p.m.
I went over $20xx budget, changed jobs, and then I ran out both skills and time to develop skills. The car sat in the garage, untouched, for three years. I can't give up on it, though....too much time, energy and emotion. I'm going be driving a finished car car, even though I cannot DIY it.

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