The similarity between the Datsun Fairlady and the MGB is quite astonishing. The Datsun actually appeared first, at the 1961 Tokyo Motor Show, followed a year later by the MGB. Hardly a great car in its early 1500cc guise, the Fairlady improved dramatically over the years, a foretaste of the Japanese car industry’s culture of constant improvement.
The later two-liter, twin-carb, five-speed variants of 1967 could reach 125 mph (200 km/h) and even raised eyebrows at American sports car club races. Aimed at the American market, where it was known as the Datsun 1500, the Fairlady sold only 40,000 in nine years. But it showed Datsun how to make the legendary 240Z which became one of the world’s best-selling sports cars.
Interestingly, no attempt was made to make the interior harmonize with the Fairlady’s traditional exterior lines. The cockpit was typical of the period, with acres of black plastic.
Higher and narrower than the MGB, the Fairlady had an unmistakable and deliberate European look. However, of the 7,000 1500cc models sold, half went to the United States.
Low and rakish with classically perfect proportions, the Fairlady has a certain period charm and is one of the best-looking Datsuns produced before 1965. Side views show the car at its best, while the messy rear and cluttered nose do not work as well.
The front fenders were bolted on for easy repair.
The 1595cc 90 bhp unit was the mainstay of the Fairlady line until 1970.
S P E C I F I C A T I O N S
MODEL Datsun Fairlady 1600 (1965–70)
PRODUCTION Approx 40,000
BODY STYLE Two-seater sports convertible.
CONSTRUCTION Steel body mounted on box-section chassis.
ENGINE 1595cc four-cylinder.
POWER OUTPUT 90 bhp at 6000 rpm.
TRANSMISSION Four-speed all-synchro.
SUSPENSION Front: independent; Rear: leaf springs.
BRAKES Front wheel discs, rear drums.
MAXIMUM SPEED 105 mph (169 km/h)
0–60 MPH (0–96 KM/H) 13.3 sec
0–100 MPH (0–161 KM/H) 25 sec
A.F.C. 25 mpg (8.8 km/l)