At the dawn of the 1960s, the Japanese motor industry finally began to find its post-war footing and got serious about expanding to export markets, particularly to the all-important United States of America. The Japanese had a lot to learn about American tastes, and many US buyers still had considerable skepticism toward Japanese and German cars. Taking a page from the Brits from a decade before, Datsun figured the fastest way to the hearts of Americans was with a sports car. After a false start, Datsun introduced the stylish Fairlady, known outside Japan as the Sports 1500. The two-seat roadster debuted at the 1961 Tokyo Motor Show and seemed the perfect fit for the roadster-crazed American market. Like the British MGB, the Sports 1500 was robust, uncomplicated, and full of charm.
As American buyers caught on, Datsun engineers scurried to improve the car and keep it competitive in a hotly-contested market. They hired the noted designer Count Albrecht Goertz to freshen the styling for the 1965 models. He gave the car a subtle facelift, making it lower and sportier, and Datsun added a 1600 cc for improved performance. The most significant evolution came midway through the 1967 model year when the 2000 Sports joined the range. This range-topping Datsun Sports Roadster featured a new 2-liter engine with a single overhead camshaft, dual side draft SU-style Hitachi carburetors, and a 5-speed gearbox. In SCCA Production-class racing, the little Datsun roadsters cleaned up, handily beating the British competition with the help of legends like Pete Brock on the West Coast and Bob Sharp on the East. The 2000’s punchy performance, low weight, and superb handling made for dominant performances in SCCA 2-liter classes and paved the way for future success in Trans Am racing with the 510 and 240Z.
Because Datsun rolled out the 2000 Roadster in the middle of the model cycle, the first 750 cars were so-called 1967 ½ models, with numerous differences that make them among the most desirable of the Sports Roadster series. The appeal comes in their pre-federal emissions spec and combination of the superb OHC engine, 5-speed gearbox, and the preferred lower windshield body styling. This example is a genuine ’67 ½ 2000 Roadster, benefitting from an intensely researched, meticulously detailed body-off restoration overseen by a devoted marque enthusiast. This original US-market car is #421 of the approximately 750 built and is among fewer than 300 known to the Datsun Registry today. The ½ year 2000 can be distinguished by many details, but foremost is the chassis number, and this car bears the correct SRL-311 prefix followed by a sub-1000 serial number. It also features the proper instruments, the correct gray-finish on the interior brightwork, authentic badging, and other details shared with pre-68 models.
After hunting for an elusive 67 ½ 2000 Roadster for several years, this car’s most recent owner hired an experienced marque specialist to find one. Finally, in 2011, after a considerable search, he found this example in Renton, Washington, still in the hands of the original owner! Copies of the original sales receipt show the owner bought the car from Sam Younker Auto Sales on September 21, 1967, for $2,500, and he lovingly maintained the Datsun for the next 40-plus years. After facilitating the sale from the original owner, the car went to California for evaluation and sorting.
After taking delivery in 2012, the most recent owner decided the Datsun deserved a comprehensive restoration back to exacting original standards. He spent years researching and sourcing many rare and unique NOS ‘67 ½ parts while the body was removed from the chassis for a full bare-metal repaint – the owner selecting a brighter shade of silver over the original gray. Photos on file show the bodyshell was remarkably clean and solid, thanks to a salt-free life in the Pacific Northwest. The chassis was stripped and refinished in the correct shade of satin black paint, the original engine and gearbox rebuilt, and the car meticulously detailed during reassembly.
As offered, the Datsun 2000 wears a highly detailed and thoughtful restoration. Authenticity abounds, with a crisp and honest presentation and all the proper ’67 ½ touches in place. Finished in silver over black upholstery, it is a lovely car with straight, well-defined panels and beautifully restored exterior trim. It sits nicely on the road, rolling on proper 14-inch steel wheels shod with dog-dish hubcaps and narrow whitewall radials. According to the most recent custodian, the seats, door cards, parcel area, and kick panels are beautifully preserved originals, having only been carefully cleaned and reinstalled. The carpets and a few other items are new replacements, while the correct 160-mph speedo, 8,000 rpm tach, and ancillary gauges are professionally restored. Further details include period-correct radio, proper gray-finish interior metal trim, NOS switchgear, and a new canvas convertible top. Under the bonnet sits Datsun’s OHC 2-liter 4-cylinder engine, a spirited unit paired with an excellent 5-speed gearbox – a fitment typically the reserve of far more exotic machinery of the day. The block stampings correspond with those on the ID plate, and the engine is authentically detailed with period-correct hardware and finishes.
Enthusiasts of these sporting Datsuns consider the 1967 ½ 2000 as one of the most desirable of the roadster series. As a result, excellent cars rarely appear on the open market, and when they do, few are as carefully researched and meticulously detailed as this marvelous example.
Offers welcome and trades considered