CC Outtake: 1980 Datsun 210 Coupe – The Missing One

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They say sleep deprivation helps you write better. Sure! Let’s give it a go; what the heck?

(Note: Apparently a couple of the effects of sleep deprivation are those wonderful human glitches simply known as False Memories and Mania. So what follows may or may not have happened. In any case, I feel an irresistible urge to write it.)

I’d like to say that trying to write a coherent article while running on fumes was my idea. Actually, it has mostly to do with the fact that I’m writing it on New Year’s Day, and my sister decided that it would be a brilliant idea to have a New Year’s Eve bash with all of her friends. Leaving the rest of us to hold the fort in case one of them decided to have some drunken great idea. Apparently she forgot that my mother was contractually obligated to attend New Year’s mass at 0700 on January the First. If she did know, she just didn’t care or assumed that sleep would eventually win her over despite all the noise. It certainly happened to me at around 3:30 in the morning.

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Two hours later I was woken up to a strange but disgustingly familiar smell. Sure enough, we lost guard for a second and one of her guests got lost on his way to the bathroom and vomited on our couch. You know, to add the missing touch to that New Year’s experience. After cleanup and liberal amounts of Lysol I realized that she was getting ready for mass. And looking like someone that had spent an entire night just waiting for someone to try and set fire to her house. So I decided that because I had literally a couple of hours of sleep in me I decided that I should be the one to drive her. A decision I didn’t regret when we were on our way and we saw that, despite the streets being incredibly quiet, there had still been a three-car crash and police had shut down the road we’d normally use to get there.

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We arrived downtown and, because everyone else was probably still asleep nursing a hangover, and we quickly found parking. Except apparently in between the last time I parked and today I had completely forgotten how to park a car within a foot of a curb. I managed it a couple of tries later and as we walked to church I found this: Sitting all nice and shiny by the curb.

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It was a very confusing moment. I could’ve sworn that the Datsun 210 coupe didn’t look like this, in fact, it wasn’t even so much a coupe as it was a two-door sedan. It was, wasn’t it? David Saunders had one for a while. But then I remembered that this comes from a time that wasn’t subject to Just-in-Time production and Kaizen efficiency practices, so you could justify a more stylish coupe to sell alongside the plain Two-door sedan, the four door and the two wagons. And to top it all off this one, with its chrome slot wheels, checkerboard door guards and Yosemite Sam mudguards, is sporting all the modifications that were popular when these were new. I had to take out the potatocam.

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Hopefully all that visual eye candy is backed by something nice under the hood. None of the engines were what you would call “powerful”, but they were adequate to move something with all the heft of a paper clip. So (in my mind) this one is benefiting from the most powerful engine offered on the 210: A 1.5-liter producing 65 horsepower and mated to a five-speed manual. To fit this engine with something with a torque converter wouldn’t be the wisest of choices, but a three-speed automatic was available if you had to.

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A neighbor of mine, the only person I have ever known that felt the need to drive at full throttle downhill, owned one of these. A primer (later primer gray) 4-door sedan that got a full cosmetic restoration before going away and being replaced with a Tercel EZ. Which I always thought it was a step-down. The 210 was produced until 1984 when it was replaced by the B11 Sentra, which was a comprehensive update on a new front-wheel driven platform.

There was another thing too, this well-preserved example made me realize that I haven’t seen a 210 in a long time. They had their run in the ranks of the terrifying Tegucigalpa taxis and been replaced by the current crop of ‘90’s Corollas. So to see one in such good condition was certainly a treat for tired eyes. Tired eyes that for the next hour and a half would be forced to remain awake in mass, lest the TV cams caught me sleeping in church (again) . But hey, at least I got a free breakfast.