CC Capsule: 1976 Datsun 710 Wagon – A Trusty (And Funky) One

Every once in a while we have to go back to that dwell of styling wonkiness that was Nissan in the ’70s. It’s a story told more than a few times on CC’s pages, and not a particularly happy one. From the goodwill earned during the ’60s with offerings like the 240Z, the 510, and the Datsun Roadster to… an odd-looking and multiplying 1970s lineup that seemed inspired by Mopar products looked through the melting eyes of a Dali painting. That plus some genes from underwater and otherworldly creatures.

These oddly organic Datsun 710s are about as good as one can use to highlight that puzzling period that was 1970s Nissan. Only the 200SX serves as a better example, which had the look of a Japanese Sci-Fi prop sprinkled with Mopar detailing and cross-bred with the stance of a squashed beetle. Not that I’ve anything against it… (That ire is reserved for the F-10, but you all know that by now.)

One can presumably trace the 710’s styling to its original Japanese market name: Violet. Thanks to that flora reference, one can sort of make sense of the car’s detailing and shapes: Many compounded forms, a few even petal-like, all put through a Mopar-fuselage filter. The results may not be necessarily pretty, or exciting, but are certainly memorable. Few things look like a Datsun from the ’70s.

Floral references may sound slightly odd when talking about car styling, but from previous readings about Japanese car designers, their references are usually ethereal. Rather than pinpoint a source for their inspirations, they tend to be more oblique. The stylist of the 240 Z “wanted the feel of a blade”, the 2nd. gen. Mirage was “inspired by the egg”, and the ’01 Lexus SC was styled with the “feel of the French Riviera”.

CC readers now that these 710s have appeared quite a few times on our pages, with Paul and I doing takes on the model (links below). Still, any surviving 710 is worth 5 minutes of CC fame, and this one is in pretty outstanding condition. It was quite a find when I came across it one hot afternoon in Santa Ana, a large city in Western El Salvador.

And this is a US-spec model, not the 160J/140J version sold over here, and curiously, it is not the first US-sourced 710 I have found in this nation. So, where do old 710s go to when they cease to be useful? Central America, apparently.

As often happens with my finds, this one came for sale not long after my shooting it. Ad images show that the interior seems as well preserved as the rest of the car. Not pristine, but quite good. It comes with a 2L engine paired with a 3-speed automatic. And for a local vehicle, that engine is in remarkable condition. Of course, it has the always-missing-in-El-Salvador air filter case. But otherwise, most of the original bits are still there.

I do wonder where the wagon got its JDM fender-mounted mirrors, which were not common here and obviously were not US-spec. In some shots, one can see the vehicle did get a respray at some point; probably the moment it got its current JDM-mirror looks.

I know that styling-wise, these 1970s Datsuns are an acquired taste. But in terms of their service, they were dependable and trustworthy workhorses. Nothing exciting, mind you; even slightly pedestrian. But users in this region learned to love and trust their Datsuns, and the models still have a strong following. I honestly don’t know of any other place with so many 1970s Datsuns still in daily service.

So, I guess I was quite lucky to find this wagon in front of a laundry service by the name of “La Confianza”. Meaning trust, or trustworthy in Spanish. A word that pretty much summarizes the feeling local owners have about these cars to this day.

Related CC reading:

Curbside Classic: 1974 Datsun 710 Wagon – Third Time’s The Charm; Or Not

Curbside Classic: 1975 Datsun 160J SSS (710/Violet) – Peak Fuji-lage.

Road & Track Vintage Review: 1975 Datsun 710 “Nissan Replaces The Late And Lamented 510”