Curbside Classic: ’73-’77 Datsun 160J (Violet) – “Gotta Get Me A Sport Ute!”

“Look, Miguel, you’ve seen those funny Datsun Sport Utes? That’s one dope ride! I tell you! Doesn’t your cousin have one of ’em Datsuns? That 160… Yeah… I’m pretty good with a blow torch… I think I can make do something with it! How much does he want for it?”

Ok, I wasn’t privy to that conversation, but something like it must have occurred prior to this Datsun’s handmade sport ute transformation. Someone at some point placed a lot of effort and enthusiasm into the undertaking, that’s for sure.

Regrettably, we got to start with questionable decisions; as to why a Datsun 160J (aka, Nissan Violet in Japan, 710 in the US), and why a 70’s one? Not one of Nissan’s finest moments. In local parlance though, Datsuns and Toyotas of this age have quite the following. Their sturdy and easy to work on mechanicals are looked upon with desire by those in need for cheap reliable transport. So on that sense, the 160J works. And being honest, is this handmade version much worse than Nissan’s period-correct Sport Ute?

The taxi-yellow, the hand painted stripes and later NISSAN badges make for more questionable choices. Believe it or not, the car has actually been de-uglified, as it is a recent arrival in the city’s streets. Perusing FB’s Marketplace I discovered a months old ad with the model being sold way out in the boonies, and sporting even more questionable styling details.

At least there was a shot of that reliable OHC engine. Not many details on the ad though, no engine size, not even model year; just a mention of having both a new carburetor and starter. It forces me to speculate, for these came either with a 1400cc or 1600cc. So it could be either a 140J or 160J, the names with which they were sold locally.

Why so short of words on that ad? Just hoping for a Datsun lover to come to the car’s rescue?

Cynicism aside, Datsun Lover seems to have arrived, for a similar vintage 120Y (aka Sunny, B210 in the US) resides in the same street and I doubt is a coincidence. Now, that Sunny is in rather pristine form, even if it’s missing most badges (a common petty crime in this city). No idea if the current owner pretends to restore the Violet to stock condition, though that would be quite the undertaking.

The Sunny is a preferable package to the Violet, though as mentioned, this is not Nissan’s most cherished period. In the Western World, whatever fondness these models muster are more nostalgia than anything. As it is probably obvious, local sentiment is different; these littered our streets back in the 70’s and there’s a good number of them still around.

As mentioned in previous posts, most of Nissan’s styling was very Pentastar, with some very Japanese flourishes on top. Regardless of Nissan’s penchant for US styling, Pontiac’s Wide-Track must have been unknown to their engineers, as those rather-inward wheels only show the chassis’ age all too well. Not quite looking like a body-on-stilts, but some thick rubber would be needed to fill those wheel wells.

This Violet’s true origin is a mystery to me, as it shows bits of US-sourced parts, like the front bumper and grille. There’s no way to tell if this sample is a grey import or just acquired spares from one. Either scenario is possible. The fascia’s bits look rather rickety, and all that chicken wire around the lights and bumper would have my old German mechanic reaching for a handgun. Good thing he isn’t around. Talking about Germans, in the back are VW T2 taillights. Another quirky bit is the fire extinguisher on the A-pillar, which shows the previous owner was a Fast And The Furious faithful. I guess the current one is a fan as well, or is that in the to-do-list?

My excuses for not one interior shot. The street’s security guard was really fidgety about me shooting these Datsun beauties. Better not push my luck. He was certainly irked by my interest and kept on the lookout for my every move. I’m over 50 now, so I doubt he expected nefarious intentions on my part, or did he? Then again, maybe he worried of me poking fun somewhere/somehow of either. Not a chance! We’re handcraft lovers here at CC!

More on the Datsun 160/140J (Violet/710):

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

Road & Track 1975 Vintage Review: Datsun 710

Cars Behind Bars: 1977 Datsun 710 – Nothing Left But Memories