At this time of year, the sun has well and truly set by the time members begin arriving at the Golf Club for our monthly dinner meeting. This is a bit of a shame, especially for those who make the effort to bring their sports or classic vehicles out for a run. This month Doug Armour brought out his new, long-awaited Mustang on its club outing debut, but it was hard enough to identify any vehicle in the darkness, let alone a grey Mustang which merges perfectly into the shadows – perhaps we might see it more clearly on a Mid-Week Run in the near future.
There was no difficulty however, viewing this month’s display car in the dining room. The bright, candy apple blood red, 2-door Datsun 1600 belongs to new member Denis Cope, who as a long-time member of the Gippsland Car Club is well known for his building, modification and competition antics in vehicles of the Datsun brand. Denis has recently retired from competition, but needed something to tinker with in the shed. The 2-door 1600 (or 510 as it’s also known) was never imported to Australia, but had always been on Denis’ wish-list, so when a 1972 imported shell from California was offered for sale in Mildura, Denis jumped at the opportunity.
The build from a bare shell to completion only took 8 months. The majority of parts are shared with the more common 4-door, and conversion to RHD is simply a bolt-on procedure. Denis couldn’t avoid improving the specifications somewhat, so this innocuous little Datto runs a warmed-up 2-litre L-series engine with twin side-draft Webers producing about 125bhp. The gearbox is from a 240Z and the brakes from a 300Z at the front and Skyline at the rear. Wheels are 15×7 to clear the brakes and adjustable struts help to keep the wheels inside the guards.
The retrimmed interior is dominated by a pair of high-back SAAS seats, but is otherwise fairly standard. Denis enjoyed building the car and even painted it in his garage. The multi-layer paint finish is still to be buffed back – a job that will be undertaken once the paint has fully hardened.
Built as a road car, it was never intended to be used on the track, but Denis admits it would be interesting to give it a lap or two of Bryant Park. I do get the impression, however, the Denis’ wife, Yvonne, is not quite as keen.