Thursday, November 6, 2014

Datsun's Cleanly Designed Fairlady

Nissan (in its former Datsun guise) built roadster-type sports cars from the late 1950s to 1970.  The most important and by far the best-selling was the redesigned Fairlady (its name in Japan) series introduced in 1963.  Its Wikipedia entry is here, and a Web site devoted to it is here, while the Nissan corporate site mentions it here.

Back in my graduate school days at Dear Old Penn, I longed to own a sports car.  But my budget couldn't be stretched far enough to justify the purchase of the Datsun sports car, which seemed to be the best fit so far as price and features were concerned.  Therefore, you are warned that I have a soft spot in my heart for Fairladies (odd name, but I'll use it in this post for convenience).

Some sources refer to Fairlady 1600s and 2000s as roadsters, but they weren't exactly that, because they had roll-up side windows.

As for the styling, I haven't found a name for the main designer.  Regardless, the design is clean -- not excessively fussy like some other postwar Japanese efforts.  English sports car designs of the 1950s and designs from other places that were influenced by them usually featured a front fender line that peaked near the front wheel and fell away towards the rear.  There was a distinct rear fender and usually a cockpit form for the passenger area.  The Fairlady has a hint of rear fender, but no strong fall-off for the front fender.  This near-horizontal profile had the effect of eliminating the cockpit design feature.


This introductory view of a 1963-ish vintage car illustrates that the Fairlady has neat styling.  Nothing spectacularly different in terms of features.  No serious flaws.  No excitement, either.

This 1600 from around 1967 has a different set of grille bars and a shorter side chrome strip.  Which is just fine, because there was no need for a serious facelift.

A front view of the 2000 series featuring a larger motor displacement.  Again, slightly different grille detailing.

I include this Wikimedia image because it shows the rear of the car.  This to me is the weakest part of the design.  It's functional, and probably inexpensive.  But the three tail light / reflector units introduce a hint of Japanese styling fussiness.  An integral unit could easily have been substituted and the trunk lid / back panel relationship deserved some cleanup as well.

1 comment:

Tom said...

Hi Donald
Just saw your Audi post. I never paid that much attention to the grill before. I think the new Audi's are pretty good looking but you are right about the new grill, it does have a heavy look which I never notice until you wrote about it. But the older version of the car looks a little bland compared to the newer models IMHO. The lines of the body of the new car seem more graceful
Thanks for the post.