In 1969 my 23 year old Dad bought a new car, it was a Datsun 2000 Roadster. He wasn’t able to pick it up so my Grandmother drove it home after my Grandfather dropped her off at the dealership. The story goes that she got home and more than 20 minutes later my Grandfather got home asking what her rush was. She said she kept it at 40 the whole time.
She was right, she kept it at “40” but 40 in this case is 4000 RPM’s and in 5th gear, that was in the neighborhood of 80 mph. Those crazy little sports cars with their tach in the center threw her off!
This Datsun was his second roadster, his first was a 1600. He loved both of these cars, but had a real soft spot in his heart for the 2000 with its larger engine and 5th gear! If you talk cars with my Dad, he always comes back to the little Datsuns and he has a bunch of stories about his cars. Well, for a long time these stories rattled around in my head and around 2008 I stumbled upon a 2000 roadster in Alaska, in a shipping container… Untouched for around 30 years. I really thought I should buy it, but it was in Alaska and I was not, so the distance really added costs that I couldn’t justify. I figured one day I would get my hands on one though.
In 2014 I was in the midst of preparing my condo to sell and shopping for a house. I headed over to our local cars and coffee and there was a little Datsun 1600 Roadster for sale. Ugh, I don’t need this, and sheesh, this one has had some work done to it so who knows what is under all that extra paint… But it sure was tempting. The British roadster guy ended up with this little car “kinda by accident.” I chose the responsible route and passed on the little car.
In 2015 I was getting the itch again. Man, I really need to just pull the trigger if I am going to do this! Turns out my friend Rhett bought the car from Cars and Coffee and I asked him what he was doing with it. The price started coming down every time I talked to him and at some point, the car was in my shop…
Immediately I had to debate, do I tell my parents? Do I wait till I am done and then show them? Hmm.. I opted to tell my Mom and Sister and not tell my Dad. Lets surprise him.
I dug into the little car and yes, my suspicions were correct, it certainly had a lot of undesirable traits. Rust, more rust, some dents… and a little more rust.
I started working around the car replacing sheet metal and making new parts. This project was going to teach me how to make parts, not how to buy them. I bought an english wheel, a bead roller, a mallet and sandbag and some hammers and dolly’s. There’s a lot to learn.
Front Passenger footwell:
Rear Inner fender:
Front Passenger Fender (in Process):
And there is much more. Over the last year I recieved a couple tools as gifts from my parents that were specifically intended to work on the car… though my Dad didn’t know. My mom even made a special trip out here to work on the car to surprise my Dad too!
I have been getting fairly close to finishing the metal work for the car. Depending on motivation that could be done in the next couple months. But there is still a lot to do. From interior restoration, engine tune up, replacing belts and hoses and more I have been making the list…
Now, if this is all such a big secret, why am I publishing it on my website? Well. Turns out this thing is taking longer than anticipated. I am having a tough time keeping my mouth shut when I call home and my parents are planning trips out here. So I thought to myself, maybe its surprise enough… and maybe I can recruit help. So I called up my Dad last night and told him all about the car. I would say that his reaction was “Speechless.” Then I asked if he wanted to have some part in the restoration? Maybe restore the seats? Maybe the radio and center console? He sounded pretty interested in his speechless state… so Center console is going in the mail for him to restore. I suspect that radio will work better than the day it was new!
Most of the paint and bondo and other fillers are off the car right now, I am looking forward to getting it on the road, but expect more updates as I continue to make progress.
If you want to follow along on the forum that I have been posting it all too take a look here: 311s.org