All of us here at The Garage hope you treated your mom’s right on Mother’s Day, and we offer a belated happy Mother’s Day to the mom’s that read our blog. En route to lovely Knapp’s Landing restaurant in Stratford, Connecticut, my wife spotted a cool car on our way to lunch. Not wanting to be late, I vowed to check it out later. A tribute to my lovely wife for her keen eye.
After lunch, I drove to where she spotted the car, and what I found was cooler than I ever could have imagined. Not only was it a cool car, but it was resting on the flatbed of an equally, if not more cool flatbed truck, a vintage Dodge, rusted and faded, but what especially struck me was the barely legible painting on the doors for the shop it did duty for decades ago.
The little sports car, slowly atrophying to the elements is a Datsun 2000, also known as the Fairlady in its native Japan. The 2000 was the car that preceded the groundbreaking 240Z. Built from 1967 to 1970, the 2000 sported a 2.0L four, good for 133hp with a whopping 7,000 rpm redline. With a weight of just 2,000lbs, the 2000 could comfortably cruise all day at 120mph in fifth gear, an overdrive gear, but in fourth the 2000 could hit 140mph. Competing against MG, a five speed manual was exotic stuff for this class of car. Datsun wanted the car to appeal to SCCA racers, and offered an optional Competition Package with Solex carbs and special camshaft, bumping power to 150hp.
By all measures, the Datsun 2000 was years ahead of the MGB and Triumph TR-4 in terms of technology and performance, but at the time, the American sports car buyer just wasn’t ready to embrace a Japanese roadster. The 2000 was a limited production car, and lacked the British charm MG’s and Triumph’s offered. With World War II in the not so distant past, I have no doubt that for as good as the Datsun 2000 was, it was simply crossed off buyer’s lists for it country of origin.
But for anyone who respects and covets the Z-car, look back and see the Datsun 2000 as the final evolution of their sports car before launching the sports car revolution the Z created. For now, reflect on the beauty and/or sadness of the car that came before.