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My Datsun 1600

1972 Datsun 1600.

And it is not the baby boomer generation who are driving the growth. It is a much younger demographic, those in their 20s and 30s, who are into Mazdas, Datsuns and Toyotas of the sixties and seventies.

Brett Montague has owned his 1972 Datsun 1600 for four years. He and his father, Jim, found it on a Victorian property after a long nationwide search for a one. "It was being used as a paddock basher car" says Brett.

What appealed to Brett was that despite the dents and scrapes the car was mostly rust free. He is a toolmaker by trade so the restoration was no hassle for him. Whilst Brett wanted to keep the car as stock as possible, the desire to use car daily in 21st century traffic changed his minds about the direction of the rebuild.

Jim takes up the story: "We wanted to keep it as stock as possible, however it soon became obvious that to make it easy to drive in today's traffic a few modifications were needed to ensure reliability and tractability." Brett says that the original 1.6 litre engine has been replaced by the 2 litre version out of a Datsun 200B. A couple of Weber carburettors have been strapped to its side to improve the power output.

"The disc brakes are slightly larger than original and the front seats are ex-Skyline. The gearbox is also an ex-Skyline 5 speed. It is a little beefed-up all round, except for the radio. That's still the original AM unit" says Brett.

The attention to detail on the Datsun is compelling. The car looks brand new and whenever it is taken to 'show and shines' it draws admiring comments.

The 1600 was the car that really put the Japanese maker onto the world stage. First released in 1968, it was marketed as the Bluebird in Japan, the 510 in the USA and the 1600 elsewhere.

What set it apart was its independent rear suspension and standard front disc brakes in a world where solid rear axles with leaf springs and drum brakes were still foisted onto consumers. Datsun made no secret that they used BMW and the benchmark and inspiration. The good bit was they sold the 1600 at half the BMW price.

The 1600's sophisticated suspension made them agile race and rally cars. They won their class at Bathurst in 1968, 1969, 1970 and 1971 and the rally successes earned them a 'must have' status in that arena.

David Burrell is the editor of