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My Datsun collection


The 42-year-old Arana Hills car parts salesman has a yard full of the old Japanese cars and a history of owning them that goes back to his teens.

"I suppose I first got started on Nissans and Datsuns when I was a teenager and didn't really know much about cars," he says. "I saw an MG that I liked but it turned out to be a Datsun Fairlady. Back then you could get them cheap and dad was nice enough to loan me the money, so I bought it." Bent still has the 1966 Datsun Fairlady he bought in 1986 for $2000.

"I restored it with my father and it was ready to go by the time I got my licence," he says. "The odometer only has 99,000 miles (159,000km) on it and I've watched it click over six times, so it's done 600,000 miles which is almost a million kilometres. It's pretty well buggered now. I've taken it off the road and it's just sitting in the back yard with a cover over it, but maybe I'll make it into a historic race car as a sort of midlife crisis thing."

Meanwhile, he has bought several other Fairlady models from 1964 to '67 and still has four of them, including one model with a third seat turned sideways. Most have had the 1600cc engine replaced by a 97kW stroked-out two-litre engine from 1970s Urvans. While the Fairlady is a pretty car, Bent also has a soft spot for the Nissan Cedric, a very plain vehicle and one of the more unfortunately named cars.

"I got into Cedrics when I was looking for parts for the Fairlady at a Clontarf wrecking yard," he says. "I was inside a Cedric when a big storm hit and I was stuck in it for about half an hour. I hadn't really payed a lot of attention to it. I was a teen and I had more interest in sports cars, but I fell in love with it in a wrecking yard of all places."

A few years later he bought an eight-seater 1964 Cedric Wagon which was his daily driver for several years. He bought it for $500 from a 91-year-old man who owned it since new and sold it because he lost his licence. Bent grudgingly sold it a few years ago when he divorced. But he didn't stay cedric-less for long.

"When I met my wife (Ruth) she was driving an old Ford Taurus and we looked at a Cedric to replace it," he says.

Two years ago they managed to score a 1965 Nissan Cedric for free.

"I had started a Planet Cedric website devoted totally to Nissan Cedrics," he says. "I was just cruising the net and found this in Victoria. The owner didn't have time to restore it and was going to sell it. He instantly recognised my name from the website and just wanted to give it a good home so he gave it to me for free. I tried to give him money but he just wasn't interested."

Bent and his wife have "nothing in the way of qualifications" but do most of the vehicle restoration work under their house. They have spent about $2000 on the Cedric restoration plus $2500 for upholstery and now have it insured for $6000.

"You have to be a nut case like me to appreciate any value in them," he says. "But I'm not interested in selling it. I'll be hanging on to it. This is just what I wanted. I needed a big family car because both of us have two children from previous marriages and this is a six seater."

He's hardly sold any of his cars and now boasts four Fairladys, the Cedric, a '62 Bluebird station wagon and a '62 Datsun 320 ute which Bent believes is the oldest Japanese car on the road in Queensland. "It's my main drive-to-work vehicle," he says. "They're all keepers. It's just something I'm passionate about."

Bent has been president of the Datsun Fairlady Club of Queensland for several years and started his www.earlydatsun.com website in 1997.

"There was nothing on the internet at that stage about old Datsuns," he says. "There is no hit counter on it and I'm not sure how many members I have because there's no forum, but I get about three or four emails a day, predominantly not from Australia. You meet some interesting people. A couple of years back a Cedric owner from Canada came over and stayed with us."

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