By on August 8, 2014

11 - 1974 Datsun B210 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI’ve seen a few B210s during my junkyard travels since we had this ’75 hatchback and this ’78 coupe in this series back in 2012, but most of the time I don’t find them sufficiently interesting to photograph. A bewilderingly labeled 210 or 310 or B310 or whatever it was that Nissan called their American Sunny for several months in the late 1970s, sure, I’ll shoot that. I overlook these cars, I must admit, because I came of driving age in the early 1980s, when these cars (and early Colts, and Pintos, and Vegas) were the bottom-of-the-barrel misery boxes that young people bought for $150 and loathed driving— let’s call them the Ford Tempos and Chevy Berettas of the Late Malaise Era. This B210 looked so old, sitting in the snow among the Camrys and Volvo 940s at my local Denver yard last winter, that I decided to add it to this series. Enjoy.
18 - 1974 Datsun B210 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWhy call this car the B210 and a different car the 210 in the United States, and then give the same car the 120Y name in Europe? Ask the geniuses who decided to spend incredible sums to ditch the Datsun marque in the early 1980s, then bring it back in the 21st century.
05 - 1974 Datsun B210 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNo matter how much the thought of the Malaise Era may make everyone depressed, it’s hard not to love these goofy-looking “Honey Bee” hubcaps.
02 - 1974 Datsun B210 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIf you’re buying a B210, why bother with options? Blockoff plates galore on the dash.
07 - 1974 Datsun B210 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe A13 made all of 75 horses in 1974. That’s 3.5 less than the ’74 MGB got, so a B210-versus-MGB drag race that year would have required a lot of patience for the spectators.
06 - 1974 Datsun B210 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI wonder what sort of cassette collection you could acquire if you grabbed every one you found at a large Yank-Yer-Partz yard. Most of them would be unlabeled tapes that would turn out to have a muffly one-channel-only recording of Dark Side of the Moon, of course.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

35 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1974 Datsun B210 Hatchback...”


  • avatar
    VR281

    That B210 looks like a ’71-’73 Mustang in the lead photo if you glance at it quickly.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    According to Clarkson these bottom of the barrel Datsuns are what taught British motorists that they could actually purchase a car that was reliable.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      They had a breakdown index back in the day. The Beetle held the title until this car turned out to have about half as many problems as it did. In the US, most of Datsun’s quality reputation came from people’s inability to differentiate them from Toyotas.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    Believe it or not, the B210 was a successful race car. It was raced in SCCA C Sedan, and also in the IMSA RS Challenge. Don Devendorf won the championship in 1977 in a B210.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I recall seeing an awesome Electramotive 200SX at the Omni in Atlanta in 1977. I tried to win the road version by guessing the number of Champion spark plugs that fit in its interior.

  • avatar
    petezeiss

    Long before ubiquitous Toyotas and Hondas, my earliest realization that there was a Japanese car invasion came from seeing hordes of these B210s, mainly yellow and blue, in the student parking lots of the U of Iowa circa 1976.

    I mean…. *Iowa*

  • avatar
    lilpoindexter

    Am I the only one that thinks how cool this would be with some 70’s era gold 4 spoke wheels, big wide fender flares and a SR20DET swap?

    • 0 avatar
      Willyam

      Ok, I’m totally going with you on this one, but it’s not nearly as easy to find them out there as I thought it might be.

      This one’s close in South Africa. If you look at the profile, they also apparently race something similar to what we’d call a “Modified” here in the US, sponsor is “Highveld Toilet Hire”. Only South Africa can be this weird with a straight face.
      http://www.cardomain.com/ridepost/1510619/1978-datsun-b210/

  • avatar
    tomLU86

    The B-210 remains as ugly today as it was then. Was there an uglier car on the road in the late 70s?

    Why yes–the Datsun F-10 takes Silver, and the Datsun 200SX takes GOLD!

    It’s amazing how, in about 6 short years, Datsun went from making good cars (for the money) like the 510 and 1200, not to mention the Z-cars, to mediocre ones hiding under hideously ugly exteriors.

    • 0 avatar
      April

      I don’t know. To me the F-10 really takes the gold in being a combined small car horror. Going by my first girlfriend’s 73′ two-door hatch, besides weird styling one needed to contend with early Front Wheel Drive handling. It was downright dangerous.

      • 0 avatar
        Russycle

        Agreed, the F-10 was all kinds of weird. I don’t remember the 200sx being that bad. Oops, I just googled it and…yeah. Although at a glance it reminds me of the current Scion tC.

    • 0 avatar
      PunksloveTrumpys

      Nissan is respecting this part of their heritage with the Juke, Cube and Quashqi!

  • avatar
    -Nate

    FUGLY to be sure .

    I remember these when new as sturdy little tin cans that took serious beatings and came back for more .

    They were often used as High School Drive’s Ed cars .

    They were detuned to pass emissions testing but that’s an easy work – around and they still passed all the tailpipe testing once woken up .

    The engine and tranny out of this will easily re – power some weird LBC who’s owner gives up on the BMC Series ‘B ‘ engine in it .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    One of the original “secretary sports cars.” Of course, the secretary who owned this one is probably long gone.

  • avatar
    April

    We had one of these beauties go through the shop during my year of Auto Body Repair in High School. It was brown (after all it was the 70’s) 76′ hatchback which had gone through a soft, slow speed roll over (I think it went into a ditch). Anyway one of the things I noticed compared to the domestics the metal was really thin. After pulling dents in the roof we could braze the hole where the dent puller was used. The heat transfer was so great it would pop out any Bondo in the panel.

    Very frustrating.

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    Oh I don’t know…most young people back then were pretty pleased to be able to afford a new car that was so nicely put together. It’s not apparent in the junkyard but the attention to assembly detail was quite striking back then.

    • 0 avatar
      fincar1

      Not just young people. My supervisor, who was in his 40’s at the time, bought new one of these. It was pale metallic green with, I swear to you, a creamy white vinyl top, a brown interior with the standard black dash. What an ugly car! He traded a 72 Catalina sedan that was approximately the same exterior color.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Primitive engineering from Tojo. The allure back then was price, standard equipment & longer warranty. You have to remember radio & defogger were your standard Detroit add-ons. I heard Datsun got Nixoned in NA because of the rust image. Today they’re not running with Renault.

  • avatar
    Garak

    To this day, I’ve never understood calling these cars ugly. Wartburg 353s, Simca 1000s and Fiat Pandas (and come to think of it, most early 1980s designs) were awful, but these? I just can’t see it.

    • 0 avatar
      jim brewer

      Well,some of them had louvers in the back. Brown was a popular color back then. One of the car magazines called those particular models: “The atomic cockroach” I recall that they had very heavy steering for such a small car.

      I would say that Datsun had a better quality reputation than either Toyota or Honda probably until the late 70’s, anyway. It was justified, too. Those early Toyotas weren’t so hot. Hondas weren’t even considered real cars until the Accord came out (and what a sensation it was).

      • 0 avatar
        Monty

        “I would say that Datsun had a better quality reputation than either Toyota or Honda probably until the late 70′s, anyway.”

        That’s how I recall Datsun, too. 410’s, 510’s, 240Z’s earned Datsun a quality reputation long before Toyota and Honda, as I remember.

  • avatar
    matador

    They threw out the Elton John cassette?

    Dude! Come on!

  • avatar
    Monty

    I had a ’74 B-210 in 1976. Coming from my mother’s strippo Maverick and several POS used 50’s and 60’s Detroit iron, it was a revelation. The interior was a big improvement on my brother’s ’71 Corona coupe and my school mate’s 510 sedan. It was well assembled compared to the big 3’s offerings at the time, and it was RELIABLE, as in it started, didn’t stall doing left turns, and was at least twice as fuel efficient as anything I had owned up to that point.

    Ugly, well not really, but it wasn’t attractive either!

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    B210 was the “Vega of Japan Inc.”

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    Two buddies had B-210 hatchbacks of this era , one IIRC a 1975 with a vinyl top and automatic and the other one a 1976 with the same awful upside down 5-speed trans also used on the F10 . Both of them were the s**t brown so popular on Datsuns of this period – also the hideous “honeycomb” wheelcovers . Went on a road trip to New Mexico in the automatic one – myself and 3 other guys with camping gear – I remember it being even slower than the VW Squareback I had back then .The back seats in my memory were really tiny and uncomfortable , even for a 5′ 5″ little guy like me .Another buddy had a 1976 F10 hatch with the pea-green metallic paint , racing stripes and the 5-speed -with its really low roof line possibly even more cramped than the B210 hatchback.Most of the Datsun lineup of this era was ” unique ” if not absolutely hideous .

  • avatar
    StaysCrunchy

    My first car was a Datsun 210, and I always hated it when people mistakenly referred to it as a B210. The 210 was – in my 19-year old eyes anyway – an infinitely better looking car after all!

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    My mom had one with A/T. Driving to Vancouver in the mountains it would bog down on hills to 35mph foot-to-the-floor. Tires were so crappy I got to where i could change one in 3-minutes.

  • avatar
    JaySeis

    My parents had one, loaned it to my sister. On day I changed the oil and a defective filter gasket failed 10 miles down the road and my sister drove it home without oil saying it was making a funny noise. My Dad and I fixed the oil problem with a new filter and it started right up. The parents gave it to her as a college car and she drove it another decade including an across the country trip until was doomed by D.C. salted roads. Tough little engine and excellent mileage, I recall it had a 5 speed. Lousy seats.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Speaking of honeycomb wheel covers, did this car not come in a “Honeybee”
    stripper variant?

    • 0 avatar
      petezeiss

      Good memory. There are strippers and then there is this; look at what was left out listed in this article:

      http://datsun1200.com/modules/mediawiki/index.php?title=B210_Honey_Bee

      Always thought it looked cool with the little dog dishes.

  • avatar
    threeer

    After retiring with 26 years of military service, my father wound up moving to Washington, DC to begin his second career. My mother and I stayed behind in Tennessee, so he needed a car when he got there. Just so happened that my sister’s roommate had a 1977 Datsun B210 for sale for the princely sum of…wait for it…$250! This was 1988 when he bought it. Everybody in his office laughed at him for buying what we eventually lovingly called the “brown bean.” No A/C, faded brown paint (but little rust), vinyl interior. He drove it for a year before they returned to Germany, leaving me with the “Bean” for another year. By then, the clutch was going, so that made getting out into traffic, um, entertaining! I had the clutch replaced and then about six months later donated the car to my cousin who’s nephew was in need of a car. That little lump of a car ran for several more years and simply would NOT be destroyed. Say what you want about it, it had longevity! Long live the Bean!

  • avatar
    Blue-S

    I just saw one of these yesterday, driving down the street in its faded yellow paint, “Honey Bee” decals and honeycomb hubcaps. A definitely-over-50 dude was driving.

  • avatar
    TylerGremlinKing

    I can imagine driving this thing listening to Bennie and the Jets xD
    Good Times…


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributing Writers

  • Jack Baruth, United States
  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Cameron Aubernon, United States
  • J Emerson, United States