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A Datsun 160J: When the tinworm loses its appetite

Chris Haining January 9, 2017 Cars You Should Know, Nostalgia 7 Comments

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Though it’s nowhere near as hostile as that of Iceland, the British climate is one that incubates tinworms to an extent that they will feverishly tuck into any metalwork that takes their fancy.

My forum moniker alludes to the fact that the pesky blighters evidently find the 1988 Rover 800 a particular delicacy, and will make any metalwork concealed by plastic panelling disappear in short order. And, while the rapid lessening of heavy steelwork will undoubtedly improve your acceleration times, waking up one morning to find that your car is growing smaller is a constant fear of the Rover owner.

But ‘eighties Rovers are low-fat compared to what tinworms liked to eat in the past. They may have found Thatcher-era Fords, Vauxhalls and Leyland products delicious, and really liked to chow down on an occasional non-galvanised Italian, but they enjoyed nothing more than a Japanese meal from the ’70s. All of this makes this immaculate ’79 Datsun 160J an improbable survivor.

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The Datsun 160J, Datsun 510 or Nissan Violet as it was variously called, was a car that was generally utterly forgettable. In design and engineering terms, the 160J (or the smaller engined 140J) didn’t really bring anything new to the table.

It was thoroughly engineered, though, and cars like the 140J rapidly earned a following as easy-to-own, drive ‘n forget consumer durables. They were bought, used up and then, in little over a decade, they were mostly all gone.

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The three-door hatchback coupe version was more interesting, if only because of its less derivative shape, and this partly explains how this example has survived. It takes a certain amount of perverse dedication to run one of these in the 21st century; the owner of this one wasn’t around to ask so we have no idea how much of its original Japanese steel remains.

It would also be interesting if we found that there was something unusual under the bonnet, but looking it up on the gubbmint’s database reveals “capacity 1595cc”. So, it looks like we’re looking at a standard 160J, aside from the rather dashing period slot mags.

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Few of my books have much to say about the 160J, sadly The Carchive is lacking documentation, too. “Cars of the 1970s” by Graham Robson (published 1990) damns the 160J with the faintest of praise: “Second generation of Violet with smart, angular and totally anonymous styling”.

Of course, the styling was anonymous by the standards of the time, but today there’s a kind of charm-free appeal about the transatlantic look of the front grille and quad headlights, and clumsy yet interesting rear lamp treatment. And check those stamped-in fake vents in the rear fenders.

This is clearly a cherished car; with its tasteful race flavouring and amusing bumper sticker on the trunklid. I love the Datsun-branded mudflaps, too. It’s a car that made me smile with such violence that I looked like one of the Candians in an episode of South Park.

Best of all, though – it’s nice to see a small rear-wheel drive car that isn’t another MK2 Escort preserved in the UK.

(All images Copyright Chris Haining / Hooniverse 2017. Is this your car? Give us a shout and tell us all about it. Enjoy this kind of stuff? Try following me at @RoadworkUK)

  • Fuhrman16

    Anything with slotted mags is OK in my book.

  • JayP

    “it’s nice to see a small rear-wheel drive car that isn’t another MK2 Escort preserved in the UK”

    All the Marinas been crushed??

  • outback_ute

    Interesting find, I wonder how it managed to survive? Lots of Datsun styling themes here, it looks very related to the B210 coupe for example. The only one I remember seeing was a wild fibreglass bodied (sports sedan) race car, with later type rectangular lights.

    Also, looking up which chassis code & alternative names it wore (510 in North America, Stanza in Australia) I found that a batch of 120 or so coupes was accidentally sent to Australia instead of South Africa! On the other hand a friend inherited his low-mile grandfathers sedan when it was about 15 years old.

  • Rover 1

    A little more conventional and boxy than the previous, first model 160J.

    My friend Chris had one that was written off thirty years ago when he stopped to allow a herd of cows past, and one stumbled and fell on the bonnet/hood, crushing it. The car was bought by someone else after the payout and they repaired it. I still see it being driven around here today. It is still the same green as this one.
    http://only-carz.com/data_images/gallery/02/datsun-160j-sss/datsun-160j-sss-11.jpg
    http://topworldauto.com/photos/0c/d8/left_arrow-middot-datsun-160j-sss-violet-sport-coupe-710-1600-l16-middot-right_arrow_14948.jpg





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