Hooniverse Weekend Edition – A Datsun 200 SX Roadster Found on eBay.

Welcome to another Hooniverse Weekend Edition. The Datsun 200 SX of the early 80’s is re-badged Nissan Silvia and was really a Japanese interpretation of a small Monte Carlo of Ford Thunderbird of the 70’s. I remember going to a Datsun dealer and looking at the Notchback Coupe version, finished in a 2-tone blue with a blue velour interior and I thought it was rather splendid. Anyway, it seems there were a few convertible conversions of this car, and one is now for sale on eBay.

The Datsun 200SX roadster was constructed by American Custom Coachworks of Hollywood California. In the late seventies this company was the largest custom coach builder in the USA. While they built a number of stretched limousines and utility vehicles, mostly for oil-rich Arabs, the bulk of their business was in converting steel-topped coupes to convertibles. They worked exclusively for Ford, Cadillac, Lincoln-Mercury, and later on with Nissan dealers. It took about six weeks to make the conversion; this required removal of the top section as well as some restructuring, including reinforcing the windshield and door pillar posts.

According to the eBay listing:

Here is a beautiful one of a kind 1-OWNER Datsun 200SX by Nissan. This is a very cool and unique car that you won’t find another one like it. This car is a 1-Owner Car that is a one of a kind beauty. This is a very cool car. This car gets all the looks because no one really knows what it is. This is a great running car. It has the very cool 4cyl. engine that has 8 spark plugs. It was a unique setup that they designed to get the most power out of the engine. This car runs, drives, and shifts great. Handles great gets good gas mileage and is a blast to drive. I can’t stress enough how cool and unique this car is.

It is actually a very big and splashy listing, so why not go to the listing here. The asking price for this car is $9,999, which I think is close to reasonable.

The question is this: Would you ever consider a Convertible Conversion a collectible, and would you want to own one?

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  1. CptSevere Avatar

    Neat little car, that I'll admit, but it looks kind of bendy in the middle. If I were to consider buying it, first I'd park it with one front tire on a curb and see if the doors still open.

    1. Maymar Avatar

      With so much front and rear overhang weight, you should be fine, right?

    2. tonyola Avatar

      I've seen Fox Mustang convertibles fail the curb test. I'm not sure my '65 Mustang would have passed either.

      1. CJinSD Avatar

        I remember one of the car magazines specifically commenting that the car had to be on level ground for the doors to open and close when the Fox Mustang convertibles first came out. They were considerably more flacid in structure than the Chrysler LeBaron, Buick Riviera, and VW Rabbit of the time.

        1. tonyola Avatar

          The Rabbit had the benefit of a structural hoop behind the doors, and the Riv was so expensive that extra pains could be taken to stiffen it. The old boxy K-car-based LeBarons were pretty floppy structurally, but the 1987 coupe-based droptops were reasonably stiff because they were designed to be convertibles right from the start.

          1. CJinSD Avatar

            Well, the comparison test I'l thinking of had the original boxy Lebaron, and it was still better than the Mustang. I'm pretty sure they actually said that the wildly expensive($25K 1983) Riviera was more flexible than the Lebaron as well, even though it had exceptional interior appointments and hand craftsmanship. They also had a Corniche in the comparison, and maybe the Alfa, Aston V8, and Fiat(or Pininfarina) of the day.

          2. cbustapeck Avatar

            I just acquired a '92 LeBaron convertible, and for what it's worth, the driver door won't open on less than flat ground.

    3. salguod Avatar

      I know my '60 T'bird won't pass that test. Had the top down and, not thinking, put one end on stands. Couldn't get the driver's door open.

  2. RichardKopf Avatar

    What's up with the rear license plate mount? Shouldn't it be between the lights?

    1. BigFatGeek Avatar

      I just saw one of these on the commute home last night. Instead of "200SX", the blue Datsun had "ROADSTER" in the license plate panel.

      1. RichardKopf Avatar

        That's bizarre. I know I have seen a 200SX with the rear plate between the lights. The one on here looks homemade.

    2. Age_of_Aerostar Avatar

      It does look really wrong. Maybe it has something to do with the conversion process? That can't be factory.

    3. Age_of_Aerostar Avatar

      Oddly, while google image searching for something different, I found this…. so maybe this is a purposeful mod?
      <img src="http://static.cargurus.com/images/site/2010/10/25/10/40/1980_ford_mustang_cobra-pic-9034281093207238573.jpeg&quot; width="400">

      1. Maxichamp Avatar

        It looks classier, don't you think?

        1. dukeisduke Avatar

          I remember when they used to sell those things. They usually light up, if I remember correctly.

          1. west-coaster Avatar

            I don't think most of them lit up — they were just red plastic. They may or may not have been reflectorized, and hit their zenith around the early '80s. But yes, that crappy metal bracket that moved the license plate to the bottom of the bumper was horrible. It made the plate look out of place, not to mention susceptible to damage from steep driveways.

      2. tonyola Avatar

        I bought the official Honda accessory reflector panel for my '84 CRX to replace the black plastic trim between the tail lights. The panel looked really good on the blue car – not like an add-on at all.
        <img src="http://carphotos.cardomain.com/ride_images/2/3632/1561/21578280245_large.jpg&quot; width=500>

        1. salguod Avatar

          That's because you didn't have to add a tacky sheet metal license plate bracket with lights to the bumper. Whatever aesthetic benefit this 200SX gets from it's reflective plate (marginal at best) is more than negated by that plate mount.

          1. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

            Yep. The best sort, I think, are filler decor panels that allow the plate to sit on top of them. Compare (although the latter car has the awkward later taillights):
            <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/92/Volvo_740GL_rear_20071211.jpg&quot; width="600/">
            <img src="http://www.dragtimes.com/images/16702-1990-Volvo-740.jpg&quot; width="600/">
            They made them for 2*4s, too; they're gorgeous, although they're even more rare:
            <img src="http://i92.photobucket.com/albums/l33/brostugen/My%20Volvo%20latest/Volvo240Rear.jpg&quot; width="600/">

          2. ɹǝʌoɹ ǝБuɐɹʇs Avatar
            ɹǝʌoɹ ǝБuɐɹʇs

            Saab was doing this for a while, too, on the 900 and 9000. Though I like the Volvo ones you posted, I've never been crazy about the Saab filler panels. I do have to admit, though, that the red 9000 I posted below (found it on Google image search) looks bangin'.
            <img src="http://images.saabsunited.com/Saab900decorpanel.jpg"&gt;
            <img src="http://www.saab9000.com/gallery/purnapab/images/1990%20saab%20SPG%20004.jpg"&gt;
            I've never posted an image here before; here's hoping that it's just straight html style.

          3. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

            Saabs are also famous for this, aye (and your images work fine, as you can see, though to prevent scroll bars appearing in the future, add a 'width=600' – Davis says 500, but he's never yelled at me – after the closing quotation mark and before the terminal angle bracket.
            On a side note: The Volvo 850 sedan came standard with a panel between the taillights; at least one fellow I know has removed his, lending a sort of Second World appearance. Here's a stock example:
            <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a4/1994-1997_Volvo_850_SE_sedan_01.jpg&quot; width=600>
            …and here's his car:
            <img src="http://i379.photobucket.com/albums/oo231/falcone_850/Rear_slant_r_color.jpg&quot; width="600/">
            Reminds me of the old Saab-9000-platform-sharing Fiat Croma, somehow:
            <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/06/Fiat_Croma.JPG/800px-Fiat_Croma.JPG&quot; width="600/">

          4. ɹǝʌoɹ ǝБuɐɹʇs Avatar
            ɹǝʌoɹ ǝБuɐɹʇs

            Yes! I always loved the look of the filler panel on my 850 (pictured). I thought it contrasted beautifully with the dark green paint. I remember the first year or two of the 850 having a different one that did not dip down under the license plate. That's what I was picturing when I read the text-only version of your reply in my email, but your friend's car looks different, and it looks MEAN! That's a really hot lookin' 850.
            <img src="http://i850.photobucket.com/albums/ab70/bkoeth/DSC_0359.jpg&quot; width=500>

          5. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

            Nice T-5! Yeah, if the 850s were RWD (for ease of repair more than any real bias) I'd probably have gotten one of those already. I quite like that olive green.
            The '93 850 ('92/'93 in Europe), and possibly the '94 as well, had a different filler panel, you're right:
            <img src="http://static.cargurus.com/images/site/2008/08/11/14/36/1993_volvo_850_4_dr_glts_sedan-pic-63885.jpeg&quot; width=600>
            (Oddly, the excellent photo I found last night is nowhere to be found today.)
            The '92/'93 cars were strange, anyway – four-lug hubs, different bumpers and headlights, and so forth.
            Here's a few more photos of that guy's 850 – he's kind of a jackass, but he's a fun jackass to have around.

        2. Thrashy Avatar

          To make the comparison complete:
          <img src="http://image.hondatuningmagazine.com/f/12598609+w750+st0/htup_0805_14_z+1985_straman_convertible_crx+right_rear.jpg&quot; width="500">
          (Also, I know who owns that car!)

          1. tonyola Avatar

            Is that one of the Straman conversions? I heard those were really well done.

          2. Thrashy Avatar

            They're very well done, with extra chassis stiffening to keep them sturdy. They also look great with the top down… but when it's up they look like the Geo Metro convertible.

          3. Maxichamp Avatar

            Speaking of the CRX, wasn't there like a twin engined 4wd CRX?

          4. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

            Suddenly, my anaconda actually wants some.

  3. Manic_King Avatar

    Something for E-H: motors with 2 (or more?) spark plugs per cylinder. Not too many right answers exists, I suppose, Alfa had also long history with these. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfa_Romeo_Twin_Spar

    1. dukeisduke Avatar

      Nissan called their twin plug setup NAPS-Z.

    2. Thrashy Avatar

      Do rotaries count?

  4. dukeisduke Avatar

    Shake shake shake, shake shake shake, shake your cowl, shake your cowl…

  5. muthalovin Avatar

    At first glance, I thought that you had the wrong pics for the post.
    I think the price is about right, but it would take a very unique, cool, unique and cool to buy this 1-owner car.

  6. Mechanically Inept Avatar
    Mechanically Inept

    It's rare and unusual, but that doesn't make it cool. I wouldn't even buy it for $1,000, let alone $10,000.

    1. junkman Avatar

      What do you mean it's not cool? The listing says it is, over and over again.

  7. Cynic Avatar

    Yeah. And like the Monte Carlo, this is a horrid-looking vehicle.
    Slightly tangentally, I maintain that the Japanese primarily stepped things up huge – in terms of design and in terms of performance – from the late 80s to the late 90s.
    I wouldn't buy this thing.

  8. Maxichamp Avatar

    Check out the reflection at 2:39 on the video. That's the owner.

  9. tonyola Avatar

    Poorly-fitting top and body rigidity that's probably up there with a bowl of raspberry Jello. These 200SX models were pleasant, unexciting cars for the end-of-malaise era, but even as a droptop, there's no way that they're worth ten grand. To me, the best looking 200SX of this generation was the liftback.
    <img src="http://clunkbucket.com/wp-content/gallery/1982-datsun-200sx/nissan_200sx1.jpg&quot; width=400>

    1. nofrillls Avatar

      I certainly agree with you on the looks factor. That liftback is a great looking car.

    2. west-coaster Avatar

      My brother just finally got rid of one of these. It was a 1980, which our aunt had owned since new and he kind of adopted it when she died about ten years ago.
      It was two-tone blue with a blue velour-like interior, and had dealer-installed turbine-style wheels with blue accents added to the spaces between the vanes. I remember when she bought the car new around the time of her retirement (trading in an early '70s Pinto). The thing was really sharp, and she even had the 5-speed in it so it went sorta-quick if you tried hard.
      Unfortunately, my brother thought if it as a beater and it was in pretty rough shape when he finally had it towed away by one of those charities.

    3. Cynic Avatar

      This looks considerably better than the convertible.

  10. nofrillls Avatar

    It is appealing, especially for such a malaisey automobile. That said, I see an awful lot of wires and vacuum hoses under that hood. As a pre-ODB-anything, the buyer will have to stay on top of it maintenance-wise, and learn to love the Sherlock Holmes aspect of electromechanical/vacuum troubleshooting. Sounds like a worthy adventure to me, personally.

  11. salguod Avatar

    Collectible? OK, I'll give it that. Worth $10? Nope. Would I own this? Nada. Not a real interesting car to begin with, the top removal notches it up, sure, but brings along serious flexibility, I bet. Where are you going to get a replacement top?
    I agree with tonyola – the liftback is a much more interesting car.

  12. dustin_driver Avatar

    I almost bought one of these, with the roof intact, when I was a teenager. I liked the way it looked, but it was very ratty. I bought an '81 Prelude instead, which is probably lucky. I would've spun a RWD car into a ditch or tree within a week of buying it when I was 18.

  13. facelvega Avatar

    I can't even imagine taking a 200sx when a contemporary Datsun like the 280zx exists. Sure it's relatively common, but it's far more car than the sx, has easy parts availability, can be made to go fast and handle well fairly easily, and $10k would get you into the best, fully-updated and sorted cars. If you want distinctive, get one in citrus green:
    <img src="http://japanesenostalgiccar.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Datsun-280ZX-Citrus-Green03.jpg&quot; width="500">

  14. CJinSD Avatar

    I looked at this dealer's listings yesterday. I would recommend a thorough PPI, and a reality check as well. This doesn't seem like a crazy price, but there will be little joy in driving an automatic Datsun. You might as well get a production line convertible of the same era in similar condition for half the price. It will drive at least as well and be easier to maintain.

  15. humblejanitor Avatar

    Not even worth close to that amount.
    To me, it's not the kind of car that I would convert.

  16. ZomBee Racer Avatar

    My lust for this metallic brown flop-top is perplexing, but I do like it. It would make a nice cruiser. The automatic even gives it a bit of charm in this case.
    If I had money to blow on all the odd cars that tickle my fancy, this would be high on the list. I'd probably offer about 8k just for the interesting factor.
    My '67 Datsun uses steel wheels off the base model of this car dressed up with black paint & pin-striping. People have a hard time pinpointing exactly where they came from, although they strike most as being familiar somehow.

  17. JunkedByDarnells Avatar

    Very cool car, and be the only one on your block, let alone Concours d'LeMons, with a roofless 200SX… is it a bad thing that I remember similar Toyota Celicas, Honda Preludes, Ford Mustang IIs, and even Mazda 626s with similar conversions? I seem to recall a Dodge Magnum XE or two that was converted to a ragtop, but after 30+ years of my brain cells being eroded by the fumes of two-stroke premix fuel, Citroen Green Fluid and Gunk Engine-Brite, I could just as well have seen Cordobas or Monte Carlos that I remembered as Magnums.

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