1958 Toyopet Crown
What with getting the interior back in the Lancia Beta and other stuff, it’s been a busy couple of weeks. But, inspired by the August issue of Grassroots Motorsports I picked up at the Concours d’LeMons, I wanted to return to the mainstream and see what was available in the way of Datsun’s mainstream breakout hit (ignoring the 510). They were commenting on how their first project car was a Z, and that back in 1984 it was just a used car. While I’ve never been a huge fan of the early generations of Datsun Z (probably just because of their popularity), they are an attractive car with a good power-to-weight ratio that are on the cusp of being valuable the same way 1950s sports cars are now. And with their spec, they’re still perfectly capable of keeping up with today’s traffic. Also, as with most cars, when they’re not so common the road I remember what I like in the few examples I do see running around.
Let’s go to today’s example, a pale yellow (just like GRM’s) 1972 Datsun 240Z in Sacramento, CA for $2900. According to the seller, it’s got its original paint and has been upgraded to a 5-speed, which should make for easier freeway cruising. At this price level, you’d want to ask how the work was done and about the origins of the transmission to make sure it’s not part of the reason for the sale. In fact, at this price level, when buying a car that’s more popular than, say, a Renault 17, you’d want to do your homework well since even the worst cars command higher prices.
Well, that headline is bound to annoy somebody. The closest I’ve come to driving either of those two cars is a Karmann Ghia and a Mini Moke, so I speak with a level of authority that can only be recognized on the internet. That said, I’ve always wanted to try a Minor since it’s got that fun little A-series engine, chassis by Issigonis, and cute styling. The other fun part about these, and the reason they’re suitable here, is parts and upgrades are plentiful and cheap, even though they went out of production 38 years ago. You can also go off the deep end and drop in something like a twincam Fiat motor, the virtues of which I’ve expounded upon in other posts. Body style options are also broad, with a 2-door, 4-door, convertible, pickup and wagon (of course the first two are most affordable).
With that as an introduction, here is our first Morris post. The Moggie in question is a 1967 model listed in Millbrae, CA for $2850. Since it’s a later model, it benefits from the raging 48hp of the 1098cc engine. This puts it behind the 1500 Beetle in power, but it makes up for it in reduced weight.