With classic Japanese cars starting to have their moment in the spotlight, more early Japanese cars are emerging from their hidey holes for people who see their potential to bring them back. Now, instead of suffering under the label of tinny, poor quality excuses for transportation, they’re seen with a nostalgic eye (even if it’s not so likely the people who originally had them would be nostalgic for them). Is this because people who can’t afford admission to (or don’t like) the European and American classic car scenes are looking for an alternative, or because people who already are into Japanese cars are looking back for some sense of where their Civics and 370Zs came from? Either way, you should probably start hoarding Hyundai Excels and the rare Mitsubishi Precis derivative in anticipation of a similar thing happening for Korean car fans. Check out this 1959 Datsun 1000 for sale for $2000 in Fair Oaks, CA.
Okay, so you’re not buying it for its looks – on the one hand, it’s a bit dumpy looking, but it also looks like a depiction of a car you might see in a cartoon – imagine it with a mouth and headlights drawn as eyes. With only 37hp from its overhead valve motor and leaf springs all around, driving it will be cartoonishly slow, but at this end of the market you’re not suffering any delusions of going fast. That said, this car, which seems to have been red at some point, is wearing California blue plates so has likely been there since at least the early 1980s, and looks to wear all its trim.
The interior looks equally complete, which is good since trim bits are probably as rare on these as on special bodied Italian cars. Things also look complete on the tiny underhood picture the seller supplied, and it’s said to have 42,000 original miles, along with the original engine and transmission. If there are records back that far to prove it, just be pleasantly surprised. The column shifter should just add to the funky experience, so if the oddball factor works for you, this car should have it as much as most contemporary European people’s cars.
Everything looks good and complete on the other side too. A few years ago, you could have argued restoring this one would be as difficult as restoring a 1950s Hillman or Austin, but with the classic Japanese car scene growing, there will probably be more resources for parts, and people on this side of the Pacific who can at least help in sourcing parts, if not sell you them themselves. And fortunately, a small simple car like this won’t require much in the way of paint or upholstery, so with any luck you can keep things affordable in exchange for a respectable outcome. What would you do with this?