Exactly one week ago whilst sat in front of my computer enjoying a lovely cup of tea, I thought I’d have a casual browse of the marvelous French classified ad website, Leboncoin. There’s always interesting cars for sale on Leboncoin, even the occasional Datsun, although those are often limited to models which are often not terribly desirable. However this time an audible ‘mon dieu!’ was uttered when the first thing I saw was this…
Now, I have been fiddling around with Datsuns for a pretty long time and this has to be the first time I have ever seen a European spec Datsun 1600 SSS for sale. The legendary 510 SSS. I can’t imagine that many were sold in Europe at all! For me this model is the Holy Grail and one which I had never honestly expected to see let alone have the opportunity to acquire. It had to be bought…
I had been hoping that I wouldn’t have to remove the glass from this car as the front and rear screens are bonded in. There was only one tiny rust hole just above the screen on the right hand side but closer examination with a torch revealed there was rust visible under the bonding inside the screen, so unfortunately it had to come out. With the stock original glass, it’s not to much of a trauma to get the screen out, but this car has had the original glass replaced with a laminated screen. These are a lot harder to remove without breaking them, especially as it seems many glass fitters tent to go overboard with the adhesive making it harder to cut through. I only have one spare screen and I wouldn’t expect to have much joy finding a new one so I really needed to remove this one without cracking it!
This was a pretty simple and straightforward panel replacement. The replacement valance is part number 79121-K2430. The original valance wasn’t rusty but it was badly damaged in two places and there were signs of rust starting in the seam where it’s attached to the boot floor and back panel. The first job was to remove it, which was done by drilling out the spot welds from below across the horizontal seam and by using a die grinder on the vertical seams at the end. The spot welds on the horizontal seam were drilled right through the three layers.
Strangely the 710 Violet is not a popular car, nor it seems, has it ever been. Introduced in 1973, it was intended to replace the outgoing 510 in the line-up. The 610 introduced in 1970, which is technically the next model on from the 510 as part of the Bluebird series, was considerably larger and the 510 remained on sale beside it until 1973. The 710 was similar in size to the 510 and the SSS variants carried the same independent rear suspension. Alas, the two biggest markets for the 510, Australia and the USA, never got the 710 in SSS form which no doubt is one of the factors in the cars negligible popularity today. In fact Australia they never got any 710’s at all so it’s all the more strange then that one of it’s greatest rally victories should come in the Australian Southern Cross rally in 1977. Nissan certainly made good use of this success in their advertising campaign from 1977 with this advert for the Violet SSS hardtop…
The left rear quarter is the area of the body that needs the most attention, as not only do I have the rusty wheel arch, sill and lower rear corner to deal with, bit it’s also somewhat dented too. Some of the dents were straightened by hand whist doing the rust repairs but a lot of careful prep is going to be needed to make this part of the car look good under black paint. Before I could think about that though, I had the rust to deal with. The left rear wheel arch only looked a little bit worse than the right to begin with but actually turned out to need considerably more work. As on the right hand side, I had a new inner arch panel (part # 76713-K0130) and a rear quarter from a late 710 saloon (part # 78113-N7430) to help make the repairs, but even with these to help me a fair bit of fabrication was still needed.
Regular visitors will no doubt have noticed that it’s been a while since the last update on the 160J SSS project but it’s not because I’ve been slacking, on the contrary, I have been putting a lot of hours in on it. Currently, the welding has been completed and the prep work for paint is well underway. Putting in a lot of hours leaves me less time and often less enthusiasm for spending the free moments I have editing pictures and writing it all up. I was also working to a deadline, hoping to have the car finished by mid August, but as that’s become increasingly unlikely I’ve decided to slow the pace of the work a little. At least this will give me more time to update the site on the projects progress as well as maybe writing about a few other things. As it stands, the car should be getting painted within the next two weeks but at present i still have a lot of work to do before the final shiney black topcoat gets applied. In the next few posts, I’ll update on the work I’ve done since the last update last month.
The left hand sill structure actually looked quite solid, in fact along it’s length it didn’t have any rust holes at all. The only visible rust was in the area where the bottom edge of the front wing mounts. Despite the apparently good condition, I was going to replace it anyway as I had on hand a genuine replacement sill (part # 76413-K1330) and it’s the only way I could be sure of eliminating future rust issues. I started by chopping the main section of the sill away using an air chisel, leaving the spot-welded seams in place. Once off, the inside of the sill showed plenty of surface rust and and the front of the inner sill required exactly the same type of repair as I had done on the right hand side.
Having completed the right hand side of the car it’s time to tackle the rust on the other side. This is no doubt going to entail pretty much the same work as doing the right side so I’ll probably gloss over some of the details and just provide the pictures and note any differences in the work required. At first glance it seems that the inner wing and upper strengthener are maybe a little better than the previous side but this doesn’t make a lot of difference really as it’s the same amount of work to repair what rust is there. The sill isn’t as rusty but the left rear arch is considerably worse than the right, requiring the entire edge to be replaced all the way around. The inner sill areas by the rear cross-member mount is much worse too so there’ll be some fabrication needed there. I’ll be working my way along the car in the same manner as I did the first side so I start with the inner wing strengthener.
The final area to tackle on this side of the car is the front inner wing. Initial inspection only revealed rust in the most common area for these cars to go, the bottom of the strut tower just above the chassis leg, but once the underseal was scraped off from the under arch area there were definitely a few more suspicious looking areas. The bottom couple of inches of the inner wing panel overlaps the chassis rail on 710’s so that whole area is double skinned. Any moisture coming down the inner wing in the engine bay runs straight into this seam as it’s not sealed so rust can build up in there, rotting the section from the inside out. Not wishing to take any chances of future rust developing, I figured it was time to chop the lot out and replace it.
After all the work of getting the rear wheel arch into shape, it was nice to move onto something a little more straight forward (well… relatively). I figured the lower rear corner should be fairly simple as I had a donor panel for a late 710 saloon (part # 78112-N7430) which I could chop up to supply the necessary repair sections. The saloon is actually a tiny bit different to the hardtop in this area but thankfully not enough to render the panel unusable. As it turned out the lower corner was relatively simple but the second job of the day, repairing the sill end closing panel, certainly wasn’t!