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All posts for the month August, 2008

Although the release of new models of vintage Japanese cars from Ebbro seems to have slowed considerably these days, over the last few years they have produced some beautifully detailed 1/43 diecast miniatures for collectors. Whilst many capture the usual suspects, the KPGC10 Skyline and Toyota 2000GT for example, there are many others that are more obscure, which until Ebbro modelled them had been largely unavailable in detailed small scale. The B120 Sunny pickup and 30 model Cedric are just a couple of examples.  Another treat for enthusiasts are the various models of competition cars from the 60’s and 70’s such as the Safari Rally cars and the beautiful BRE Trans Am 2.5 winning Datsun 510. As the range available from Ebbro has now grown to be quite large and not all of the models are available new any more, I thought it might be worth putting together a list of the models they have issued so far. The list I have compiled here only includes models of older cars, generally those that are pre 1983, and covers all the Japanese marques, not just Nissan.

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Yesterday saw the second annual get together organised by the Retro Rides crew, this time at the Motor Heritage Centre at Gaydon in Warwickshire. Despite being a one day event and the weather looking like it might not be great, there was a very large turnout and a colossal variety of cars on display from all marques and genres. As it turned out the fears about the weather proved to be unfounded as it remained dry for the day. The show, combined with the awesome Gaydon museum provided almost too much to see in one day which meant less opportunity to chat with folks there and I was even hard pressed to get pictures of all the cars. Indeed, I missed out quite a few which I’d have liked to had snapped for the site so apologies to those who cars I missed! Check out the pictures after the jump…

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1961_02 _modern_motor_01Are they any good? …was the question posed by the Australian magazine Modern Motor back in February 1961, when the country was faced with the imminent arrival of the first full scale Datsun imports from Japan. As with many countries, the UK included, Japanese imports were eyed with some suspicion initially and were seen as a great threat to the domestic car industries.

Many older people in the UK still hold this view simply because our own car industry slowly self destructed through the 1970’s and 1980’s. However, pretty much everywhere else in the world the respective domestic car industries survived the tidal wave of Japanese imports and most of these companies still manufacture cars to this day.

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In the early days of British sales, Datsuns were advertised heavily in the motoring media. Combined with a excellent value and reliability offered by the cars, this promotion led to the staggering success of Datsun UK in the early 1970’s. The level of their achievement can be seen if you consider the sales statistics. Datsun UK sold 6900 cars in the UK in 1971 and by the end following year that number had hit 30,000 only to be more than doubled in 1973 to 60,500! By 1976 Datsun UK held 6% of the entire UK market, representing more than 60% of all Japanese imports and outselling Toyota by nearly three to one. In fact the UK was the only market in the world at that time where Nissan outsold Toyota.

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Back at the end of 2007 I posted what was to be the first part of a series of photo galleries featuring a number of awesome scrapyards I have visited over the last few years. The pictures here were shot back in 2001 and 2002 at a fantastic scrapyard in the south of Finland. The variety at this place was unbelievable with everything from 1950’s American cars to obscure Russian and Eastern European stuff. There was even a Canadian built Bombadier half track and a number of very early pre war cars. Whilst many had clearly languished there for a very long time, others looked to be very savable indeed, including several fairly rare Japanese cars. Places like this have disappeared from the UK and with European regulations these kind of scrapyards will soon be a thing of the past even in Finland.

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Back in March, in part one I covered the pillarless hardtops built by Nissan up until 1975, so here in part two, I’ll take a look at the other hardtop models produced up until the company dropped the Datsun brand name on their export models around 1983. There was a distinct change in the appearance of Nissan’s hardtops after 1976. Gone were the swoopy lines and the miniaturised American Muscle Car looks, to be replaced with more sober, squarer styles. The cars certainly still had an American look to them, in particular the larger models, but they looked less altogether sporting than before.

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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!

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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.

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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…

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I figured it might be good to write a bit about some of the cars we have owned in the past which we no longer own. Back in 2004 I’d started to stray from the path of old car righteousness and had started spending too much of my time messing with less worthy modern cars. This culminated in me coming over all fast and furious by 2005 when I took up drifting and ran in a couple of championships. I’ll admit I had a huge amount of tyre smoking fun throughout 2005 but back at home all my Datsuns sat forgotten. By the end of 2005, having spent every penny I had on hooning around sideways in a 200SX, I realised I needed to get down to some serious work and get my neglected old cars sorted. What I needed was something easy to ease me back into old car tinkering… an old car that already worked and that was on the road that i could just drive and enjoy to bring back the passion. And it so happened that my friend Jon came up with just the remedy needed to kick start my old car enthusiasm once more. A 1976 Datsun 160B (610).

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