|The Datsun 210 went into production in October 1957 and continued
through until September 1958. In an odd
marketing move the new 210 was released at the same time as the new Datsun
114 sedan. The 114 was the direct replacement for the previous Datsun 113,
and the Datsun 210 entered the range as a higher specification version
of the 114.
The body of the Datsun 210 is pretty much identical to the
one used for the previous Datsun 113 model, the only major difference being
a slightly altered grille support panel at the front of the car that allows
the new grille to protrude forward slightly. The new grille design features
three large horizontal bars, and a raised section at the top that incorporates
a red DATSUN badge.
The other distinguishing feature of the Datsun 210 is that
it has stainless steel side strips that start at the front of the car and
finish about 4/5's of the way along the front door. The 113, and the new
114 had no side strips, and the later 211 had full length strips.
Side mounted badges in the car say DATSUN 1000. There is
a round badge in the centre of the dashboard that says DATSUN 1000.
When the Datsun 210 first went into production in October 1957 it used
the same indicator/flasher system as the previous 113, which consisted
of a double ended bullet shaped indicator assembly that sat on the top
of the front guard/fender, as seen in the photo above. It had no indicators
at the front of the car, or at the back, the rear of the car had only two
In response to feedback from the Americans, after trialing the
car in the USA, the indicator system was changed in early 1958. The top
mounted 'bullets' were removed and indicators were fitted to the front
of the car, either side of the grille, and also at the back of the car
just above the stop lights.
Mechanically the 210 was very similar to the previous Datsun
113, running the same chassis, steering and reverse Elliot I beam front
suspension, but the big changes were made in the engine bay.
The 210 was the first Datsun to have a relatively modern
engine. The old 860cc side valve D10 engine, which was little more than
a mildly updated version of the pre-war Datsun engine, was replaced with
the new 988cc over head valve Datsun C series engine. The new engine developed
37hp, a substantial jump up from the 25hp produced by the old side valve
The fact that the new C series engine looked a lot like the
Austin B series engine was no coincidence. In 1953 Nissan signed a licencing
agreement with Austin, allowing Nissan to build and sell Austin A40s and
A50s in Japan. Nissan based their next generation of engines on these Austin
. The Datsun 210 became the first Datsun to be fitted with
12 volt electrical systems, all prewvious models had 6 volt systems.
Although it was based on the Austin engine, it wasn't a direct
copy. In the late 1950s Nissan hired an American engineer by the name of
Donald Stone to work on the C series engine, and he made several modifications
to the Austin engine, improving oil seals and head designs, resulting in
substantial performance and reliability gains over the Austin design. These
early C series engines were known in Japan as the "Stone engine" in honour
of their designer.
The Datsun 114, which continued to be built
alongside the 210, continued to use the old D-10 side valve engine.
most small cars of the era, the Datsun 210 was a fairly basic little car.
There were only a few options available, which were a heater, a clock,
a radio, fog lights, white wall tyres, and a stainless steel strip that
runs along the sills. Export cars all had the 5.13:1 ratio final
drive, but the Japanese domestic market 5.57:1 differential was also available
as an option. For countries with poor quality fuel a low compression
engine, with a 7:1 compression ratio, was also available.
A heavy duty suspension with 7 leaf springs on each wheel,
instead of the usual 5 at the front and 6 at the back, was also an option.
The 210 was known in Japan at the time as the "Isha-no" car, or Doctor's
car, as they were commonly used by local doctors, and were often seen being
used for house calls.
|A Landmark Vehicle in Nissan's History
The Datsun 210 is a landmark vehicle in Nissan's history, for two
very different reasons. Firstly, it was the
first Japanese car to enjoy any real success as an export. The 210 marked
Nissan's first attempts to sell cars in substantial quantities outside
of Asia. In 1957 Nissan exported 739 vehicles, in 1958 export sales jumped
to 3232, most of which were 210s, including 1318 sold in the USA.
But perhaps more significantly, the Datsun 210 had the honour of
becoming the first Japanese car to have motorsport success in the international
arena. In 1958 Nissan entered two Datsun 210s into the torturous Mobilgas
Trial, an epic 16250 kilometre treck around Australia. Out of the 67 cars
entered only 36 made it to the finish line. Two of those 36 cars to finish
were the two Datsun 210s, with "Fuji-Go" the red car, coming first in it's
class. This stunning result from an unknown car maker helped establish
a reputation for reliability for the brand, even before the first cars
went on sale in Australia in 1960. By 1963 more Datsuns were being sold
in Australia than the United States.
A Japanese sales brochure for the Datsun 210.
An English language sales brochure for the 210.
Length - 3880mm
Width - 1466mm
Height - 1500mm
Wheelbase - 2220mm
Weight - 895kg
Top speed - JDM 95kph
- Export 120kph
Transmission - Column change
OHV 4 Cylinder
Model - C
Capacity - 988cc
Bore & Stroke 73x59mm
Power - 37bhp@4600rpm
Torque - 49ft/lb@2400rpm
Compression - 7.5 : 1
Carburettor - Hitachi Solex
VA-26-6 26mm single throat down draught
JDM - 5.57 : 1
Export - 5.13 : 1