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1962 Datsun Fairlady SP310
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After a few less than successful attempts at building a sports car Nissan finally got it right in 1962 with the Datsun Fairlady SP310. 
The previous SPL212 and SPL213 Fairladys were rather attractive little cars, but their performance never matched their sporty looks, and this reflected in their sales. From 1952, when the first Datsun sports car, the DC-3 was released up until 1962 when the SP310 arrived, Nissan's total sports car production amounted to only 515 vehicles. In the eight years from 1962 until the end of the decade Nissan would sell over 50000 sports cars, nearly one hundred times more than the previous decade, all thanks to this beautiful little car. 
The new Fairlady was a significantly better car than it's predecessor. Like the previous Datsun sports cars the new SP310 was based on the mechanicals of another car in the range, this time it was the 310 series Datsun Bluebird sedan. The 310 Bluebird was a giant leap for Nissan in mechanical sophistication. The older sedans were all rather crude, with their chassis and suspension based on Datsun truck designs. The 310 Bluebird was very different, and no longer shared any of it's undercarriage with a truck, instead it had a purpose built chassis with double wishbone front suspension. A heavilly modified version of this setup was to be used on the Fairlady. The two main rails of the Bluebird chassis, plus the front crossmember that the suspension attaches to, were used on the Fairlady, but significant alterations were done to the rest of the chassis to strengthen it. The centre part of the chassis rails were doubled, with a second U shaped section welded under the existing rails. The thin rails that connected the two main rails on the Bluebird were removed and replaced with much heavier box sections, similar in size to the main chassis rails. Then the chassis' most dramatic feature was added, a massive X brace under the seats that linked both main rails. This feature gave the chassis enormous torsional strength. 
The steering and suspension systems were a modified version of those used on the Bluebird. The upper and lower wishbones were essentially the same, but the Fairlady had a different sway bar design, which attached to two inverted towers under the chassis and then slotted directly into the lower wishbone. The complete steering system was the same as the Bluebird, except that the steering box has a larger diameter sector shaft. The rear suspension featured a live axle design, but instead used the bigger differential and axles from the larger Cedric sedan. The front and rear spring rates were very different to those on the sedan. 
 Also carried over from the Cedric sedan was the engine. Earlier Fairladys used the same engines as the sedans they were based on, which meant they used the 1189cc E and E-1 engines. The SP310 used the 1488cc G series engine from the 30 series Cedric sedan, which apart from being a substantially bigger and stronger engine than the E series, it also featured a cylinder head with four intake ports instead of the two on the E engines. The G engine used in the Cedric had a dual throat down draught Nikki carburettor, the version used in the Fairlady instead had a single side draught 38mm Hitachi carburettor, which was very similar in design to the British SU carburettor. The Cedric produced 71hp while the Fairlady produced 77hp. The gearbox used was a 4 speed floor change unit with synchromesh on 2nd, 3rd and 4th gears. 
The body of the SP310 Fairlady was very attractive. The occasional less-educated person will claim that the Fairlady is a copy of the British MGB, though the fact is that the Fairlady was first displayed in 1961, well before the MGB made it's appearance. In reality the two cars arent even remotely similar, apart from the fact they are both small convertibles. The Fairlady if anything has a more Italian look, and holds more in common with the 1959 Fiat 1200 convertible than anything British. 
 The front of the car features a grille with a chrome surround that contains a pressed metal grille with five horizontal bars and nine vertical bars. Either side of the grille sits the headlights, which are recessed into chrome plated scoops. The bonnet has a raised bulge in the centre with a small air intake scoop. The car's wheelarches have a small flare front and back. A rear fin, something akin to a subtle version of the one seen on a Sunbeam Alpine, is located at the back of the car, starting just behind the door opening and continuing through to the back of the car. Mounted at the back of these fins is the car's most distinctive feature, it's tail lights. These consist of two round chrome assemblies on each side that protrude from the back of the car, and are stacked vertically. Above these is a reflector in the shape of a smaller version of the bigger tail lights. The car has a polished stainless steel strip that travels along the entire length of it's side. On the front guard, just above this strip and close to the door opening, there is a Fairlady badge. On the bonnet there is a wings shaped badge with Datsun on it, the same badge is used on the rear of the car. The boot lid has exposed hinges and a twist to open handle on top of the boot lid. 
Inside the car lives it's other distinctive feature, it's third seat. While most cars of this size are all two seaters the Fairlady features a sideways facing third seat. This uncomfortable and cramped little seat sat higher than the front seats and placed your head above the height of the windscreen, exposing your head to the wind and all those insects that usually splatter on the windscreen. This odd feature disappeared from the car late in 1964. The dashboard of the car is painted the same colour as the outside of the car, and has four large round dials with a black surround. A small centre console hangs under the dash and contains a radio and vent controls. The soft top has a antiquated design, with a frame you have to unfold and assemble before rolling the fabric over the frame. 
 In June 1963 an altered version of the SP310 was released. The first cars used the G series engine with a single side draught carburettor. In the revised version the G engine was fitted with a new intake manifold with two 38mm side draught Hitachi carburettors. At the same time the old pressed steel tappet cover was replaced with a new finned alloy cover. A new lighter 4 into 2 into 1 pressed steel extractor was also fitted. All this increased the power from 77hp to 85hp. The only significant external change was to the badge on the back of the car, which now said Datsun 1500 instead of simply Datsun. 
 These early three seater Fairladys were in production from October 1962 until August 1964, when the car was replaced by the two seater Fairlady SP310.

A sales brochure for the Datsun Fairlady SP310
 1962 Datsun Fairlady Specifications 
Length - 3953mm   
Width - 1495mm   
Height - 1275mm   
Wheelbase - 2280mm   
Weight - 870kg   
Top speed - 150kph 
Transmission - 4 speed Floor change

Engine Specifications 
Model - G 
OHV 4 Cylinder  
Capacity - 1488cc   
Bore & Stroke - 80x74mm  
Power - 77hp@5200rpm 
Torque - 87ft/lb@3600rpm 
Compression - 8.0 : 1 
Carburettor - single side draught 38HJB Hitachi 

Final Drive - 3.889 : 1


Engine Specifications 
Model - G 
OHV 4 Cylinder  
Capacity - 1488cc   
Bore & Stroke - 80x74mm  
Power - 85hp@5000rpm 
Torque - 87ft/lb@3600rpm 
Compression - 9.0 : 1 
Carburettors - twin side draught 38HJB Hitachi 

Final Drive - 3.889 : 1

 

Model Variations
 
1962 Datsun Fairlady SP310  
The original Fairlady SP310 had only a single carburettor. Badge on the back says Datsun.
1963 Datsun Fairlady SP310 
Twelve months after the original SP310 went on sale a new version apperaed with twin carburettors. Badge on the back says Datsun 1500.
Datsun Bluebird 310 
The Datsun Fairlady SP310 was based on the chassis of the Datsun Bluebird sedan. More information about this vehicle can be found on the Datsun Bluebird 310 page.

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