The 1967 model Datsun Fairlady went into production in March of that year, and is generally refered to as the 1967 1/2 model. The 1967 1/2 Fairlady looks pretty similar to the previous model, but looks can be deceiving, as this car became the first Japanese production car capable of travelling in excess of 200kph.
During 1966 Nissan's engineers were hard at work modifying the 1595cc R series engine that was fitted to the SP311 Fairlady. This same engine was also being built in a stroked version known as the H20, which had the same bore size but had an increase in capacity to 1982cc, this H20 engine was being used in the Caball and Junior trucks. The previous R and H20 engines had a three bearing crankshaft and had imperial threads and bolts. The new versions of these engines they were working on had five bearing crankshafts and metric threads. This new 5 bearing R series engine would end up being fitted to the new 1967 1/2 Fairlady SP311. This new engine yielded no more power than the old 3 bearing R series engine, but it did give the engine an incredibly strong bottom end that was capable of withstanding extreme internal forces, far beyond those exerted by the 1595cc Fairlady.
Toyota had already shown their prototypes of the Toyota 2000GT sports car, which was due to go into production midway through 1967. The 2000GT would top 200kph when it went into production, Nissan had to respond. Initially the Nissan's management suggested fitting a six cylinder engine into the Fairlady. Fitting the six would involve lengthening the wheelbase and extending the front of the car, some clay mockups were built but the result was very unattractive. In the end a solution to the power problem was found thanks to a new ally.
In 1966 the Nissan Motor Company and the Prince Motor Company had merged, and Prince was being intergrated into Nissan. Prince were considerably more advanced with their engine designs than Nissan were, and had been building their overhead cam G-7 engines for several years, which were first fitted to the Prince Gloria sedan and then to the Prince Skyline GT. Prince were quite advanced in their design of a new OHC engine which was being planned for a new model which would end up being sold as the Nissan Laurel. A decision was made to use the overhead cam cylinder head design they were working on and fit it to the block of the new 5 bearing 1982cc H20 engine. The resulting engine would be called the U20, which would end up being fitted to a new variant of the Fairlady called the SR311. Interestingly, the Prince engineers ended up with a completely different cylinder head design for the Laurel, which instead ended up with an overhead cam cross flow design rather than having the intake and exhaust ports on the same side, as it was on the U20.
The Nissan U20 engine was a wonderful engine. It came fitted with two Mikuni Solex dual throat carburettors and managed to produce 150hp from it's 1982cc engine, giving it an output of over 75hp per litre, a mighty impressive figure in it's day. Not only did the SR311 have the power to match, and in most cases exceed that of other sports cars in it's class, it produced this power with a level of reliability not matched by any other contemporary sports cars. Not only did the SR311 have a great engine, it was also mated to a new 5 speed gearbox, something that was quite advanced for it's time. The U20 engine was unique to the SR311 Fairladys, no other car ever used this engine, and it was substantially different to the Yamaha designed OHC L series engines Nissan would use for the next couple of decades. The L series 4 cylinder engines would be much cheaper to build than the U20, and would better suit their task as an everyday car engine, but they would never match the strength or output of these incredible engines.
Whilst the car enjoyed some major improvements to it's mechanical specifications, it's interior suffered something of a downgrade in terms of it's appearance. Two major factors affected the 1967 1/2 Fairladys interiors, one was the coming introduction of new safety requirements in the car's biggest marketplace, the United States, the other was a quest within Nissan to make the car less expensive to build. All chromework within the driver's field of vision was abolished, as the glare from chrome could theoretically blind the driver. As a result the chrome rings around the gauges were now painted black, and other items such as switches and the inside of the windscreen frame were now painted a dull grey colour.
As part of the cost saving measure the dash now had 5 round dials rather than 7 in the previous model, with two of the dials being combination gauges. The doors had light weight internal mechanisms, and also now used the 'pull out' style interior door handles from the 130 series Nissan Cedric. The seats were a simpler and easier to build design, and also offered a very unattractive headrest as an option. The interior was still a very attractive and sporting design, though it lacked the charm of the previous chrome filled model.
The body of the car underwent several changes, some were quite obvious, whilst others were not visable but had to do with making the car easier to build. The most obvious changes were to the wheel arch flares, which were much bigger and gave the car a wonderful 'boy racer' look. The bonnet scoop is also enlarged, giving the front a more agressive look. The stainless steel side strips have changed and are now a convex shape rather than the concave type of the previous models. The badge on the bonnet is the same as the previous model, with individual letters that spell Datsun. On the side there are the same Fairlady badges that have been used since the SPL212 in 1960. The Fairlady badge sits above the side strip, while below the strip there is a new 1600 badge on the SP311 version, or a 2000 badge on the SR311. At the back of the car there is a new Fairlady badge in a running writing style font, and under that there is either a 1600 or 2000 badge. For most export models the Fairlady badges were deleted and instead the cars were fitted with the same Datsun badge that was used on the grille of the R411 Bluebird SSS.
From the outside except for the badges the 1967 1/2 SP311 and SR311 are identical, with two exceptions. The two models have different grilles, the SP311 continues to use the same grille as the previous model, with three wide horizontal bars in the middle, while the 2 litre SR311 has a grille that comprises the outer part of the old SP310 grille with a new center section with two wider horizontal bars with a narrow bar inbetween them. The SR311 grille also had a large badge in the middle with a stylised D in the centre. At the back of the car the SR311 has a stainless steel trim around the number plate, while the SP311 version does not.
The changes made to the car meant that the SP311 version weighed 20kg less than the 1965 model, and because of it's simplified construction it was cheaper to build and went on sale in Japan at a lower price than the 1965 model. The SR311 version was, quite rightfully, sold at a premium price, as it not only set the benchmark by which other Japanese performance cars would be judged, it also comfortably outperformed pretty well every car in it's class, including the British sports cars that the uneducated were claiming the Fairlady was only a mere copy of. Even when the Mazda Miata MX-5 was released, with the advantage of two decades of new technology and an ultra modern twin cam engine it was no faster than an SR311 in it's 0-100kph times, and the Mazda still couldn't match the SR311's 200kph+ top speed.
The 1967 1/2 SP311 and SR311 Datsun Fairladys were in production for only a brief time between March 1967 and September 1967. The cars were replaced by the 1968 model SP311 and SR311 in October 1967.
The SR311 version featured the 150hp 1982cc U20 engine. Grille has a large D emblem in the middle.
The SP311 version featured the 96hp 1595cc R engine. Grille has three wide horizontal bars and no emblem.
Length - 3955mm
Width - 1495mm
Height - 1300mm
Wheelbase - 2280mm
Weight - 910kg
Top speed - 205kph
Transmission - 5 speed Floor change
Model - U20
OHC 4 Cylinder
Capacity - 1982cc
Bore & Stroke - 87x83mm
Power - 150hp@5000rpm
Torque - 131ft/lb@3600rpm
Compression - 9.5 : 1
Carburettors - twin dual throat side draught Mikuni Solex 44PHH
Final Drive - 3.7 : 1
Model - R
OHV 4 Cylinder
Capacity - 1595cc
Bore & Stroke - 87x66mm
Power - 96hp@5000rpm
Torque - 103ft/lb@3600rpm
Compression - 9.0 : 1
Carburettors - twin single throat side draught Hitachi 38HJB
Final Drive - 3.889 : 1
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