Scott and his 1978 Datsun 140Y Coupe

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Retro Japanese with period modifications and flair…. does it get any better? Today on Re:Fuelers Rides, we have Scott and his Datsun 140Y AKA “Datty” who have been a frequent guest at Re:Fuel. “Datty” never fails to attract plenty of attention for its looks especially with its distinctive Takeyari style show exhaust. However, the work and thought process put into the car to get it to where it is today is just as entertaining as the car itself. So here’s Scott to tell you more!

The car is a rare 1978 Datsun 140Y Coupe, one of only 4 early models with the round headlights known to be in the UK with a few others in Ireland. This car was built in Japan and sold new in the UK through a Surrey Datsun dealer to its only previous owner. It is factory fitted with a 1400cc 4Cyl engine with an unusual dogleg 5 speed manual gearbox and RWD. 

The car was bought by me as a bit of a spontaneous purchase in 2011. I have been a fan of retro Japanese cars for a long time and also own an almost as rare 1981 Toyota Corolla KE70 which I bought in 2007. I planned to do some work on the Corolla so wanted something else funky to drive daily. The Datsun popped up on the Retro Rides Forum advertised at a classic car specialist near Penzance. The advert was thin on details with only the make, model and colour and saying it had an MOT on it, mainly because they hadn’t actually got the car in stock yet! The car was due to be dropped off by the now 94 year old original lady owner, in the following few days, as she was giving up driving. I arranged to see the car the morning after its drop off without having seen a photo of it. However, on collection I saw that it was a slightly tatty yet cool car with a lot of potential.

Initially it was my daily driver for 3 years and was often doing a 65 mile round trip commute. I then decided to have a proper play with it and made it more of a toy than a daily. I wanted to recreate some of the custom styling often seen in the retro scene in Japan, to which I have always had a strong passion for. This is where it got interesting!

I created some custom coilover suspension from a mixture of car parts and with a lot of research and help from a friendly welder. This conversion also allowed me to fit bigger brakes from a Datsun 280ZX. I modified the arches, body and even floor sections to get the rare Japanese aftermarket 14×9 Enkei Apache II wheels on and fitting nicely. Then I got into body styling with a front spoiler made from scratch by me and a rear spoiler adapted from a Mk1 Capri 3100RS rear spoiler. 

Aftermarket parts for these cars are non-existent in the UK and not cheap to import from abroad, and that’s if you can find them, hence many of the mods I had to adapt to get the right look. In addition to this I added lots of JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) styled goodies like mirrors, graphics, interior goodies and some parts I only fit for shows like my JDM show plates and THAT exhaust extension that always gets some attention.

I think my favourite thing about my car is that I managed to create something that is unusual in the UK and is built to have fun with yet keep a rare car going. All the parts I use are period and style correct where possible but not in a typical “classic car” way. It’s all about having fun with it yet being authentic to the Japanese styles.

If anyone else wanted to get into Datsun’s (or older Nissan’s as that’s what they became), there are plenty of options out there and not all of them are hard to come by or afford. They do require looking after like most old cars and rust had long been the downfall of many, however mechanically they are very hardy.

They now have a big following throughout the UK and the world. I myself run the ‘Datsun Club UK’ which has a very busy Facebook page with thousands of members, offering help and support for enthusiasts of the brand and also attends several large shows during the year.

I have always loved attending varying types of car shows in my “Datty” from traditional classic car shows to more specialist Retro and Japanese ones, often having gatherings with other ‘Datsun Club UK’ members. We have definitely seen an upturn in interest for the older Japanese cars here in the UK which is fantastic.

Car Facts

Make: Datsun

Model: Sunny 140Y Coupe

Year: 1978

Engine: 1400cc 4Cyl

BHP: 80bhp

Top Speed: unknown

0-62mph Time: unkown

Weight: 850kg

Additional Mods: 14×9 Enkei Apache JDM split rim wheels, custom coilover suspension, Datsun 280ZX uprated front brakes, custom front and rear spoilers, custom exhaust and “Takeyari” extension (for the shows), JDM style fender mirrors, bumpers modded and refitted as per JDM cars, Cobra recliner drivers seat, period style aftermarket wooden steering wheel with custom gold metal flake finish, rear panel wrapped in black vinyl with gold/purple glitter, period/style correct graphics, JDM look show plates, JDM style hang ring, modern stereo and speakers fitted but hidden.