Roadster History

This site is all about my wife’s 1970 Datsun 1600 SPL311 Roadster.  She bought it and became the second owner when the car was less than a year old and has owned it since.  It was her daily driver for years and was parked in good condition in 1999.  There was no room in the garage at the time so it sat outside for two years before being moved inside for another 12 year nap……. ZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzz

1st Site
My First View of it in the garage.

We recently married and I discovered this sleeping beauty in her garage on Whitemarsh Island, near Savannah, Ga. under a pile of boxes and debris.  It was still there, resting, simply because she was always so fond of it she could never bear the thought of selling it.  In fact, she is naturally looking forward to a chance to drive it again.

I have sorted through and hauled away years of accumulated ‘junk’ of the type we all end up cramming into our garages and have finally created enough room to set up shop and begin looking at this project.

Back Inside up on Jack stands
Garage cleaned up and car back Inside up on Jack stands

Obviously, the entire brake system has to be rebuilt, including the whole brake line system.  It is completely dried out and probably rusty from one end to the other.  The dual master cylinder for the brake system and the master cylinder and slave for the clutch will have to be rebuilt or replaced.   I have found kits for the back breaks including shoes, springs, cylinder kits, and even the rubber hoses.  Same for the front discs……. I am, however,  finding out both how scarce and how costly parts are for these roadsters.

Having sat outside for two years UV and Rain has ruined the vinyl top

Pushed out and power washed for first time in 14 years.
Pushed out and power washed for first time in 14 years.

and interior.  The floorboards are solid though so I am thankful for small surprises.  The dash is not too bad except for the usual UV caused split in the padded part.  The seats are rotten and will be replaced with Miata or similar seats in due time.

Before power washing.
Before power washing.
Before power washing.
Before power washing.

The biggest ‘Iffy’ problem I have so far is that the engine is frozen.  It was not seized while running though.  She says it was running fine when she last parked it.  I pulled the plugs and they all looked good except the back one which had evidence of corrosion.  Apparently the head gasket leaked some water into the cylinder (I refuse to think about cracked blocks yet) and even though it was dried right back out when she was driving regularly that last time the water seeped in it stayed long enough to cause this and who knows how much other problems further down like the cylinder wall and rings.  I left the plugs out and filled the cylinders with Mystery Oil two months ago and it has soaked since.  My plan is to remove the head and have it checked and the valves redone at a machine shop while I take off the gas tank and clean and repair it…. I will put finish up the tank with that platic type coating that seals even pin holes so it should turn out alright.  Also I have to take the SU carbs off and dismantle them, clean, and put in repair kits too   While the head is off I will inspect the cylinders and clean what I can out…… see if I can turn the engine over enough to move the pistons up and down some while I continue to clean out that bad cylinder……. then a little more oil in……  complete change of oil in the crankcase, filter, and it will be time to turn the engine over with the starter enough to see if there is any sign of oil pressure.   Then back to see how the cylinder wall in that back piston area fared during the turning over of the engine.   I know of no way to tell the condition of the rings or if they will loosen back up short of pulling the piston which I hope I do not have to do.  Anyone else have any ideas regarding this problem?  I won’t really have enough info to make any decisions until I get a look down that cylinder so I can make an educated guess about the rings.  That will have to wait until I finish removing the head.  It’s almost done now.  I just need to finish taking off the intake and exhaust.


5 thoughts on “Roadster History”

  1. Pretty Roadster!

    For the time to remove the head, you can remove the motor/trans. This way you can really clean up the engine bay and the motor – repaint as needed. Also, if you find a piston seized, putting in new rings (hone cylinders) and bearings are straight forward. You can relocate the alternator to the smog pump location. The radiator may need a good service too. Hey – check the clutch condition, counter shaft in the 4 speed, ,, The fun begins! Very enjoyable car to work on!

  2. Very good story! If you have to pull the head, it is not too terrible on a 1600. I am just down the road in Jacksonville, FL. Welcome to the Roadster world!

    1. Thanks. Back in the mid sixties I had a red MGA and there were no import garages or mechanics in those days. The only way I could get it fixed was to order the parts directly from the distributor in Jacksonville and get him to put the parts on a bus COD to me and then fix it myself in the driveway. Of course, I was much younger then too…. :)

  3. I have all the brake parts now, including new rotors, calipers, pads, and rear shoes. Total cost about 1k. I have the new brake lines and fuel line too but have been sick again but hope to get back working on it before the end of the summer. Keep checking in.

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