Datsun 1600 SSS

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Datsun 1600 SSS

1967 - 1972
4 cyl.
1595 cc
109 bhp
4 spd. man
Top Speed:
Number Built:
3 star

by Richard Clough

From 1967 to 1972 there was a car that won the respect of nearly everyone that drove it.

Perhaps with less showroom appeal than the competition, the Datsun 1600 quickly etched itself into the psyche of many young Australians as arguably the first true "Performance 4".

There was no doubting the allure of the big, and expensive, V8's of the day such as the Falcon GT, but to many of the younger generation the 1600, and in particular the "SSS", were a cheaper alternative and, given the right road conditions, could easily blow a V8 away.

Your wealthy mate could stand aside his GT and claim "King of the Bitumen"; you could stand aside a 1600 and claim "King of the Dirt".

The 1600 would win the infamous East Africa Safari Rally, one of the world's toughest motor sport events, and in the US the famous No. 46 "Brock Racing Enterprises" Datsun 1600 would take out the under 2.5 liter "Trans-am" Series in a cliffhanger final race beating the best of Europe, including manufacturers BMW and Alfa Romeo.

It was after these races that the legend of the Datsun 1600 was born, and thousands of car lovers today still look in reverence at these unimposing but potent Japanese "sports sedans".

From 1968 to 1970 the Datsun 1600 SSS was supplied to Australia from Japan on special order, and unfortunately their lack of availability resulted in very low sales. Very early examples were specially imported by John Roxborough's factory backed "Datsun Racing Team" to compete in the first 500 mile endurance car races at Phillip Island, later Bathurst.

In 1970 changes to the "Australian Design Rules" required all new cars to be fitted with a collapsible steering column. The Japanese built Datsun 1600 SSS was not fitted with one, and as their factory was some way off making the required changes it was decided to switch production to the Melbourne factory in Clayton.

Nearly every legislative change to safety or emissions resulted in the early demise of a particular model, but in this case the once rare (on Australian roads) 1600 became rather more ubiquitous! In Australia, Datsun 1600s were very successfully rallied by almost everybody in the 1970's through to the late 1990's, over 20 years of dominance! Geoff Portman and Ross Runnells were the rally team that cemented the legend in Australia.

Here seen in the 1978 Repco Alpine Rally in their famous IFK 250, powered by the also legendary Les Collins built, Datrally "grunter" engine. It took specialized 4wd turbocharged forest racers to put Datsun 1600's out of contention at the top the sport. At club rally level you still see Datsun 1600's in the high placings. Datsun 1600's have become collector items as many were destroyed in competition or driven until they "dropped" - and this often took 30 years!

Most sought after today are the earlier 1967 and 1968 models fully imported from Japan, the Australian built cars being more prone to rust. Younger Datsun 1600 enthusiasts are now fitting high performance Nissan turbo engines, as the basic bodies are strong and there is 30 years knowledge of readily available upgrades to handle the increased performance.

Datsun 1600's were sold in Australia from 1967 to 1972, being first fully imported, until local production at Clayton, Victoria commenced from late 1969. Datsun 1600 production ceased in 1972 when it was replaced by Datsun 180B.

Datsun 1600 SSS Specifications:

  • Datsun 1600 SSS - 1967 -1972
  • Model Designation P510 - hence the US tern "Five and Dime" - also called a Datsun "Bluebird" in other markets.
  • Body: 4 Door Sedan - also available as 2 door Sedan and 2 door coupe, most exports going to the USA, as demand was huge.
  • Full instrumentation, black interior trim, SSS sports steering wheel, SSS gear knob, "SSS" badging, engine bay light.
  • Engine: 1595cc fitted with twin SU Type, hitachi built, 38mm side draft carburetors
  • Power: 109BHP @ 6000 RPM
  • Gearbox: 4 Speed manual and reverse Diff: R160 Independent, 3.7:1 Ratio Brakes: Disc (F) Drum (R)
  • Wheels: 4.5" width by 13" dia. fitted with radial tires
  • Suspension:
    • Front, independent McPherson Stuts.
    • Rear, independent semi trailing arms. Stiffer springs, re-rated shock absorbers, stiffer anti roll bar.
  • Top Speed: 105 MPH
  • Fuel consumption average. 28 mpg (10 liters / 100K)>
  • Price $A new. $3000 (about $A800 above the "standard" Datsun 1600

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Also see:

Datsun 1600 Brochure
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