Retro Rally Sunny

Phil Morton’s Datsun 1200 (Sunny) coupe is pretty unique in British rallying. Not many people would have chosen such a rare car with which to attack the forest stages, for fear of unobtainable parts, but having previously campaigned a Datsun Sunny (B310), there was a good deal of logic in the choice for Phil. Running the B310 had left him with a nice hoard of performance goodies for the Datsun A series engine. Also, the suspension set-up of the B310, which was pretty much tried and tested, could be re-worked into the B110 fairly easily. The big advantage of the B110 of course,was its minimal kerb weight, which ensures a very healthy power to weight ratio, even with a relatively small displacement engine. The other, not so obvious bonus of running such an unusual car, is the extra publicity it generates. People always love a giant killer and running a small stylish little coupe like this is sure to grab peoples attention, which in turn means the potential for more sponsorship…

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Datsun Techno Toys

Techno Toy Tuning (T3) has been machining up specialised parts for Toyota enthusiasts for some time, but their line-up also offers a bunch of very nice parts for Datsuns. T3’s offerings consist primarily of suspension components, all of which are custom fabricated for performance applications. Parts are available for 240Z, 510/610, as well as S13 and S14 models. The selection for 510 and 610 models includes coil-over conversions for both front and rear suspension, camber plates and roll center adjusters. Their fully adjustable tension/compression rods look particularly well made. Prices are very reasonable too, especially with the dollar still being relatively weak against the pound. T3 camber plates, come in at only $180 a pair and having bought a set previously, I can vouch for their excellent quality. Adjustable T/C rods are just $200, and their own strut brace is a bargain at $119. But that’s not all that T3 have to offer. Anyone in the market for a nice set of old school wheels might also want to take a look at what they stock…

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DIY Fuel Surge Tank

Anyone converting a car from a carburettor to fuel injection (EFI) might well find the need for an surge tank to prevent fuel starvation when running at a low fuel level or under hard cornering. Stock fuel tanks in older cars don’t have any kind of in built design to prevent this situation other than simple baffles, but how does it occur and what’s so different with fuel injection? The fuel pump in a car equipped with a carburettor pumps the fuel low pressure and at a low volume from the tank to the carb. Should the fuel ever slosh away from the pickup pipe inside the tank, uncovering it and allowing air to be drawn in by the pump, the engine will happily continue running regardless, as a carburettor has its own built-in reservoir of fuel in the float chamber. By contrast, an EFI pump runs at very high pressure and the fuel is circulated to the fuel rail and back very rapidly, so should the pickup become uncovered momentarily, the pump could literally draw in so much air that it would purge all of the fuel from the entire system in seconds. Suddenly the injectors would be getting no fuel at all and the engine could even cut out. This situation is particularly risky with a turbo engine, where a sudden lean mixture condition at speed could result in serious engine damage. So having established that an surge tank is a good idea, how does the system work and how do we go about making and installing one? Read on….

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Sunny Kits

Last month I looked at the range of plastic kits available depicting Nissan Silvia and Gazelle series. This time it’s the turn of the Sunny range. Kits of the Nissan/Datsun Sunny series only really cover the first four incarnations, the B10, B110, B210 and B310, although the latter is quite poorly represented. Regardless of generation, the kits available are all models of the coupe variants, as seem to be the way with the majority of Japanese model kits. Most have some kind of motorisation, either by battery and electric motor or by simple clockwork mechanisms. I have had only around half a dozen different Sunny models, so unfortunately I can’t comment of the accuracy or quality on many of them, but I have compiled a run down listing most of the kits I have seen. Most are now obsolete and some will be very rare and expensive, but all of them still pop up from time to time on Japanese auction sites.

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Total Nissan Issue 2

The second, quarterly issue, of Total Nissan magazine flopped through my letterbox a few days ago and although I still haven’t read it all yet, it’s certainly looking good. For this issue, I managed a little input myself, by assisting senior contributor, Rob Marshall with a piece on the Nissan Cherry Europe and Alfa Romeo Arna. This takes a fresh look at the car, to question whether it really deserved all that bad press. The two Nissan Cherrys pictured in the article are my own Cherry GL and Europe GTi. This issue also takes a look at importing your own car from Japan, as well as a modern Japanese classic, the Nissan Figaro. Total Nissan is currently subscription only so if you fancy a one year subscription it’ll cost you £16 (£28 for overseas) and you can sign up online at

Sunny Truck Suspension

Stock ride height of my Sunny Truck is pretty high… much more so that any B110 saloon or coupe I have owned. Having been built in South Africa and intended for abuse on some of that country’s rough terrain and unmade roads, this came as no surprise, but for my purposes it was no good. It’s for street use, so I want it low. So far, the only thing I’ve done is to get the rear leaf springs de-cambered (flattened). This dropped the rear by around 50mm, but didn’t really make it low enough, so I plan to drop it further using some 50mm lowering blocks. Up front the stock suspension is like regular B110s, only sporting drum brakes in place of the more common discs. I needed a brake upgrade but nothing wild, so I figured I’d just swap in B310 Sunny front struts, which have larger discs than B110 saloons and coupes. To get it as low as I wanted but whilst retaining some ride quality, I decided to build some extra short struts….

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Budget Wheel Cleaner

As I previously mentioned, one of the 7×14 Riverge wheels I bought recently for my Violet SSS is in pretty nasty condition. In fact it kind of looks like it’s spent some time in the sea, it’s so corroded. Close inspection revealed that while there was a lot of surface corrosion, there didn’t appear to be any deep pitting, so I set about trying to clean up this nasty wheel. If all else fails I figure I could just get it wet blasted, but doing so would mean I’d have some serious work to do to polish the rim and face of the wheel back to a smooth surface, so the only alternative is to do it chemically…

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Newark Autojumble

The ancient customary meeting of gear-heads to trade rusty old parts, known as the Autojumble, has died away somewhat since the arrival of the Internet… and in particular, the creation of eBay. The major events such as Beaulieu International Autojumble are still going strong. but the smaller, regional events simply aren’t what they once were. My nearest regular event is at Newark County Showground and these days it’s probably more worthwhile attending merely to see the selection of old cars that turn up, rather than for any serious car part hunting. Last Sunday saw a good turnout despite the chilly weather. Datsun pickings in the Autojumble itself were slim, as usual, but I did score a new right hand front wing for my Blue N12 Cherry, as well as a pair of brand new Wipac halogen headlights for my Sunny truck. There were plenty of cars to gawp at in the parking area, so I snapped a fairly random selection. Of particular note was the ultra rare Fiat 133… a Spanish built Seat which was sold with Fiat badging in the UK. The curious Morris Marina with a DIY hatchback conversion is also an oddity. Photo gallery below…

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More Violet Goodies

Although I have yet to start doing any real work on my KP710 Violet SSS, the parts keep on arriving. Newest arrival, and something I’ve wanted for some time, is a pair of Japanese market rear quarter emblems. In Europe these cars always wore “Datsun 160J” emblems on the rear quarters, but I always think of them by their Japanese market name of Violet, so scoring a pair of these emblems is a real bonus.

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Pre-war Pictorial

Finally, I have managed to score a copy of a book which I have been trying to find for some time. “Pictorial History of Pre-war Datsun” is another excellent publication from Car Graphic and despite having almost entirely Japanese text, is well worth hunting down if you have an interest in very early Datsuns. The book runs to about 125 pages and is jam packed with photos , mostly black and white, with a handful in colour. The book charts the history of Datsun from its very early beginnings and shows images of some of the foreign cars that influenced its designers, as well as rare pictures of the first prototype “Datson”. There’s also a section featuring many pictures of the Grand Prix winning DOHC powered NL-75 and NL-76 race cars from 1936….

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