Choose a Cherry

Generally, road tests and write ups on 1970s Datsuns are quite complimentary about their subjects, but not always. Car Mechanics magazine seemed less than impressed with the F10 model, Datsun 100A FII estate, when they tried it out in this short test from December 1977. To be fair, a lot of what they say is quite true. F10 estates have very little sound damping and thus are horribly noisy. The seats really are truly dreadful and the controls are indeed a bit of a mess and yet… I’ve owned two estates in the past and to this day rate them as one of the most fun Datsuns I’ve driven. The go-kart handling of the estate, thanks to its rudimentary leaf spring rear axle, makes it awesome fun, especially when equipped with a little more go than the stock A10 engine can provide (I highly recommend an A14 conversion!) It’s also a useful load carrier which was unerringly reliable. Even with all of its many failings, I wish I still owned an F10 estate.

The Lost Ones

The first wave of Datsuns arrived in the UK during 1968, with the entire model line up consisting of just four models, the 510 Bluebird, B10 Sunny and 130 Cedric… with the C30 Laurel arriving shortly after. These models all sold in tiny numbers, so you would naturally expect these early Datsuns to be the ones to have disappeared entirely. Yet this is not so. Though extremely rare, I know of at least one example of each of these. The same applies to the next generation of each model, even though the range expanded to include a variety of body styles such as coupes and estates. Later models have sometimes not fared so well…

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This French Datsun brochure is a slightly unusual one because, apart from it’s diminutive size at just 15cm by 7cm, it also has lovely illustrations of the cars rather than the usual photographs. Interestingly, in ’76 the Datsun E10 Cherry was still available in both 2 and 4 door form alongside the newer F10 Cherry models, although the latter seems to have dropped the “Cherry” name. Another thing I noticed is that the 710 only appears as an 160J SSS hardtop… were there no 710 saloons in France?! Click through to have a look…

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RWD A14 into FWD F10

Here in the UK our F10s are cursed with having a mere 988cc to pull them along (unless you own the “big block” 1171cc coupe). Why Datsun decided that Europe only needed an A10 when the US got A14s I cannot begin to imagine. Maybe smog gear on US spec cars require the extra capacity to make up for the power loss?

My daily work horse is an F10 wagon (because nobody will steal it), which I decided was just way too slow, especially when loaded up with engines (no, I’m not joking), so I decided to fit an A12 for a bit more go. But what I really wanted was an A14. The only source for a proper front wheel drive A14 was an N10 Cherry coupe (sold as a 310 in the US), which aren’t exactly common, so I figured I’d try a RWD engine from a B310 Sunny (that’s a 210 in the US).

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F10 Day

No, it’s not a new national holiday, but I did enjoy a day of F10 destruction with my buddy Jon, when I helped him strip two of the saddest looking F10s I have ever seen. Jon acquired these two, a sedan and a coupe for free (not that anybody would actually part with any money for them), as he figured there were still many useful parts to be had. And he was right. The coupe had been in a very hard front end smash, which had actually trapped the engine, making removal somewhat difficult, but using a length of chain and my Datsun 910, we quickly had the front end pulled out. The sedan had also been wrecked and was incredibly rusty, so no usable body panels were saved, but it did provide an engine and transmission and numerous other mechanical parts. Datsun parts are getting too rare now to let even sad wrecks like these pass you by. More pics below…

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