The 1960 Datsun Fairlady SPL212 at first looks to be almost identical
to the previous Datsun S211 sports car, but looks can be deceiving.
While it may look the same as it's predecessor, the SPL212
is a completely new car. The most striking change from the previous model
is the fact that the new SPL212 has an all steel body, whereas the S211
was all fibreglass. The body of the S211 had actually been built by a seperate
company, called Tonouchi Industrial, but for the SPL212 construction was
to be done by a company called Nissan Shatai Co. Ltd., who were a company
partially owned by the Nissan Motor Company. Nissan Shatai was actually
the company that built the majority of Nissan's truck and bus models, which
probably goes some way towards explaining why the SPL212 was based on the
chassis and mechanicals of the Datsun 223 truck.
The S211 was based on the 211 sedan, and shared it's reverse Elliot I beam
front suspension. The SPL212 instead had the independant front torsion
bar system from the truck. Whilst this was certainly an improvement, it
was still far from being ideal for a sports car. The chassis for the sports
car was little more than a shortened truck one. The choice of running gear
was a puzzling one, because at the same time the SPL212 went on sale Nissan
had just released the all new 310 series Datsun Bluebird sedan, which had
a much more modern double wishbone independant front suspension system,
which would be used in the next Fairlady, the SP310.
The SPL212 was the first car to wear the Fairlady badge, a name that 50
years later is still in use today. Badging in the S211 said Datsun 1000
on the sides and at the rear, for the SPL212 there were Fairlady badges
on the sides, above the side strip, and the same Datsun 1200 badge that
was used on the 223 truck was fitted to the boot lid. The badge on the
front of the car is much slimmer than the one on the S211, and is the same
badge that was used on the later SP310 Fairlady.
The engine was the same as the one used in the 310 Bluebird
sedan and the 222 truck, which was the 1189cc OHV engine which produced
48hp. It was fitted with a single throat down draught Hitachi carburetor
with an oil bath type air cleaner.
The SPL212 had a different dashboard than the S211, with two large
dials placed directly in front of the driver.
The one really odd thing about this car is that it was an export only vehicle.
The SPL212, and the later SPL213 were only ever built in left hand drive,
and were only ever offered for sale in the United States. None of these
cars were sold in Japan.
The SPL212 went into production in January 1960 and was built
until 1961, when it was replaced by the more powerful SPL213 model. A total
of 228 SPL212s were built.
The easiest way to tell the difference between a Datsun
S221 and a Fairlady SPL212 is to look at the shape of the bottom of the
Datsun Fairlady SPL212 Specifications
Length - 4025mm
Width - 1475mm
Height - 1380mm
Wheelbase - 2220mm
Weight - 890kg
Top speed - 132kph
Transmission - Floor change
Model - E
OHV 4 Cylinder
Capacity - 1189cc
Bore & Stroke 73x71mm
Power - 48hp@4800rpm
Torque- 60ft/lb @2400rpm
Compression - 7.5 : 1
Carburettor - Hitachi VAA-28-1B
28mm single throat downdraught
Final drive - 4.625 : 1