The Complete Guide to Classic Datsun Cars and Trucks

1968 Datsun Fairlady SR311 & SP311

During the 1960s over eighty percent of all the Datsun Fairlady sports cars built ended up in the United States. With the United States being such an important market it was only natural that Nissan should respond to the needs of the Americans, and when sweeping new mandatory vehicle safety standards were introduced in the late 1960s in the USA Nissan responded with the heavilly updated 1968 model Datsun Fairlady.
 In 1965 an American consumer rights advocate named Ralph Nader wrote a book called "Unsafe At Any Speed", which drew attention to several potentially dangerous American built cars of the early 1960s. As a result of the issues raised by Nader a bill was passed in Congress in 1966 called the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Act, which saw the mandatory inclusion of numerous safety features to all passenger cars sold in the USA. These new requirements came into effect in 1968, and the 1968 version of the Datsun Fairlady reflected Nissan's response to these new laws. Instead of having one model for the United States and another for the rest of the world, instead all Fairladys would incorporate the USA-spec modifications.
 Whilst the 1968 model Fairladys were no doubt a safer vahicle for their occupants, these modification did have a detrimental effect on the car's appearance. The new Fairlady was still a very beautiful and desirable sports car, but some of it's charm disappeared as it's ornate and beautiful interior was replaced with black plastic.
The majority of the changes occured to the interior of the car. The most noticable of these was to the dashboard. The old flat metal dash was replaced with a new moulded black plastic dash. The new dash was deformable, so that in the event of an accident the dash would absorb some of the impact if the driver's head struck the dash. The gauges were also recessed to reduce glare. Elsewhere in the cabin all the old toggle switches were replaced with big black pull-out or twist knobs. The steering wheel now had a huge black crash pad in the middle, and was connected to a collapsable steering column. The new seats were quite attractive and supportive and now incorporated a seperate headrest that attached at the top of the seat, rather than the questionable type used on the 1967 1/2 cars that attached to the back of the seat. The headrests were fitted to the USA cars, but were optional in most other countries.
On the outside of the car the most obvious change was to the windscreen, which was now about 2 inches taller than the previous cars. As a result of this these cars are generally refered to as High Screen cars, and the earlier ones were known as Low Screens. The change of height was bought about by the safety requirement that the wipers swept a larger percentage of the screen than the earlier Low Screen cars were capable of doing. This change had the added bonus of making the cars more appealing to tall drivers, as anyone over six feet tall struggled to see under the windscreen frame of a Low Screen car. This was an obvious bonus for the traditionally lanky Americans. The design of the windscreen frame also changed. The Low Screen cars had a frame that detached from the car, while the new High Screen frame was now an intergral part of the body. The inside of the frame featured a deformable crash pad of a similar material as the new dash. The windscreen frame is now painted the same colour as the body.
 There were changes to the doors of the car at this time, with the 1968 cars now having lift-up external door handles instead of the push-button type on the early cars. The quarter glass windows now no longer open. There were some subtle changes to the rear bumper and the number plate recess at the back of the car, and there was also a new soft top design. All the external trim remained largely unchanged, and the car used the same badges as the previous model with Fairlady badges back and sides with either a 1600 or 2000 badge underneath. Most export cars had Datsun badges instead of Fairlady badges. The bonnet badge says Datsun in individual letters.
Mechanically the cars were the same, with the SR311 version using the 1982cc 150hp U20 engine and the SP311 using the 1595cc 96hp R engine. Cars sold in the United States were fitted with a down-spec version of the U20 engine, which instead of having the dual throat Mikuni Solex carburettors had a pair of single throat Hitachi carburettors. This engine produced only 135hp, yet even in this de-tuned form still outperformed most of the opposition.
 In 1969 some minor changes happened. The previous models were witted with a worm and pin style steering box, but in 1969 the car was fitted with a new recirculating ball steering box. In 1970 some other changes occured, most noticable was to the front indicators, which now no longer have a chrome ring around them and are instead all plastic.
The High Screen SP311 and SR311 was in production from October 1967 until April 1970. The Fairlady was to be Nissan's last true sports car. Nissan instead switched to building performance coupes, which turned out to be an astute decission as the Datsun Fairlady Z coupes which followed the sports cars sold in massive numbers. The S30 series Datsun Fairlady Z (240Z) went into production in October 1969, meaning that the Fairlady and Fairlady Z were both in production at the same time for about half a year until sports car production finally ended.

A sales brochure for the 1969 Datsun Fairlady SR311 and SP311
A sales brochure for the 1968 Datsun Fairlady SP311
A sales brochure for the 1968 Datsun Fairlady SR311
1968 Datsun Fairlady SR311 Specifications 
Length - 3955mm   
Width - 1495mm   
Height - 1325mm   
Wheelbase - 2280mm   
Weight - 950kg   
Top speed - 200kph 

Transmission - 5 speed Floor change 

 Engine Specifications 
Model - U20 
OHC 4 Cylinder  
Capacity - 1982cc   
Bore & Stroke - 87x83mm  
Power - 150hp@5000rpm 
Torque - 131ft/lb@3600rpm 
Compression - 9.5 : 1 
Carburettors - twin dual throat side draught Mikuni Solex 44PHH 

Final Drive - 3.7 : 1

Engine Specifications 
Model - R 
OHV 4 Cylinder  
Capacity - 1595cc   
Bore & Stroke - 87x66mm  
Power - 96hp@5000rpm 
Torque - 103ft/lb@3600rpm 
Compression - 9.0 : 1 
Carburettors - twin single throat side draught Hitachi 38HJB 

Final Drive - 3.889 : 1


Model Variations
Datsun Fairlady SP311 
The SP311 version featured the 96hp 1595cc R engine. Grille has three wide horizontal bars and no emblem.
Datsun Fairlady SR311 
The SR311 version featured the 150hp 1982cc U20 engine. Grille has a large D emblem in the middle.
1968 Datsun Fairlady 
The 1968 models have satin finished headlight trims, later High Screen cars have all chrome headlight trims.
1969 Datsun Fairlady SR311 
The 1969 Fairladys have a recirculating ball type steering box rather than a worm and pin style.
1970 Datsun Fairlady SR311 
The 1970 version had front indicators that were all plastic and no longer had a chrome ring around them. Truly horrific things happened to the USA-spec cars. These cars were fitted with huge ugly chunky side marker lights, and even worse, at the back the small round reflector above the tail lights was removed and replaced with a big roung reflector that sat beside the stop light, which totally destroyed the look of the back of the car.
Datsun Fairlady Z S30 
The Fairlady sports cars were replaced by the Z series coupes.

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