As I was strolling around the Golden Week Kyusha Festival a couple weekends back, I wasn’t surprised to see a modified Datsun 2000 Roadster in attendance. Perhaps more than any other model, the original Fairlady is the epitome of an old Japanese sports car.
The DNA of the Fairlady (or Sports) 1600 and 2000 Roadsters goes back over six decades to the Fairlady 1000, originally designed by Yuichi Ohta in the late ’50s. The S211 only saw production of 20 prototypes, and it wasn’t until 1960 that the Sports 1200 was imported to the US (still, less than 500 were built). By the late ’60s, the car received major updates in every category, featuring a 2.0L U20 engine good for over 130hp paired with a proper 5-speed manual. You could also opt for a Competition package which produced nearly 150hp, thanks to a reworked ‘B’ camshaft and a pair of Mikuni carbs. Weighing in at around 950kg (under 2,100lb) the car was no slouch.
While it was quick and well-sorted – even compared to a ’90s entry-level sports car (think Miata) – I’ve never really given them that much attention. They always just look a bit too small, a bit too dated.
When I saw this particular 1967.5 Roadster at the show, my initial impression was that it didn’t look dated. Instead, it looked as though it was set up to go fast, and it also looked a bit familiar at the same time. But what was this car hiding?
It turns out the car was hiding quite a lot, namely an ’98-spec SR20DE capable of roughly 180 horsepower at the crank. Remaining naturally aspirated and matching the displacement of the original late-1960s cars, the swap is a really cool and fitting addition to spice up the old chassis.
The massive-looking 16-inch Panasports tucked into the cutesy bodywork, the period trim-work in the interior paired with a Momo steering wheel, and that SR20 up front — it all works.
This is Alvin Gogineni’s Roadster, which he’s owned for nearly 20 years. The swap was completed in the early 2000s and the suspension details buttoned up more recently around 2010. All in all, it’s a Fairlady that seems to have been done right the first time around — little has changed as the years roll on since its completion.
It’s also a car that’s had the spotlight shone on it many times, but I’ve yet to see it featured on a good canyon blast.
I know Naveed is good friends with the owner, so who’d like to see that remedied?