Datsun Sports S211 is First Produced

The Datsun Sports (called Fairlady in the home market), was a series of roadsters produced by Nissan in the 1960s.

The series was a predecessor to the Z-car in the Fairlady line, and offered an inexpensive alternative to the British MG and Triumph sports cars. The line began with the 1959 "S211" and continued through 1970 with the "SP311" and "SR311" line.

The first Datsun Sports model was the 1959 S211. It used a 988 cc C-series straight-4 producing 37 PS (27 kW; 36 hp). Only 20 examples were built. It was designed by Yuichi Ohta, who had previously designed the Datsun DC-3 and the prototype to the S211, the A80X. Both the A80X and S211 featured fiberglass bodywork.

Nissan Motor Corporation wasn’t officially organized until 1934, though its origins go all the way back to 1911. Its earliest car, the 1914 DAT, eventually led to the Datson and, in 1934, the name Datsun. The firm’s late-Thirties models were mostly scaled-down British and American designs (including a true “joint-venture” car patterned on the American Graham Crusader), while reworked British Austin A40s, built under license, led a halting recovery in the early postwar years. Amazingly, Nissan didn’t get around to a new postwar design of its own until 1958, the Datsun Bluebird sedan.

But bigger and better things weren’t long in coming. The very next year brought a new open two-seater, catering to a traditional Japanese fondness for such cars. Designated S211, it replaced the original Datsun Sports that had been built in small numbers for domestic sale since 1952.

It was also the first Datsun to bear the poetic Fairlady name that’s still in use today, though the car itself was nothing to write sonnets about. Carrying a 60-horsepower 1189-cc four, it was sized like an Austin-Healey Sprite yet wasn’t as peppy or agile. Worse, it tried to look like a big Healey. Somehow, production continued through 1963.

The S211 had a 988cc 37hp 4cyl. C series engine. The S211 is an extremely rare car, with a total of only 20 ever built. It is visually similar to the Fairlady SP212. The two most obvious differences are that the S211's doors have a curve on the lower front corner, the SP212's door comes to a 90 degree right angle. Also the SP212 has a Fairlady badge on the front guard, the S211 has a small emblem that is incorporated into the stainless steel moulding on the side of the car. There were also slight differences in the windscreen frame and interior trim.