Datsun released its 2 liter roadster in 1967 as the Datsun Sports 2000 with an official model series identification of SR311 for right hand drive cars and SRL311
for left hand drive cars. In common usage, "Sports" has dropped out of the car's name and the SRL311 is simply referred to as the Datsun 2000. Nissan has commonly named its flagship sports car Fairlady in the homemarket and the SR311 is known commonly there as the Fairlady 2000.
The Datsun 2000 was introduced March 15, 1967 with production of the first model year running through November 1967. As the car was introduced mid-year these cars are often referred to by collectors as the 67.5 2000 or 67 1/2 2000. Production went on through 1970 with a total production of about 15,000 2 liter roadsters.
It is generally thought that Nissan limited production to 1000 cars for the 1967 model year with serial numbers SRL311-00001 through SRL311-01000 being authorized by the factory. It has been speculated that up to 200 of these 1967 cars were RHD SR311's. Neko's Fairlady Volume 2 would seem to indicate production of 1000 SRL311's and 1000 SR311's for a total production of 2000 2 liter cars for 1967. Record keeping was not a priority in those days so there is some debate on these matters. Adding to this confusion, some SRL311's and SR311's have been known to share the same chassis number.
A number of factors make the 1967 2000 highly desirable, the most notable being Nissan's limited production of under 1000 cars in its introductory model year. The 1967 2000 has a number of significant design features that distinguish it from later 2000's, the most notable distinction being the only 2000 to share the charm and vintage styling of the earlier low windshield and "flat dash" roadsters. In addition, the 1967 2000 was the only model year 2000 unencumbered by emission control regulations that were implemented in 1968. It was also the only year that a special 150hp competition kit with Solex carburetors was available as a factory option in the U.S.
As 1967 was the only model year that
the 150hp Competition set-up was offered as a factory option in the U.S, "original solex" cars are by their very nature extremely rare and sought after. The Competition upgrade consisted of dual Mikuni/Solex carburetors, a Solex Camshaft (also known as the "B" cam) and a competition 7qt finned aluminum oil pan for better cooling.
"Original solex" is a matter of some
debate. Some feel that the car must have come directly from the factory that way. Others feel that dealer installed upgrades performed before the car was delivered to the buyer also qualify as orginal solex. While some 150hp ID tags were printed and issued in Canada and Australia, there is no evidence that any U.S. market cars ever came from the factory with these, so they are of no help in establishing a U.S. car as original solex.
Short of finding the original owner
or obtaining the original window sticker, there is no way to document a '67 SRL311 as being original solex. It is my opinion that all '67 SRL311's can be considered equally rare and valuable and should be evaluated on other more important factors including whether the car is numbers matching.
Unlike collectable American cars with
ranges of serial numbers assigned for heads, blocks, alternators, and other mechanical parts, record keeping was not a priority for the Nissan Corporation which was just trying to establish a foothold in the U.S. market. For the most part, numbers matching has not been a siginificant issue for roadster collectors. Roadsters sent outside the Japanese home market, however, have ID plates stamped with "Engine No." which corresponds with a matching stamp on the block. A 1967 SRL311 with matching block number would be considered "numbers matching" and would command a premium over a car with a non-matching or unstamped replacement block. Right hand drive cars, SR311's manufactured for the Japanese home market did not have Engine No. stamped on the ID
plate so numbers matching on these cars is not an issue in their collectability.
|A paint color code was stamped on a label under the hood to the left of the ID plate. If the label is missing as it often is, your best bet is checking under the carpet on the transmission tunnel or on the inside of the firewall. Reproduction color labels are available from a number of vendors for a reasonable price. 67 2000's were known to be available in the seven colors shown in the chart on the right with optional red vinyl seats, carpets, and door panels available on white and black cars.
Many late 67 1600's have been converted to the 2000 specification with U20 engines, 5 speeds, 2000 grills and emblems. While this effectively upgrades the car to the identical appearance and performance of a 67 2000, the car will never be worth as much as a genuine 67 SRL311. While I have not witnessed any misrepresentations first hand, I have heard stories of such cons to have taken place.
The most important thing to make sure of is that the chassis number on the ID plate matches the engraved frame number and that they both read SRL311 and not SPL311 which was the 1600 model designation. The ID number for a 1967 2000 will be under 1000 and not in the 11000-17000 range of the 67 1600's. U20 engine numbers are also usually in a range 300-600 numbers higher than the VIN so it's usually possible to spot a problem.
Other telltale signs are a 120 mph speedometer and 7000 rpm tachometer that came with the 1600 instead of the correct 160 mph speedo and 8000 rpm tach.
1967 SRL311's have the 8000 rpm tach and 160 mph speedometer
The year 1968 brought a number of
significant changes to the Datsun 2000 and 1600 many due to stricter DOT and EPA regulations enacted that year.
Windshield height raised 2 inches
A padded "safety" dash with recessed gauges and push/pull switches replaced the vintage flat metal dash and toggle switches
Windshield mounted rear view mirror replaced dash mounted mirror
Lift up door handles replaced push button handles
Completely new body panels, floor, and cowl
Rear restyled with indent around license plate
Fuse boxed moved from under hood to glove compartment
The windshield was raised to meet a DOT requirement for the area swept by the wipers. The rule was set without regard to the size of the vehicle, so small cars with small windshields could not pass without modification. Nissan raised the height of the windshield; British Leyland switched from 2 wipers to 3 wipers on the MGB. The larger size of US customers and their complaints about head clearance was also undoubtably a consideration in the decision to raise the windshield.
The dash was changed primarily to meet the DOT requirement for passenger protection. Some US cars simply added a plastic pad to the metal dash. Toggle switches were just about eliminated by this particular rule.
The door handle change was made because of another DOT rule. It seems that pedestrians were being injured in low speed accidents by the protruding door handles. The rule forced all manufactures to recess the door handles.
SRL311-00004 is thought to be the oldest known Datsun 2000 in existence. It was a factory-backed "prototype" race car driven by Duane Feurheim in 1967 and then owned and raced by Jack Scoville in 1968-70. The car is currently owned by Bob Klemme of California.
Special thanks to Rick Chianese who contributed to this article.