WHY IT’S RAD!
The year is 1983, and you want a convertible. Your options are extremely limited. Many manufacturers stopped offering drop-tops years ago. You could get a Mustang or a Lebaron or a Mercedes, but what about something more unique? Well, in that case, the sensible thing to do is to call up a coachbuilder like American Custom Coachworks, Ltd. in Beverly Hills to cut the roof off of your Datsun 200SX.
From the collection of the self-described Junkman, which is as prolific as it is eclectic, Rad For Sale is proud to offer to the world this extreme rarity of the early 1980s. This era of Datsun has all but disappeared from U.S. roads, and 200SX is a unique beast in and of itself, with few remaining on the road today. These ACC Roadsters only numbered in the dozens when new, and their numbers have dwindled to something which could be counted on a single hand in 2021.
Perhaps a harbinger of a brighter future for enthusiasts—of the rad era ahead—the S110-generation 200SX was a bright light at the end of the 1970s malaise era. A personal luxury coupe with a sporty flair, the 200SX was a thoroughly mainstream offering from Datsun from 1979 to 1983. It’s early RADwood Era, but it’s a certified rad car nonetheless.
As a facelifted model, this 1983 model received a 2.2-liter Z22E engine, which produced 103 carbureted horsepower brand new. That engine is effectively Nissan’s long-serving L20 bottom end with a trick new fuel-efficient cylinder head. The 83 model years also received a more robust H190 rear axle. As the final year of S110 production, this example is the best of the breed. This is made all the more exciting as the car was fitted from the factory with a 5-speed manual transmission, which made the best use of each horsepower. A welcome upgrade over an S110 with the 3-speed automatic.
Car and Driver compared it quite favorably with the Mustang Cobra, Honda Prelude, and Dodge Challenger of its day. Patrick Bedard once called this car’s design a “regular art-center masterpiece” which is certainly high praise. This might have been the first truly exciting new car from the Datsun brand since the iconic 240Z.
The conversion to convertible only enhances its ability to serve as a lovely weekend cruiser with at least as much sense of occasion as any other car can muster. As a drop-top it is certainly a much more fetching design, working cohesively into the already beautiful angular geometric sheetmetal layout.
This example is largely preserved and original. The preserved black over silver factory two-tone paint shows blemishes consistent with age and also some clear coat peeling and corrosion to badges. The vinyl convertible top has a few small holes shown in photos. The seller reports the motor has been disconnected (although still functions) and the top is easy to open and close manually. The rear window is intact but cloudy. Factory 14” alloy wheels present well but do show some curbing.
The interior appears tidy with the grey corduroy-like seats in very good condition, with only a split in the fabric of the passenger headrest. Factory Datsun steering wheel and shift knob present well. The dash is cracked just above the instrument cluster. The original AM/FM radio, equalizer and tape deck remain.
And we would be remiss if we didn’t mention that this car features the iconic phonographic warning voice box to tell you such things as “Left door open” or “Fuel level is low” which is something all vintage Japanese car enthusiasts absolutely must experience at least once in their life. The seller states the voice still operates but speaks very slowly. There is a brake light out warning light illuminated but brake lights appear to work. Door ajar warning light stays on when doors are closed.
This example was owned by automotive icon Martin Swig in San Francisco from 2007 until 2013, when it was then purchased and added to the unique collection of the seller in Akron, Ohio.
The seller reports this Datsun starts and runs well and has just completed an oil service prior to the auction. The odometer shows just 67k miles from new.
This would be a strong contender for Raddest Import at any Radwood show, and we’d be happy to feature such a rarity in the Radwood Royalty section. Chances are you’ve never seen one of these, and you aren’t likely to ever see another one.
This Datsun 200SX convertible is offered without reserve.
Factory authorized convertible conversion done in period by American Custom Coachworks, Ltd. of Beverly Hills
2.2-liter Z22E 4-cylinder engine, RWD
5-speed manual transmission
Factory AM/FM, cassette player and equalizer
Preserved survivor with 67k original miles
Paint shows some blemishes including some peeling clear coat
Convertible top has two small holes and cloudy rear window
One dash crack and a small split in passenger headrest
Starts, runs and drives well. Recent oil service