Jeffrey, I feel your pain. I had a used Datsun 510 for a short time. A friend of mine had a 240Z. They were fun cars and got better gas mileage than the 1970 Olds Delta 88 my father wanted to give me ("Just give me $25."). On the other hand I had different problems than you did, but there we lots of problems. They were also pretty fragile.
What really struck me was an article I saw a short while back in a newspaper talking about the return of the Datsun brand. Nissan owns Datsun. You will notice that no Datsuns are sold anymore. In this newspaper article they claim that Nissan dropped the Datsun brand to unify their brand image. That is bunk! They did it becuause of the quality problems the cars had, including a very bad problem with rust. The Z car had a special problem with rust on the frame where the differentiall was attached.
It seems that they are bringing back the Datsun brand for inexpensive cars to be sold in developing country markets. That is appropriate. I think they would have touble with it here.
The "Datsun" brand name has been gone off US markets for 25 years or so, right-? I remember when the "Z" cars (everyone's secret yearning) were the Datsun 240Z, the 280Z, and then suddenly the "Nissan" 300Z. My mind puts that roughly about 1985. But it's all a blurrrrr,,,,,
You're right about the Datsun brand name, naperlou. There was good reason for putting that behind them. It's amazing how much vehicle reliability has improved in the last 30 years -- not only at Nissan, but for all automakers. Tales like these are a lot less frequent these days.
naperlou, Thanks for your understanding of the Datsun Pain. If I were Nissan, I wouldn't use the Datsun name for anything, even low cost entry markets, for maybe another 50 years. The people who decided to do that never owned one like either of us did.
Charles, spot on observation that cars have gotten so much better over the last 30 years. We have three cars in our family now, and none of them hardly ever need anything but oil changes and tires. We have a total of 19 "car-years" of ownership between the three cars and have not been stranded or had major expensive failures in any of them.
These are the very reasons that my dad made sure my first car was American made. Not that there weren't problems at the time, but they weren't anything like this. Things have sure changed on both the US and import side. (Including the fact that the "imports" are made in the US).
I had a new Mustang in the mid-eighties, which wasn't the best time for American car manufacturers. The car began to run oddly, stumbling and sometimes surging. Several times the car was sent in for warranty service, and I became suspicious of the trouble shooting process since so many electronic components were being replaced, yet the problem continued. This was in the early years of under the hood electronics and mechanics were frequently replacing anything with a cable harness in the hopes of finding the problem.
After bringing the car home with a drive that still had the same symptom I opened the hood to see what was being replaced and why. To my horror I found that a cable harness had been burned, but that the fire was not recent. The wire to the choke heater had burned and melted several wires together along with some plastic vacuum lines that were in the same bundle. The entire cable harness, a little more than 2 feet in length, was now a melted chunk of plastic. Despite that the vehicle was only a month old I performed the repairs myself because I was afraid that the mechanics would just twist new wires together and roll it all up with some electrical tape.
Not too surprisingly, now that the engine management system could receive the correct signals and control combustion again, the car began to run properly without any new components.
I spent the late 70s and 80s helping my father do freelance automotive work (in addition to his day job), and got a worm's-eye view of the utterly shameful products Detroit was putting out during that period (and I say that as a Detroit native). And the UAW and Big Three wonder why there's an entire generation out there that still equates "imports" with "quality." I remember my father buying his first-ever import because, after a year of shopping the dealerships, he couldn't find any American-made car in his price range that he was willing to trust. And this was a man who'd spent his life doing all his own car maintenance!
My first car was a 1984 Ford LTD station wagon (bought from my mother for $1). It was gently used and got good maintenance, but by 120,000 miles the engine was a complete writeoff. My father and I ended up spending months rebuilding it from the block up, but after that the body started falling apart. And don't even get me started on the fuel pump idiocy....
Of course, my sister (whose husband is a Ford employee) just last year had to get rid of their Ford Expedition well before it hit the 100,000 mile mark because it was a complete lemon (including blowing a spark plug right out of the head while they were towing their camper), and no amount of repairs ever got rid of all the problems. OTOH, we both now drive crew-cab F150s which (knock on wood) seem to be holding up nicely. But Ford always did seem to pay extra attention to protecting the F150 brand.
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