Alvin wrote: ↑Wed Jan 16, 2019 12:18 amThis was James Doh's styling analysis from 1999. He is a roadster owner and artist. To me, captures the Datsun Roadster perfectly and is probably shared by most
The production Datsun Roadster
The overall impression when one sees the car is of instant friendship. The large headlamps and "smiling" grille warm you to the car instantly. The styling is not the pure form studies of the Italian 'verts but falls in well with the German, and English cars of the same era. With more detailing and body surface transitions than either, the Datsun makes its own strong statement.
The strongest form theme is the strong taper to the rear (back in vouge with the Buick Riviera, EV1 and somewhat the J30). Most apparent and undisguised in rear view, the sharp cut kamm tail further define the rear corners of the car; visibly narrower than the mid section. The tailfins keep a broad rear quarter panel surface, keeping the rear from looking too fragile. Without the fins, the rear would resolve much like the Alfa Romeo Spyder/ Giulietta with a continuous rounded shoulder to the boattail of the original, or kamm rear of the later Spyders.
The front and rear are both its strongest visual statement and weakest area
Both ends of the car have strong easily identifiable elements that, taken as a whole, give a strong and unforgettable impression. The large lamps and happy front end makes everyone smile. The four bullet taillights and two reflectors continue the shapes of the front lamps, but while the headlights are recessed (visually pushed in by the air), the taillights are extruded from the body (metaphor of rocket exhaust). These subtle cues accentuate the short front overhang and long tail; a nice touch.
At the same time, the large lamps and multitude of horizontal elements conspire to narrow the front end (horizontal elements usually give the effect of widening the car, but in this case all the horizontal shapes stay inbetween the headlights creating a stacked upright effect). The rear end is finicky. Many small details (trunklid lip, emblems, gas cap, lights) compete for the small amount of real estate on the kamm section of the tail.
Upon close inspection, the Datsun delights with its details. The chrome bodyside trim was necessary to hide the manufacture of seperate panels. The 60's Honda S800 did the same thing with a chrome strip running the length of the car at the top of the fenders. The placement on the Datsun is at the ideal horizion line reflection, becoming the highlight where the sun would reflect at "magic hour".
If you look at the car in plan view, you will notice something very crucial; continuity. See the subtle bonelines in the front fenders? They offset the large (in comparison) rear fender fins. The ridge running the center of the hood is still there on the trunklid. The hood scoop is essentially a smaller form raised off the main one and the small lip at the end of the trunklid is that, too (notice the opposing emphasis; subtle front fenders to large rear, and large scoop to subtle rear). Of course, the hood crease and kamm tail and lights are consistent front to rear.
There is an overall harmony and sophistication to the design that goes beyond its surface charm to be sure. It is one of those cars that discoveries are made while washing it!
The Datsun has been compared to and dismissed as a copy of the MGB. I think the confusion lies in the casual observer's impression both cars exude, namely a 60's definition of open air motoring and the common site of British 'verts. In fact, the Datsun was introduced before the MGB so claims of imitation are invalid.
The closest redesign ot the Fairlady roadster may have been Nissan's 'kei' car, the Figaro. Although much smaller and not a full convertible, it nonetheless carries an unmistakable lineage with the roadster. Starting from the front, it has a smoothly rounded yet upright nose that is very similar to the Datsun. It frames two headlamps and two small signal lights, as the Datsun does. The chrome light trim comes to a point (backwards, this time). It is interesting to note the chrome trim treatment that is identical to the Honda S800.
The same four, chrome bezeled taillights (reflectors are not needed, as the taillights are larger and modern lenses have reflectors intergrated into the surface), but inverted into the body this time. It carries the simple signature blade bumpers, too. The interior mimics the early (and best) dashboards with a dark padded vinyl surround and light grey surface.
Immensely popular at its introduction circa 1991, the Figaro was on a wave of retro-mini cars from Nissan that included the Chapeau, Saurus, and S-Cargo. Compared to everything from a 50's Chevy to a 60's Mercedes, I believe Nissan drew on our forgotten charmer for its inspiration. The Figaro, Nissan's quietly forgotten son- blown up 20% larger may have been the Fairlady we were looking for.
It is nice to see the comparisons of old and new (see "then and now" above), and how designers stay true to the original concept and design. It is a testament that things were really done right and on track back then. Honda paid homage to the S800 with the mid-engine Beat (also a 'kei' car), the Miata is a dead ringer for a modern Elan and I think Nissan should follow suit, don't you? Incidentally, my favorite modified is the Rose Auto Fairlady on Gordon Glasgow's site. A footnote: The MGF was intended to be a Honda and the influence is very obvious. It is basically an enlarged Honda Beat and rear end is an Acura Legend coupe in miniature; sweet justice for Japanese cars dismissed as copies of the Brits!
Well said ! Well said