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Junkyard Gem: 1974 Datsun B210 Fastback

Murilee Martin

The third-generation Nissan Sunny was sold in the United States for the 1974 through 1978 model years, badged as a Datsun B210 (in Europe, it was called the Datsun 120Y). Renowned for its fuel efficiency and cheap price tag, the B210 rusted to nothingness in the Midwest and Northeast, but plenty of these cars saw daily service in California well into our current century. Here's one that held out until age 43 before appearing in this San Francisco Bay Area self-service wrecking yard.

No complicated overhead cams here! The pushrod A13 straight-four engine displaced 1,288 cubic centimeters and generated 75 horsepower. This was a lot more power than the 52-horse Honda Civic had in 1974, but the Civic was several hundred pounds lighter.

According to the much-faded door signs, this car was used by a computer-repair business (probably in the 1980s).

Here's a bit of obscure political history: a 1992-vintage Clinton/Gore Rapid Response Team sticker, from the era of the Gennifer Flowers scandal.

The era of the rear-wheel-drive econobox ended in the United States by the early 1980s (with the exception of such cars as the Toyota Starlet and Chevrolet Chevette), but the B210 hatchback set the standard for affordable and vaguely sporty-looking transportation appliances during its heyday.

"At Datsun we are driven to deliver more years per car."