If you own a classic car, you will have probably experienced it at some point: Parts being listed as “NLA” – No Longer Available. Here’s at least a glimmer of hope for some Datsun owners.
We have probably all heard horror stories of large stocks or even complete warehouses of classic car spare parts being destroyed at the scrapyard. It usually happens in the intermediate years between when a car is current – or at least many of them are still in actual service on the roads – and many years later when the same cars finally become recognised as rare, lovable and/or genuine enthusiast’s cars.
As usual, many exotics get their large share of column space in the press when pundits and bar room experts alike tell the horror stories of how the “NLA” distributor caps for Lamborghini Espadas can leave a car stricken for years, or how private enthusiasts must go to great lengths and ever greater expense to have gear wheels remanufactured for their Ferrari BB to save it from a much too early retirement.
But my theory is that more mundane cars are actually in even greater danger of becoming extinct due to a lack of spare parts: A fine Lamborghini or Ferrari will always have a following, and as the cars as well as many spare parts are very expensive, it will be relatively more sensible to solve the situation with remanufacturing new parts. If on the contrary the car in question happens to be something like one-of-twenty surviving Datsuns – well, then the market for remanufacturing is not that interesting to enter. Would a 120Y-owner be prepared to pay 800 Euro for a distributor cap? I doubt it.
Datsun themselves scrapped or sold off their surplus or stale spare parts for their early models many years ago here in Denmark. And probably all around much of the world too. They were not alone in this, of course, as it happened for even the best of marques: When the turnover became too low to make money, they reacted to it – little knowing, that many, many years later their products would be kept running by private and very enthusiastic initiatives all over the world who would now require those spare parts.
So where are they now? Well, some were quite literally scrapped never to be seen again. Others were sold off, some in such large and comprehensive numbers that they allowed new specialist businesses to be formed around them. Probably not without financial challenges in the beginning, but then hopefully managing much better in these later years where our hobby continues to grow. Others were also sold off only to sort of disappear under the radar. Were they purchased out of some sort of misunderstood enthusiasm? Because they were so cheap it seemed stupid not to buy them? Or because an enthusiast needed some of it and then just stored the rest?
Whatever the reason, it does happen from time to time that some of these lost spare parts resurface again many years later. It’s another horror story that they are then often found in a sad state as many types of spare parts must be stored properly. But in the best stories they appear in a miraculously fine state – as if someone had only just lifted them off the original warehouse shelf. And that is precisely what we appear to have found here in Denmark over Easter.
In a short ad on Facebook, a seller stated that he was in possession of around 4,000 items of the oldest Danish Datsun/Nissan spare parts stock. A very wide mix from small clips and emblems up to complete body panels, exhausts, bumpers and the like. The photos in the ad showed parts in what seems to be pristine condition. To use another abbreviation: NOS – New Old Stock. And in perfect new condition too.
Now I’ve never owned an older Nissan, not to speak of an even older Datsun. But I would really like to. Much stranger though was the urge I felt to actually acquire this huge stock of spare parts myself – maybe even instead of a car. Does that make sense? Well, the price would apparantly be around the same: The 40,000 Danish Kroner mentioned in the ad equates to 5,300 Euro – which to me sounds like a LOT of spare parts for not a lot of money. Now if 3,900 of the 4,000 parts are a variety of small clips you might not be in for a really brilliant deal – but still, the stock does not need to include many bumpers, rear lights, front wings or the like, for this to be at least a viable proposition.
It’s probably not enough to start your own Datsun specialist company around, but I guess you could at least become a quite popular Ebay’er for many years to come. And I do think the important thing here is that these parts must get to market: They were hidden away for so many years, and right now there are no doubt several people out there restoring a proper classic Datsun who are desperate to get that clip, badge or window trim. We need to help!
Unfortunately, this lot is up for sale at a less than ideal time for me to acquire it (more on that later), so instead I thought I’d mention it here for all of our ViaRETRO readers: Maybe you are restoring a Datsun? Know someone who is? Several, perhaps? Or you know that specialist who could put it all to good use? Then by all means, point them towards this ad on Facebook: Datsun samling.
Yes, it’s in Danish. But surely that’s better than Japanese, isn’t it? If you want them you’ll find a solution. That’s what Datsuns are all about.
Photos of spare parts: From the ad