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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 had a great model line during the Sixties and Seventies and all would today be considered classic cars. But where are they now? And not least: Where are their spare parts?

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.

Talk of the town when new – but run into the ground many years later and many have simply forgotten the small Datsuns.

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?

Try to find trim parts and the like for a cheap Datsun and it will probably be even harder than for an expensive Ferrari.

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 

 

10 Responses

  1. Tony Wawryk

    The spare parts equivalent of a barn find…and for what sounds like very reasonable money.
    There’s a serious point to be made here – as we all know, and @Anders Bilidt has reiterated, it’s the unexceptional, the cars that were (still are – I have myself been guilty of this) metaphorically and then literally written off as being of little or no value that are most at risk when it comes to lack of spare parts, and in some countries, government policy has made this problem worse.
    The UK government introduced a scrappage scheme in April 2009 to encourage replacing old cars with less polluting new ones (ironically, many of those will have been diesels, now the devil’s fuel). It ran for about a year and almost 400,000 cars were scrapped under it.
    Similar schemes had previously been introduced in Germany, France and Italy in 1999, and there is now talk about reintroducing such a scheme in the UK. It won’t be Lamborghini’s and Ferrari’s that get scrapped (although 101 Porsches and over 6,000 Mercedes did – info from the UK Government Department for Business Innovation and Skills), as there is considerable value even in a written-off Ferrari, but there is a real danger of millions of potentially useful spares going into the crusher again, which would be very bad news for our hobby, one worth £5.5billion a year in the UK (FBHVC survey 2016) alone.
    Hopefully a buyer will soon be found for this treasure trove of Datsun parts!

    Reply
  2. Dave Leadbetter

    This story makes me smile.

    In terms of undiscovered spare part hoards, I’m reminded of when British specialist Rimmer Bros heard of a stock of Rover SD1 parts left over from a failed venture to build cars in India. What they found in Chennai was way beyond their expectations; over 600 complete CKD car kits, still in crates and perfectly preserved after twenty years in storage.

    It makes you wonder what else is still hidden away.

    Reply
  3. Anders Bilidt

    A reminder that I’m lacking a classic Datsun in my garage. Hmmm… I wonder, if I bought the complete package of 4,000 spares, would I be likely to have enough to assemble my own classic Datsun from the parts…?? Perhaps a first-generation Cherry 120A Coupé please. Or a Bluebird 510 SSS Coupé.

    On a more serious note – what a fabulous collection of NOS spares! I only wish I had the space to store it all, and then the time to distribute it among needy Datsun owners. Fingers crossed it’ll be bought by someone who can do just that…

    Reply
  4. Anders Ejstrup

    Nice article, im the owner of that Datssun stock, there is very few clips and listing, many big body panels liker fenders, quarterpanels, lid and bonnets etc, there very rear panels for 120A Coupe and rear lights, but sold very quickly, keep an eye on facebook or text me,
    Regards Anders

    Reply
  5. Dave Leadbetter

    Hi Anders, thanks for commenting and good luck with your sale. I presume that’s your Corolla GTi-16 in the photograph? Great to see one, they’re virtually extinct over here.

    Reply
  6. yrhmblhst

    As the Datsun 510 is the ONLY japanese car ever made – this is objective fact and not open to debate – this cache of pieces could indeed be a ‘Eureka!’ moment! [one MIGHT stretch that list to include a 240Z if feeling charitable…maybe] Bless Mr Ejstrup for finding and saving them.

    Reply
  7. Lorne

    Hello
    Good find! Did you purchase it?
    If you did is there any 240z large body panels?

    Reply
  8. Claus Ebberfeld

    @lorne , ViaRETRO did not purchase the parts, God forbid!

    You’d need to reach out to @anders-ejstrup who is the lucky owner.

    Reply
  9. Banpei

    This story reminds me of the bargain me and my (former) business partner bought: we bought about 150 sets of Mintex (performance) brakepads. The importer of these pads in the Netherlands wanted, just like Nissan, to get rid of their surplus of parts. They offered us the 150 sets for an unbelievably low price and we were sure we would sell them off quickly with a little bit of margin.

    There were all sorts of pads in there, like Aston Martin V8, Sierra Cosworth, Alfa Romeo/Ferrari and many more exotics. However the majority of the lot were more common cars like the Rover SD1, Renault Saxo and Renault Clio. The latter probably entered our country when those cars were new and these little pocket rockets zoomed around Zandvoort circuit in their own private cup race. Even though these pads were once the best you could get on your Saxo, but probably there is only a handful of owners of the Saxo VTS and none of them would be interested doing fast laps on a circuit anymore…

    In the end I managed to get rid of most of the exotics, a large degree the SD1 stockpile (I discovered they also fit the Triumph Stag and 2000/2500) but the majority of the lot remains unsold. It would be a terrible shame to throw them in the bin, so I offered them up to Practical Classics magazine about two years ago. They never picked them up so they might meet that fate one day…

    Reply

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