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Reader test: Datsun 1200

2008-02-11 08:20

John du Preez, Bloemfontein

Nothing quite beats a classic. Sure, a BMW can go faster and a Mercedes is more reliable, but nothing can match the fun of owning your very own piece of history.

I'm talking about my Datsun 1200, and where others may be confused as to the challenge and joy of having your engine idling warmly and consistently on a cold morning, I wake up with that question in my head every morning.

Then, of course, with any modern car things get quite impersonal, whereas with my car a close bond is formed, tempered through hours and hours of tweaking and maintenance.

Fun car

But bonds of friendship aside, I can honestly say that this is one of the most fun cars in the world.

The small size and tiny turning circle make it perfect for town-driving, which is a good thing since long-haul highway driving will be unreliable, to say the least. Not to mention the great fuel economy, which is simply unreachable by more powerful, more modern standards.

The car is simply a dream to drive, provided you've given it the required love and attention. Pull-offs are nippy and handling is quick and responsive.

Remove the ABS, EBD, DTC and other abbreviated party-poopers and you have a real connection with the road, a car that can skid and lock up its brakes. But you wouldn't know as there is no way you would put your old girl through anything as gruelling as that.

Plan ahead

That "thing" you fall in love with is also the biggest challenge of owning a relic.

On hot summer days, trips need to be planned a little more carefully as deadlocked traffic could lead to overheating.

Short highway stints are also an option, but not to be repeated before the car has had a chance to rest her old legs a little.

All-in-all there is nothing that can be said to rate this car by modern standards. It is beat in all categories, except that category that is not listed, that all-important one that seems to be missing from modern cars in our modern lives.

I'm talking about a relationship, I'm taking about love. If maintenance becomes your hobby - a fun and relaxing hobby, and quite cheap too, I might add - your Datsun 1200 will become a labour of love that will serve you well. After all, an old car, like a house, is never perfect.


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