Friday, October 3, 2014

Datsun 710

Another car that we had when I was young was my mother's Datsun 710. This was our second family car for a while until mom bought the silver car (which I haven't researched yet). After mom, it went on to my brother. I drove it one summer in college at my mother's insistance, which was enough to get me to my summer job and back.

The year that matches the best looks like 1974, but anywhere near could easily be the model year. Not really knowing which is which (and mom doesn't remember exactly either), I picked 1974 as good enough.

I remember ours having a white interior with white vinyl seats. This was the first hatchback that we owned, and the first coup. The idea of popping the seats forward to get in an out was a novelty. Mom's was an automatic. Although the thing looks light, it drove surprisingly heavy by today's standards. Despite its appearance as riding high, the thing wasn't very tippy as its frame was quite heavy.

Power wise, the engine worked okay, but only okay. It was peppy like a small car rather than smooth like a family car. It worked.

The interior screamed Japanese design. You see much the same exact design in Japanese cars: center hand brake, bucket seats, padded doors, shifter on the center console, and stiff steering. It was a no-nonsense car in every sense of the word. Oh, and that T-bar shifter. I completely forgot about that. You pushed the button on the side of the T to move the lever. 

In high school, my sister preferred taking this car over dad's larger car, and if she only had dad's car available, would ride with friends, so I didn't drive this car that much once I got my license.

I don't remember much about the performance characteristics, other than it had rack and pinion steering, which meant you had to work at your driving because that wheel was heavier than it looked.

Those back windows were louvered, which meant that you could crack pop them open for air flow. That was a popular hatchback design back then (my 1988 Civic also had that feature). The only unhandy feature of them was that you had to park in order to open or close them. The rest of the windows operated by hand cranks. Again, usual for the day. 

The environmental controls worked by slide levers. The 70's loved slides. That design worked so well that nobody ever went back to it again. However, the haptic feedback was rather good as the slides clunked when you hit set points.