If you love old roadsters and dream of buying an old MGB or Triumph to fix up as a project car—don’t do it! Well, at least not until you watch the season premiere of Wheeler Dealers, with hosts Mike Brewer and Ant Anstead. The latest episode features a sweet 1969 Datsun Roadster that nearly steals the show.
The so-called British imposter is also known as the Fairlady in Japan. If you are lucky enough to find one in good condition, the Datsun Roadster is a very reliable two-seater unlike the MGs of the same period, which are much more likely to leave you stranded on the side of the road.
Datsun Roadsters were built from 1963 to 1970 and packed 1,500, 1,600, and 2,000cc (1.5-liter, 1.6-liter, and 2-liter) engines under its hoodscoop throughout its evolution. As you may already know, Brewer is an expert at finding cars on the cheap and snatched up a rust-free model with a coveted 2-liter four-cylinder engine from a friend for a deal. Hey, they don’t call the show Wheeler Dealers for nothing, and naturally, the car needed a bit of work.
After a quick test drive, the happy host feels its steering handles like a tugboat, the suspension is tired, and the red velour interior is awful. The convertible is also missing its soft top, needs a serious brake upgrade, the gas and brake pedals are too close together, and it has a leaky manifold.
“The engine sounds like a broken lawn mower,” master mechanic Ant Anstead says during the season opener. But like us, he has a soft spot for roadsters and admits the Datsun’s upkeep and ownership “won’t break the bank or your heart.”
You get what you pay for, right? Well, these gents know a thing or two about cars and make small work of the Datsun Roadster in a jiffy. The broken headers are fixed, a new brake kit from Volvo is a major upgrade for the vintage set, and the hideous crushed velour upholstery is replaced. Anstead also fixes the pedal issues with a little muscle and a vice grip. Brewer even pitches in, locates an original soft top, and manages to make it look pretty good with a little help from another pal.
By the end of this episode, the sweet-sounding Fairlady finds a lucky new owner—but do they make a profit? Tune in to find out why Wheeler Dealers—which is now in its 22 season of finding, fixing, and flipping interesting vehicles—is showing no signs of slowing down.