At $5,500, Will This Survivor 1981 Datsun 210 Prove a Savvy Sale?

Nice Price or No Dice 1981 Datsun 210
Nice Price or No Dice 1981 Datsun 210

Today’s Nice Price or No Dice Datsun 210 is kind of an enigma. The fact that it still exists is plenty surprising, but poses the question of what should be done with it. We’ll start, however, with what to do with its price.

The seller of yesterday’s 2002 BMW 540i M-Sport claimed it to presently be “Senior Owned,” but didn’t clarify as to whether that was a high school or college senior. All kidding aside, that M62-packing E39 would likely be a very serious way to have fun for any sort of senior, or anyone else, for that matter.

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There is, of course, the matter of its $13,000 price. That seemed to be a fair price for all that fun, at least to the narrow majority of you who awarded the car a 51 percent Nice Price win.

Yesterday’s win means that BMW still brings the heat. Still, that’s a daunting task for any company, especially one like BMW that tries to fill just about every niche it can find that will make the company money. In fact, right now I think the Bavarian-based carmaker is foisting a head-spinning 16 disparate models on the American market. And that’s not counting the hybrid, electric, or M variations.

The one area that BMW has chosen not to ply its trade, not even with its Mini off-shoot, is in the realm of basic transportation. Here is where the likes of Toyota’s Corolla, Mitsubishi’s Mirage, and Nissan’s Versa and Sentra rule the roost. None of these is a terrible car — well, admittedly the Mirage is a bit of a dog — and they all serve a purpose. Carmakers have been serving this purpose for decades now, so long in fact, that one company — Nissan — actually changed names along the way.

Photo:  Craigslist
Photo: Craigslist

This 1981 Datsun 210 is from the pre-Nissan era here in the States and is the direct ancestor of the present-day Sentra.

Originally denoted as the B210, Datsun’s Corolla competitor dropped the B with the model’s 1977 redesign so as to better align its naming convention with the FWD 310, larger 510, and range-topping 810 model lines.

This yellow-over-brown two-door offers a SOHC four, that was listed in the brochure as a 1.2-liter but is actually a tad larger at 1237ccs. That 68-horsepower four could be paired with either a four- or five-speed manual or, as in this car’s case, a three-speed automatic. The 210's fuel economy really took a hit with the addition of the slusher, costing fully 8 mpg on the EPA highway cycle over the five-speed manual.

Photo:  Craigslist
Photo: Craigslist

That’s not to say this 210 is a thirsty old girl, and it will run on regular so it likely won’t drink you out of house and home.

Frugality comes at a cost, though, and in this 210’s case that’s a dearth of features, conveniences and, to be honest, style. Oh sure, this is retro-‘80s cool just by its mere existence. Just don’t expect too much from it.

Photo:  Craigslist
Photo: Craigslist

There are only 88,347 miles on the clock, which might help explain the car’s present existence while at the same time pretty much all other 210s have long since gone the way of Elvis.

It does sport a few battle scars from those years and miles. The most notable of those is a dent in the bodywork just below the grille that somehow the jutting front bumper failed to prevent. There are also a good number of chips here and there in the already fading paint, but that all just serves to give the car an inviting patina, like a well-worn pair of comfortable old jeans.

Photo:  Craigslist
Photo: Craigslist

We don’t get to see the interior other than a couple of peeks through the glass, but at least based on those, it seems to be there. There’s no A/C, power anything, or even a tach. What you do get is some deep dish alloys wrapped in new tires and one of those cool radio antennas that follow the driver’s side A-pillar. Who doesn’t love those?

According to the seller, the car is in “nice working condition,” and “Runs, drives, and looks great!” The cherry on top is a clear title.

Photo:  Craigslist
Photo: Craigslist

For all this retro goodness, the seller asks $5,500 and warns that only “serious buyers” need apply. What do you think? Should someone seriously consider this 210 for that $5,500 price? Or, to you, is that just one big joke?

You decide!

Los Angeles, California, Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

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