When car enthusiasts hear or think of the brand “Datsun”, the first thing that often pops into their head are the more popular models like the 240z, 1600, 1200 or 240k. It’d be safe to say, most people probably wouldn’t know of or have even seen a Datsun Sunny 1000 before. With lesser-known models like this, you either love it or you hate it. In this case, we’re absolutely diggin’ Ashley’s simple, yet tastefully modified example.
At last year’s All Japanese Day car show, the Plate Game team was bestowed the honour of judging and finding a car deserving of the Trader’s Choice trophy. Although there were many well-built cars on the day, we chose Ashley’s Datsun Sunny 1000 as the winner.
To the untrained eye, a lot of Ashley's custom work would probably go unnoticed and honestly, we missed a lot of little details ourselves as the workmanship was that good. If we hadn't spoken to Ashley after he was presented with the trophy, we'd still be none the wiser.
Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to see mostly off-the-shelf, bolt-on parts on a lot of modified cars; so it was refreshing to learn that Ashley’s Sunny had its fair share of custom hand-built, restored or factory parts from other Datsuns incorporated into the build. From hand-formed sheet metal bits and custom metal 3D printed badges, this little Sunny has it all.
Here’s a quick overview of Ashley's Sunny and some words of wisdom from the man, himself:
Vehicle: 1967 Datsun Sunny 1000, 2 Door Sedan
- A12 Engine
- 4 Speed floor shift conversion
- SSS L-Series Airbox
- Hayashi Racing Rocker Cover
- MSD 6AL Ignition System
- 14” Gloria Super Shark rims
- Optional Sports Steering Wheel
- Datsun 120Y Coupe Seats
- Respray in original paint colour
Name: Ashley Wyatt
Question 1: At what age did your love of cars begin?
A: I got a taste for cars when I was child as my Dad is a giant car nut, with strong a love for Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Maserati etc, basically anything you could class as an Italian classic car.
I have fond memories of his Fiat 124 sport,
Memories of looking out the windows as we drive through the country side and listening to a combination of Webers and a Talking Heads cassette tape.
Question 2: What is your favourite automotive manufacturer and why?
They seem to make everyone around you happy.
Receiving thumbs up, smiles and waves are common when driving one.
A Datsun makes the world a happier place everywhere it goes.
Question 3: Out of all the cars you have ever owned, what was your most memorable one and why?
A: My Datsun 1000.
I’ve owned it for nearly 10 years now,
During that time it has taught me many skills.
Almost every time I decide to make a part for it I need to do something that I have no idea how to do, so it has created a secondary hobby within itself.
There is the car hobby of buying and fitting available parts, attending car meets, driving with friends etc.
And there is also the hobby of building your own parts in such a way that they appear to be a genuine factory part, or at the very least made to suit the parts around it.
Question 4: What is your most memorable vehicle-related moment?
A: I was passenger in my friends TA22 Celica while we were driving home along the main road.when I saw a van speeding out of a side street on a collision course with us.
I pointed out the van to my friend who was driving at the time and in the split second he had left he unclipped his seatbelt, sat on the centre console as he steered the Celica to the shoulder lane
The lady driving the van T-Boned us hard enough to push the outside of the Celica door to the centre line of the steering wheel.
Luckily he did this as we were all unharmed.
To this day I am amazed at how quickly my friend assessed the situation and made the decisions that he did.
Question 5: Do you have any other car projects on the horizon? If so, what are they and what’re your plans?
A: My current plans are to continue improving my Datsun 1000 with a fresh engine and 4 wheel disc brakes on the to do list.
Other than this, my current plans are to chip away at keeping my daily driven Datsun 1200 on good working order and maybe some basic mods such as lower springs, weber carb etc.
Question 6: What is your dream vehicle if you don’t already own it?
I have more of a dream garage, Top of the list would be a Datsun Hakosuka GTR, then I think next on the list is fairly even between a Fiat 850 coupe, Honda S600-Hard top and a Classic Mini.
Question 7: If you were to start building this car again, what would you do differently?
A: I don't think I’d do anything differently, as each decision I have made I did so with careful thought about what I wanted the car to be.
The one thing I would do differently would be to collect more spares.
Most parts are getting extremely hard to come by if you want something in excellent condition.
Question 8: What are the top 3 modifications on your car and why?
Buying these wheels set me down the path for every other aesthetic decision in the entire build.
2. Handbrake relocation and Gearbox swap.
The car had the handbrake on the dash and was 3 speed column shift when I first purchased it. These two changes made the car substantially more fun to drive.
3. Red engine components
I absolutely love the family of engine that the Datsun 1000 came with stock.
The red parts I have chosen to use show that I am running the A-Series engine because I love them.
The Hayashi Racing cover is from a limited run of only 20 covers, so for other A-Series fans this is a real point of interest in the car.
Question 9: What are your future plans for the Datsun Sunny?
A: Finish my 4 wheel disc brake swap (Front: Holden VK Commodore calipers, Nissan U12 Pintara rotors. Rear: Nissan S14 Calipers, Honda Accord Rotors), drop in my Datsun A14 engine and GX head, add some Hitachi SU's and A12T inlet manifold, upgrade exhaust to 1 3/4 stainless after GX exhaust manifold, swap 1600 SSS airbox to A12 GX airbox.
So in Layman’s terms, I’m trying to build my take on what a special model of 1000 could have been if Nissan had made a 1000 variant similar to the 1200 GX
Then using that as a general design goal upgrade/modify the car in a way that fits/respects the time it came from.
And finally, I have an AC Swap to finish.
Question 10: If you could give advice to any retro JDM car enthusiasts wanting to pick up a Datsun Sunny, what would it be?
A: Parts... start collecting parts, they are getting less common and prices are rising.
While chatting to Ashley about his Sunny, you could tell he was a true die-hard Datsun enthusiast and the attention to detail, effort and countless hours poured into the build was nothing short of inspiring.
For full details on Ashley’s Datsun Sunny 1000, check out his build thread here:
Photo Credits: retrojdm.com, Ashley Wyatt