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Shiny Datsun: 1971

August 1971. A car that today you'd most likely see as a rusting hulk in a junkyard or vacant lot, and clothes in a Goodwill. My brother and sister-in-law pose with their 1967 Datsun Bluebird parked on my father's garage ramp on Walnut Avenue in Larkspur, California. All kidding aside, I think they're both pretty snappily dressed, and her expression is pricelessly inscrutable. My Kodachrome slide. View full size.

August 1971. A car that today you'd most likely see as a rusting hulk in a junkyard or vacant lot, and clothes in a Goodwill. My brother and sister-in-law pose with their 1967 Datsun Bluebird parked on my father's garage ramp on Walnut Avenue in Larkspur, California. All kidding aside, I think they're both pretty snappily dressed, and her expression is pricelessly inscrutable. My Kodachrome slide. View full size.

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Your sister-in-law appeared to be living the life we all aspired to in 1971. Cool, confident, stylish, beautiful and such a handsome husband. Brother-in-law sold separately.

My car -- almost

Imagine my surprise when I clicked on this page and saw my old high school ride -- almost! My Datsun 411 was a maroon colored wagon. It served me well through two years of high school and two years of commuting to college in the late '70s and early '80s. I'm so glad to see this shinier sedan version a decade earlier. I'm sure these folks enjoyed this baby like I enjoyed mine!

It is the wig I love!

It is especially the wig terrace's brother wears that I like.

Kodachrome assumptions in "Shiny Shiny..."

Wow, talk about way-off assumptions - of which there are many more in the person's blog. Just briefly, and as I'm sure many here are aware, it wouldn't be even remotely reasonable to expect that my brother and sister-in-law, or anyone else in these circumstances, would be giving the slightest thought to the kind of film in my camera. 15-20 years earlier people might wonder "is it color or black-and-white," or maybe they'd be interested to know it was going to be a color slide rather than a print, but being concerned over whether it was Kodachrome? Come on. Another head-shaking contention is that color slides in general were always merely a niche product. I'd like to send this individual back in time and make them sit through some random person's slide show of their vacation last year.

Shiny, shiny / bad times behind me

This image inspired the last part of a lengthy and rambling blog post I wrote a couple of days ago:

It's part of a longer series about Kodachrome. My thesis is that Kodachrome -- despite being around for ages and being very long-lived -- has had a surprisingly small impact on the collective consciousness, in part because it has always been a formal film aimed at the kind of professionals who do not produce images that are meant to last. News photographers very rarely used it and it wasn't all that popular for family snapshots as far as I know, at least outside California, because it was expensive. I just made that up, although it sounds plausible. I would need to have solid figures that detail Kodachrome's sales figures globally compared to other slide films and films in general. Was Kodachrome unusually expensive in California in 1971? Was there an alternative, or was it the default choice? Was it hip?

[If I may interject a few words: For many years, Kodachrome was the most popular slide film in America. It accounts for billions of 35mm transparencies (by one estimate, 35 billion) of birthdays, vacations and weddings. Just my parents and grandparents alone have dozens of carousel trays holding thousands of Kodachrome vacation and holiday slides. Multiply that times a few million other families. - Dave]

My sub-thesis is that Kodachrome was thus used mainly for posed formal family portraits rather than snapshots, and that the subjects tend to look uncomfortable because of this, although in this case the people nonetheless exhibit character and appear to be real human beings with lives and a sense of fashion that would be perfectly natural in a world where The Flaming Lips were the dominant cultural force. Not our world, not yet. Posed formal portraits date badly and do not grab a mass audience; they grab the people who read Shorpy, but we are not a mass audience.

On a tangent, my Theory of Woman: The 1970s includes a timeline that begins with Marilyn Lange - Miss May 1974 - and ends with Farrah Fawcett. The lady in this picture is clearly at the earlier end of the scale. Was it that this kind of look was popular at the time, or were women different then? Where did they go in the 1980s?

Good Grief...

The Farkizations of this photo are hilarious! (Well, except for one certain B&W shot.) A Hot Wheels-style Mustang? Herbie The Love Bug? Spinners? Getouttahere!

What would/does Sis-In-Law think?

Fark the Car

Farked again. (With apologies to your sister-in-law.)

Rust rust rust

I had two Datsuns in the 1970s, a 1974 610 wagon, and a 1978 510 wagon. Both were reliable cars but they rusted like crazy. Nevertheless they were a good alternative to the Detroit small car offerings of the era, the Pinto and the Vega.

The body of my '78 was about 20 percent Bondo when I junked it with 146,000 miles ten years later.

Ok, maybe a bit of a stalker.

So here is what it looks like today. The stairs are looking down instead of up, and the basic garage hasn't changed. Cool neighborhood.

To the driveway stalker

rgraham, the gravel in the photo is actually the shoulder of Walnut Ave. Our "driveway" was the wooden ramp, since replaced with a concrete one. The northern tip of it was truncated a couple years ago to make room for a carport for a new house on the other side of the long flight of stairs, which is actually Arch Street, an official city thoroughfare. So today, what was our garage/driveway is now the second one immediately to the south of the top of Arch St.

Below, our garage and Arch Street in 1955 Ektachromes by my brother.

Not that I'm a stalker....

But since I live pretty close to this neighborhood, I drove by to see if the driveway was still gravel. Well, I couldn't quite figure out exactly which house this was, but I didn't see any houses with gravel driveways anyway. Did you live next to that super long and steep set of stairs that run down to Magnolia? I bet those where fun to run up and down. I bet you know exactly how many steps there are too.

Brother's Other Cars

"What's he driving today?"

His most interesting car was a Fiat X-19. His most boring car was a Fiat station wagon. He doesn't have a car anymore.

Still asking...

Tterrace, did you see my post about your brother's car? (the "American Muscle" post is mine). What's he driving today?

That Datsun Gal

Well, my sister-in-law seems to have a fan club here. Here she is in a very 70s mode, smiling enigmatically again, in a shot I took at a crafts fair in Santa Cruz, California in 1974.

You can also see her here, here, and here.

American Muscle

Am I the only one here who would NOT buy a Datsun/Nissan? Never AGAIN. I had one of the God-awful things back in the '80s. My DH is an automotive technician and he won't have one either!

Give me American muscle ANY day (says the owner of an '06 Chrysler 300C WITH a Hemi)!

Just curious, Tterrace, what is your brother driving today? I see him in any of the following: a Volvo, Lexus SUV, a VW (probably a Jetta), or a BMW. How far off am I?

Datsun Copy Cat

I hate to say it, but this little car shows the Japannese pention for ripping off other designs. It is almost an exact copy of a 1967 Alfa Romeo Guilia Sedan which I used own. The styling is so identical that the cars are almost twins on the outside. Unfortunately, the Datsun didn't have the all alluminum dual overhad cam engine that that the Alfa had. Hence about 40% less horsepower.

[Those overhad Japannese pentions were always breaking! - Dave]

What goes around...

Add either a chunky belt or fun necklace (not both) and I would wear her outfit tomorrow, shoes and all!


You had to be a major trend setter to buy a Datsun in 1971. I imagine that this car attracted more attention at that time than a Mini Cooper or a Smart Car would today.

I would also guess that if they ever drove this car to within 100 miles of an American auto assembly plant that they received a lot of negative attention and possibly some threats.

I would have been terrified to drive this car around at a time when all the other cars weighed two tons, had 300+ horsepower and four wheel drum brakes.

It's only fair.......

to run a present day photo of these two......if possible? ...Please

The Datsun

I purchased a new 1970 Datsun 510, bright orange in color, at Annex Motors in San Rafael, near Larkspur. I was stationed at Hamilton Air Force Base in Novato, just up the road. It was a great car priced at $1,750 and it's a beautiful area of Northern California.


In 1977 I decided to buy a commuter car. I paid $2700 for a B210 coupe special edition called the Streamliner. It was a great little car and got good mileage. I liked it so much that in 1981 I bought the introductory model of the Maxima. The car cost $11,000. fully loaded with among other things a voice warning system. The only factory extra you could get was a luggage rack. I sold it in 1987, it had 128,000 miles and the only major repair was for a malfunctioning sun roof. Those were the days when an American new car dealer told you to write down any problems with the car when it when you bring it in for the 1,000 mile checkup. The list would have at least 6 items on it and they probably didn't fix them the first time. The Japanese competition caused the U.S factories to start building more reliable cars but they never caught on or caught up.

It's no Nissan Figaro

but the Datsun has a certain homely charm.

Dang She is HOT!

Dang She is HOT!

She's Absolutely Gorgeous

I would like to see more pics of her.

Datsun Dash Mystery

I'm virtually certain it was a box of Kleenex.

In answer to the slide scanning question, see here.

The meaning of archival

Kodachrome rocks

It's the belt!

Check out the Hippy belt slid over to his left.
How cool to be to the "Grove", hair and all.

Design by Pininfarina

The Datsun 411 here was styled by the Pininfarina studio in italy. It does have a bit of an Alfa Romeo vibe. A pretty litle car, but was eclipsed by the Datsun 510, a more modern and powerful car, and a real looker as well.

The more things change....

Funny thing is that those clothes and hair would fit right in with today's hipster kids.

Inscrutable? In the 70s?

Chemically induced, I would say. Not that I have any such experience...

The book on the dash

Looks like one of those "Reader's Digest Condensed Edition" anthologies.

Reminds me

Of the 1969 Toyota Corona, my first car. Bought it used for $100. I treated it so badly, and ultimately totaled it. Now I have to see what they are selling for these days.

Re: Texting while driving

It looks like a wrapped present, although the present may well be a book.

Tech Tips

What do you use to transfer your slides to digital?

Texting while driving.

What's the book on the dashboard?

Car and Driver

Wow, she's a hotty. Looks like Minnie Driver!!

That Girl

She's gorgeous! How is she doing these days? Did the marriage last?

That 70's Look

Let's face facts. Guys from the 1970s come off looking infinitely worse than the ladies. Regardless of how quirky the girl's clothing may look today -- peasant dresses, bellbottoms, granny glasses, overly long untamed hair, funky hats, etc. -- the overall appearance can still come off as, well, sexy.

But the guys -- sheesh!!! The hair, the glasses, the shirt, the belt, the jeans -- yikes!!! Can you say "dork"? I would be very interested to see what these two people -- contemporaries of mine (and yes, my old photos from that period show my wife in sexy miniskirts, black turtlenecks and patched jeans, and me in just hideously awful things) -- look like today.

Car washing

Men do spend a lot of time washing and polishing their cars. I first noticed this when I was a kid in the 1930s. I thought what a waste of time and effort so I now buy white vehicles and wash them every 6 months or so even if they don`t need it.

All I can say is

I am totally digging the funky patterns on those super funky clothes.

Bemused pain?

Check out her Vulcan Death Grip on T-Bro's trapezius that Mr. Spock would envy. Rumor has it that it can turn hair prematurely gray, it's that painful.


Actually her expression may be one of bemused pain, as it looks like he's got her in a solid arm lock.

Meanwhile, America is still recovering from the 1970's.

Mona Lisa

I'm surprised nobody's compared your sister-in-law to that other inscrutable beauty.

Big Bro's Blingmobile

The DATSUN nameplate is gold. It came that way from the factory?

Datsun jingle

Actually, I feel the title of my post "Shiny Datsun" should be sung to the tune of "Tiny Bubbles" (which has been popping unbidden into my head since submitting it). Incidentally, it's shiny because I had probably washed and waxed it for them earlier in the day. I was always a fan of shiny cars, and this was back when I still enjoyed doing it. Back around 1960, I took a series of shots of our 1956 Rambler, all sparkly, parked in this very spot, freshly Turtle Waxed, chrome polished and with whitewalls scrupulously SOS-ed. A year after this shot, this spot became the roost for my own first car, also a Datsun.

My first Datsun: 2001

What 30 years of cheeseburgers will do to you.

I totally love that car.

I totally love that car. Then again, I drive a Mini Cooper.

Suddenly it's gonna dawn on you... Datsun saaaaves!

I went to hear folk singer Greg Greenway tonight. He mentioned buying a used Datsun 510 wagon "mostly orange, with a 2.5 Briggs and Stratton motor." It's a rare day when I encounter a "Datsun" reference twice in a day.


Like most things these days the new Clarks are not the same as old. Manufacturing moved to Asia for the past 10+ years and the quality has taken a hit.

[That's too bad. Former Wallabees wearer myself. - Dave]

Re: Desert Boots!

It's suede, and they haven't stopped making them. I used to wear desert boots during college in the '80s.

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