Why did you go for this car?
I’m nostalgic about it because I actually learnt how to drive in this specific model and unfortunately it was sold. I decided even back then that when I grew up I would have to get the same car.
I traversed the country looking for a Datsun 120Y coupe, even going up to Isiolo and finally I found this, trashed and neglected, somewhere in Banana town. It hadn’t moved in about five years and then I began the time and money intensive process of fixing it up.
Talk us through the process?
First was lots and lots of welding. It’s a 43 year-old car and these ones specifically are full of rust. You can imagine it sat in unprotected in all seasons, from rain, hear and cold, for over five years. So before everything I had to deal with the rust. Then I rebuilt the engine. It’s the original 1,200cc engine with the 4 speed manual gearbox.
Everything is stock and I wanted to keep it that way, so I just did an overhaul. Mechanical repairs have been a slow progressive process and I finally showcased it at the Concours two years ago, last year was the second time. I want it in such a condition that I can go anywhere. So far I have gone to Mombasa and a few other places with it and hope to go to Kisumu next.
Any memorable experiences with it?
For the past three years I have been doing cross-country trips with this car, but the Mombasa trip was my most memorable. It was a 1,100km return trip, which went absolutely issue free and I managed 19km per litre which is impressive even by today’s standards. The car really comes alive on the highways and then you can fully enjoy it.
Initially I didn’t think I would be getting so many mechanical breakdowns, but it should have been expected in a dead car. Fortunately I had so many breakdowns that by fixing one by one, I slowly became a mechanic. Now if I’m anywhere and anything goes wrong I can fix it myself. Getting parts was not a problem as there are so many dead Datsuns everywhere.