I was the proud owner of this red 1972 Datsun 1200/LB110. The blue one is my dad's. I love to work on these little old 1200's. I now own a white coupe, since the red one got totalled a while ago.
Originally this car came with a 1.2 liter A-12 engine producing 69 hp @ 6,000 rpm (it's redline) and 70 ft. lbs of torque. The stock compression ratio is 8.5:1. For the first 3 years I drove the bright orange 1200 with a stock rebuilt A-12 engine that ran great but had barely any power (able to run high 18 sec ET). Still it was enough to waste a lot of fellow high schoolers around town and push the car to over 100 mph. It would redline at about 6100 rpm and it could do it all day. In search of more power, I started looking for the largest A series engine Nissan made. The engine I found is an overhead valve A-15 (1488 cc) engine from a 1982 Datsun 210. I bought it from a guy who said it supposedly had only 80,000 miles on it for $100. It looked like it was in good shape, and the guy said it ran. The almighty A-15 engine stock is rated at 69 hp @ 5,200 rpm and 80 ft. lbs @ 3,200 rpm this crappy rating was thanks to about 100 lbs. of emissions and vacuum lines, but it has 8.9:1 compression. As soon as I got the engine I stripped it down painted it and put it in my car. I figured it would make at least 86 hp (highest rating for A series engine 78 A-14) after stripping all the stuff off. After driving around with it for a month or so I found that it needed a rebuild so I took it out and rebuilt it. It's now closer to being a 1500 engine, now it displaces 1497 cc's rather than 1488 cc's from an overbore of .50 mm. The crankshaft was magnafluxed, micropolished, reground, and balanced with .25 mm undersized bearings. A set of chrome-moly rings, new timing set, new lifters, and bearings all found their way in as well. My guess is that it probably now puts out around 125 hp, it pulls pretty strong. It redlines at about 7400 rpm, but the power peaks out around 6900. Of course my tach is kinda inaccurate, so that may be wrong.
The camshaft I bought from Delta Cams, in Tacoma, for $50. It's duration at .050" is 229 degrees, cam rise .295, lobe center 108 degrees. The advertised duration is 280 degrees with .414" lift. I have to set the valve lash at .018" and timing is set ahead about 3 degrees over stock. This cam makes the car lope a bit at idle. Even though the tach reads 900 rpm, it sounds more like 400 rpm, but I love the way it sounds.
I have recently acquired a GX intake setup for my Datto. It consists of dual 38mm Hitachi SU sidedraft carbs. These are the "flat top" carbs, a little different than other SU's I've seen. Before I installed this setup, I spent about 30 hours cleaning and polishing the intake and carbs. I was able to get the intake and carb throats to shine like a mirror to help with the flow. It came with a killer heat shield that works great, and I cut off the water circulation. This setup is so efficeint that, believe it or not, on a cool morning, the bodies of the carbs actually formed ice on them when the car was fully warmed up! I was previously using a Weber 32/36 DGV carb on a 78 A14 intake, oval ports and no water circulation, and it worked okay for a while. The new GX intake has much larger oval ports, so I'm thinking the head needs to be opened up to release the full potential of this setup. At the same time I put the SU's on, I also installed a NISMO equal length chrome plated header. It has 1.5" primaries, and a 2.5" collector. Since my exhaust was already 2.25" I decided to leave it that size and put on a new Turbo muffler at the same time. It sounds a lot more tuned rather than loud and obnoxious like it used to be. After installing this header/SU setup, I noticed a huge improvement, especially in the lower rpms. The gas pedal is so touchy now! My only problem is that the SU's are a little more finnicky at the higher rpms, as compared to the old Weber. I still get around 30 miles per gallon which blows me away, and this thing really pulls hard now.
I'm using the stock A-15 pointless electronic distributor along with 8 mm silicon wires. The electronic distributor is much better than points and can be used in any A series engine. It just hooks up with 2 wires. I have an Accel Super Coil as well. I will be trying to recurve the distributor over the summer to see if I can get it to run any better.
Nissan had so many different configurations of cylinder heads that I probably still haven't seen all of them. Round ports, oval ports, circular combustion chambers, butterfly shaped combustion chambers, I don't know which is best but on my car I have a 78 A14 GX head with large oval ports and heart or peanut shaped combustion chambers. It has been milled, ported and polished, with a 3 angle valve job. It needs to be ported and polished more though, to match it up to the GX intake. The valve springs seem to be holding up fine to the high rpms. I would like to invest in Malvern Racing's roller rockers with a higher ratio to increase lift. Maybe if I can afford it someday stainless steel or titanium valves will go in.
The stock 1200 drivetrain is weak. I went through three 4 speeds and one rearend with the stock A12 engine! I went to a 5 speed from an 82 Sunny Wagon, and a driveshaft and 3.90:1 rearend from a 78 B210 GX. The 79-82 5 speeds are kind of weak, they have the same size I/O shaft as the stock 4 speed. I've had mine for about a year and it is time to be replaced, I think the center main bearings are going out, it makes a lot of noise. I actually got quite a bit of harsh driving out of this tranny...drove down to Texas and back in one weekend, with an average speed of about 100 mph, numerous trips back and forth from Seattle to Ellensburg, and a bit of racing have worn it out. The 5th gear drops the rpm's just a little from 4th gear, but it is definitely a big gain, and allows higher top speeds (135 mph so far!)
The suspension has been modified as much as everything else. The rearend (lowering blocks) and front end (shorter springs) are lowered about 2 inches. I have some shortened stiff springs on the front that came with the car. The coils are larger in diameter than 1200 springs and much much stiffer. I have a pair of KONI adjustable strut insterts in the front that make it stiffer than you can believe. The rear is using KYB Gas A Just shocks. I also have Addco front and rear sway bars with polyuerethane bushings and adjustable end links. I also have a 4 point roll bar for more chassis rigidity and safety. I have a "Formuling" steering wheel on it also.
I'm using 13x5.5" aluminum slotted mags with 175/50's all around. The tires don't rub at all, but it needs bigger tires on the back to handle better. I will be going to 175/50's on the front and 215/50's on the rear, maybe. All my hydraulic lines are stainless steel, even including the clutch line! The braking is stock for now, and scary at times. I am hoping to fix that this summer with some 210 struts and master cylinder, and Volvo disks. I'm going to order new Koni's for the 210 struts, and do some hunting to find a good brake setup. I couldn't tell you how many cars I have dusted going around curves.
The body needs some work with small dents and rust holes, but isn't beyond fixing. I modified the tailights a little by putting the clear reversing lenses replacing the red brake lenses, but that's about it. The interior is in decent shape, I've got Subaru seat in the front that are much more comfortable than the worn out 1200 seats.
The car still has a lot to go yet before it reaches my expectations, but it does good right now. With the A12 engine, my car ran a 19.1 something second quarter mile with a slow reaction time, it could've been in the 18's with more runs. Unofficial 0-60 is about 7 seconds, and it ran high 16's/low 17's last year before the SU's/header. On June 11th, I will take it to Import Drags at SIR to see what I can run before my transmission blows. I think I can now go low 16's, and hopefully high 15's. My goal is to get into the 15's with my setup. So far I have taken the car up to an unbelieveable 6900 rpm in 5th gear, which is around 135 mph. I think I can go faster now, but not until I get a new tranny in there. If you have questions or any 1200 parts you want to get rid of, email me errrnstak@hotmail. Check out plans for my future 1200!