Does this Datsun have airbags?
October 8, 2017 5:22 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking at buying a sedan from the 80's or early 90's and came across this Datsun. I'm going to have a mechanic look at it first and foremost, but want to pre-emptively ask if these models had airbags.

I can't quite tell, and it's hard to find specs on these models on the internet.

Also, words of caution or advice in other regards welcome. I'm looking to buy an old car, that has this aesthetic and is something I can learn how to practice fixing cars on.
posted by erattacorrige to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total)
No, a 1984 Datsun would not have airbags. According to Wikipedia the first Japanese car to have airbags was the Honda Legend in 1987.
posted by xil at 5:27 PM on October 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

Nope. No airbags then AFAIR.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 6:04 PM on October 8, 2017

The steering wheel shows it clearly has no airbags in the pictures, too. Airbag wheels - especially early ones - are much chunkier in the centre.

That is a LOT of money for that car, though. That looks like it has had a sizeable whack in the centre of it and just half assed repaired (ie new door) and no frame repair done. Just hide it. That suggests it is decent damage. Also, it not being addressed until it is rusty is a serious sign.

There are better fixer uppers out there than that one for practice. Also, parts may be hard to find and expensive for that car. Look into parts budgeting before you commit to a car.
posted by Brockles at 6:10 PM on October 8, 2017 [4 favorites]

Thanks everyone. Yeah, there are better cars out there for me, for what I want to do...

Appreciate it!
posted by erattacorrige at 6:40 PM on October 8, 2017

I agree that seems like an awful lot of money. I don't think an unrestored car that age should sell for much over scrap value. I agree it's cute, though, like a lot of 80s "sporty" stuff is. I also agree the left side looks pretty screwed up with how the doors don't fit.

For a daily driver I'd strongly prefer, in order of decreasing importance: fuel injection (which started appearing around 85-86), R-134 instead of R-12 refrigerant since I live somewhere with summers (94ish? A label under the hood will say), and OBD2 diagnostics (96).

I have had daily drivers made in the 40s-00s, mostly self-maintained, and in my experience each one of those things that's missing is really a sacrifice. Much more than a missing air bag (assuming you always properly wear a seat belt like I do...)
posted by fritley at 6:41 PM on October 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

I sold a 1992 Celica last December for basically nothing. It had been sitting for 3 years, the guy was worried, but once we put in the steering fluid, that think took off, he was ecstatic. It is a cute little car, with airbags, sun roof, electric outside mirrors. It was a little rocket ship. My ex's dad swore by these because they have a strong engine, and a small body, and the engine lasts forever. The car had about 2oo,ooo miles on it. Still a great car.
posted by Oyéah at 9:07 PM on October 8, 2017

Something from the 90s will be so much better in almost every conceivable way, even if you end up with automatic seatbelts rather than an airbag. Crumple zones finally were becoming a thing on non-luxury cars, for one. Also far more attention was being paid to the crash safety of interior surfaces by then. They're still shit compared to a modern car, even leaving out airbags, but they aren't complete death traps in even low speed collisions.

Most makes also improved substantially mechanically as well, in terms of reliability, fuel economy, and performance. It's hard to really internalize how much better cars are now than they were 30+ years ago. While they were easier to work on, there are plenty that were made well into the 90s that should be very inexpensive and yet are still easy to wrench on.
posted by wierdo at 3:36 AM on October 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

We had a 1983 Sentra wagon. The engine was bullet proof. Still had a carburetor in those years though. AC was weak. Everything was simpler under the hood in those days. Definitely no air bags.
posted by LoveHam at 4:31 AM on October 9, 2017

"passive restraint systems" became a requirement in the us in mid-1989, for the 1990 model year. Until that point, airbags were generally expensive options, and often only available in luxury models (and in practice, they were fairly rare). Starting in 1990, a US-sold vehicle needed to have either an automatic seatbelt or airbags. Virtually all japanese cars in the US used automatic seatbelts (which were generally terrible from a user-friendliness perspective), until mid-decade, because those seatbelts were much cheaper than airbags, and the manufacturers' research said that price was more important than safety in the eyes of their buyers.

Airbags were a US requirement starting in mid-1998. Any 1999 or later car will have them. Many manufacturers phased them in between 1990 and 1998. If airbags are a hard requirement for you, you're going to have a very difficult time finding anything in the realm of mid-80s Japanese workhorse that fits the bill.
posted by toxic at 3:29 PM on October 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

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