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T H E B A S I L I C 2000 R O A D S T E R
A TRIO OF JAPANESE SPECIALS BASED ON THE FAIRLADY 2000 SR311
CLICK ON THE ABOVE THUMBNAILS FOR LARGER IMAGES
Masao Watanabe had already built a number of specials before he started work on the Basilic Roadster, in 1976. All of his previous work, some of which was highly acclaimed, was of a contemporary style, and the Basilic was his first attempt at retro-styling.
The Datsun Fairlady Roadster lent itself well to the conversion. The concept was similar to a design which sold well in Britain in the early 1970s based on the MG Midget/Austin Healey Sprite, which was known as the Arkley SS. The Arkley retained the main body tub, whilst both the front and rear ends were replaced with fibreglass items. The beauty of retaining the body tub was the fact that the doors, windscreen and factory soft tops/hard tops were retained. In addition no work had to be undertaken on the interior. The Basilic was a little more intricate than the Arkley as the conversion necessitated small modifications to the doors, including the addition of exterior hinges.
Legislation in Japan on specials/kit cars was strict. It was not possible to build a chassis/frame from scratch and most cars of the late '60s/early '70s were of unitary construction. In 1976 the Roadster was still a fairly recent product and good examples were fairly easy to find. It's separate chassis/frame was ideal for Mr Watanabe's needs. Indeed, conversion of both the 1600 and 2000 models was possible and, because the soft/hardtops and hardware were retained it was not important whether the donor car was a low windscreen or high windscreen model.
Elsewhere in the world, given the same set of circumstances, the Basilic could have been a success. In Japan, however, the increasingly strict legislation, linked to the motoring trends of the day, dictated that the Basilic would never succeed.
LOW & HIGH SCREEN VERSIONS - CHECK OUT THOSE BACK LIGHTS
Not surprisingly, only three Basilics were built, and amazingly all three survive. Mr Watanabe named them H, Y & W respectively. These letters were stitched into the interior door panels and on the rear panel separating the passenger compartment from the boot/trunk. The cars can be identified as follows:-
H - The British Racing Green coloured car is based on a 1967 2000 and retains the flat dash, original steering wheel and low screen. She does however feature the 1968-70 door fittings. The car has been reupholstered and has lost her stitched I.D. panels. The solex carbs feature two pancake type air cleaners.
Y - The Red car is based on a high screen 2000. Her original 'lettered' upholstery has been retained. To allow the bonnet to shut the original Solex air cleaner was reshaped. The car was last on display in a new car showroom in Japan.
W - The Orange car is again based on a high screen 2000. She too retains her 'lettered' upholstery. To accommodate the carbs a bonnet bulge was added.
All cars are based on the Fairlady SR311, feature Solex carbs, Dunlop wires and factory hard tops. Away from the main tub, the only external Datsun items to remain are the rear lights and the centre mounted reversing light. The quality of the panel fit and the finish of the panels is excellent, and the survival of all three cars is a tribute to their builder.
After the Basilic project, Mr Watanabe moved to the USA where his Company, Duo Power Inc. continued to make one-offs and fibreglass parts. Other examples of his work can be found on the KTUD archive.
Most roadster enthusiasts would probably be pleased that more Basilics were not built, on the basis that we would have less original survivors. However, the ingenuity of Mr Watanabe, linked to the quality and workmanship of these cars, ensure that the Basilic deserves a small part in Fairlady Roadster history.
Duo Power Inc-Flyer
Old Timer - Feb '94
Thanks also to Paul Negyesi of the KTUD Archive
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