The headline says it all: the 510 was irreplaceable.
Over an Hour Later& Still No Comments.Sunday Is A Working Day Here So I Keep Forgetting That It’s God’s day Over there.We Used To Get 710s Here As 200K.That L20 Motor Lasts Longer Than Persian Carpets.
This was my first car, I had it through my whole undergraduate studies in Vermont.
My car was a 4 door automatic (haven’t owned an automatic since I sold it in 1981) with white vinyl seats (colorful interior!) unfortunately with brown carpet (in a car with a bright blue exterior…guessing the brown carpets came with all color cars. It was a good first car and very old-school, I learned to do tune-ups and other work on it; it was parked outdoors and the only time it didn’t start was a week during the blizzard of ’78 (probably exactly 40 years ago!) when I had to bum a ride into school from my Father.
It had an issue with high idle speed when cold, such that I got in the habit of putting it into neutral at a stop light when cold to keep the rear end from sliding out due to low friction. I told my sister this before she borrowed my car to go to her job but of course she forgot about it and I had to pick her up in my Parent’s car.
Only other non-externally induced problems were that it burst a heater hose when I was travelling to Massachusetts for a job interview. It had Rusty Jones treatment when new but still rusted (mostly the cow-catcher bumpers). I ended up pushing in the front end after hitting some black ice just outside White River Junction on a Friday evening trip up to visit my Parents after I got my first job (in Massacusetts). I got it fixed up but sold it partly because I wanted to get a FWD car for better traction, and partly because that FWD car was a VW Scirocco (still my favorite car of all that I’ve owned). At the time I sold it, gas was high and small cars were selling well so I had no trouble selling it despite questionable test drives where trim fell off the car during the drive (due to rust issue) but the buyer didn’t seem to mind, it was easy to sell (maybe this experience colored my tendency to sell my own car, having never traded a car in….guess this also is because I’ve only bought 1 new car so far).
It wasn’t a particularly fun car, but it was reliable at a time I needed a reliable car. Guess they weren’t very popular even when new, I saw more wagons than any other style, the 2 door coupe (vs the 2 door sedan shown in this test) was particularly rare. I added a set of aftermarket gauges to mine, as well as mudflaps, but otherwise left it alone.
Between the 240Z, the 510, and the Datsun pickup, I thought that Datsun had a pretty good shot at ruling the American automotive scene in the early 70’s. In my neck of the woods at least (Pittsburg, PA), Datsuns were everywhere, and at one point nearly as common as VWs while Toyotas were still not that common or desirable as they hadn’t yet built their reputation.
Then Datsun just sort of melted away… in all senses of the word. The cars rusted faster than anything which was saying something…. the designs got fat and ugly -Honeybee anyone?- and then despite all the name recognition built up with
“Datsun nice car you got there” advertising, they decided to become Nissan.
There’s a book in that story, I think.
This car gets few comments because it evokes few comments.
It was sturdy, reliable, reasonably economical, all the kinds of descriptors used for an appliance. By contrast, the Toyota Corona was thought of as being almost “European looking”.
One of the few good things you can say about these Datsuns is that they weren’t as wild and far out looking as the cars Datsun would sell in the late 70s through the 80s.
It was around this time that Datsun was losing its mojo, and it wouldn’t begin to recover it for another decade or so. An odd little point about the ’74 710 is that the coupe had a front bumper with turned-up ends while the other models had a straight-across bumper. Neither works well stylistically.
When the 5mph front bumper regulation was phased in, it didn’t get applied to all cars at the same time. Cars that were produced in small numbers and coupes/2 door hardtops were the last models to be required to have stronger bumpers. One reason why many American cars had those huge bumpers in 73 while small, foreign cars like the Porsche 914 had two blocks of rubber added to their 72 model bumpers.
First of all apologies if this is a duplicate. The first attempt sat for hours on “Waiting” and appears to have gotten lost in the ether.
The cockroach of the 1970’s still getting no respect. Another car that I am intimately familiar with in a gearhead sort of way. Not creepy or weird trust me. After doing three collision repairs on one back in the 90’s, long after the scrapyards were clear of them and with no support whatsoever from the aftermarket, I came to appreciate the curvy shape of these cars. Working in the driveway under a big maple tree with a port-a-power, a set of torches, hammer and dollies straightening a crumpled front end will do that. Lucky only the right front corner took the brunt of the collision is what I was thinking. Until a few months later when a taxi backed into the left front corner while it was parked on the street and pulled a runner. Third time’s a charm when a drunk driver creased the entire left side of the car while again parked on the street. Six other cars were damaged as well.
That was the second consecutive 710 in the family it was a 75 two door sedan. B pillar with flip out rear windows and battering ram bumpers. The first one was a ’74 hard top. No b-pillars and the back windows rolled down too. The roof line was lower than the sedans and it had the small bumpers tucked up tight to the body which really improves the appearance. Decades later I regret sending that one to the boneyard. It was pulled off the road on a 10 day repair order. I had all the parts to repair it and make it “safe” yet I was unwilling to do the work for free. Mechanically the car was fine it just had rotted out wheel arches in the rear, sunburnt paint and a few blotches of primer. Surprisingly enough I still have the wheel arch repair panels and a set of rocker panels for a 710.
Mehanically the two 710s were very solid. In typical Nissan fashion the ’74s shared the same front brake calipers and pads as the 510 and the ’75s were different. That is only once the ’74 only parts ran out and they began installing the ’75 and later brakes. sheesh what a pain it was sourcing parts for that ’75.
The 75 would take us on an epic road trip from Hamilton ON to Mexico City in December of 1993 where we ran the gauntlet that is mexican traffic for a month before returning safely with no issues whatsoever.
The 75 is gone now for at least a dozen years. If I could find another solid one locally I would snap it up right away. “Solid one locally” is the only thing keeping me from having one more project.
They were just throw away econoboxes with no endearing qualities whatsoever. Contrary to what most people think, they are not “good on gas” by today’s standard anyway. They are not even in the same league as the 510 yet I have a soft spot for these as well.
There it is just above my post. A picture of the small bumper hardtop. Cool.
I am based in Beirut LEBANON. I have small collection of american and other vintage cars. as this topic about 70s Datsun being a compact I bought 81 AMC Concord DL coupe blue exterior with light blue velvet interior 2.5 4cylinder engine, Factory AC, factory AMFM, rear defrost has 50K original miles. most of my classic cars are larger I appreciate any views of my Concord compared other compacts of era such this Datsun.
I have not owned a Concord, but have owned a Hornet which is a less luxurious version of the same car, and also owned a Datsun 510. You can’t really compare them directly. The Datsun was a smaller and lighter car with a small (by American standards) OHC 4-cylinder engine, considered a subcompact at the time. Hornet/Concord weighed about 1000 pounds more and was designed to be powered by sixes and V8s, though later on a largish pushrod 4 was also offered. The cars had completely different characters.
The Datsun was a lot more fun to drive, came with more standard equipment, and was more advanced engineering-wise. (Though the 710 profiled here did unfortunately lose the 510’s independent rear suspension.) However Hornet/Concord was more in line with traditional mainstream American tastes of the day, particularly amongst older adults.
Really, the cars to directly compare the Concord to would be other American compacts of the 1970s and early 1980s like Nova, Maverick, Valiant, etc.
Unlike the 510, nobody was going to smother their affection, leave their wife, or take out a home equity loan to buy a 710. As another poster mentioned, they were disposable cars that did their duty well enough and then rusted to dust. I recall driving a couple, and they really didn’t leave much of an impression on me.
Not that this is a bad thing. Here on the salt free West Coast these old Datsuns ran for a good thirty year before they finally disappeared. They were mechanically very solid cars, and the SOHC engine was about as reliable as a Slant Six. A 710 would drive you to the supermarket for a couple of decades without much bother.
I wonder how much of the 510’s long-held aura and current classic status is owed to the fact it was so much better in almost every way to the model that replaced it?
The 510 was just an amazing car all around particularly at the price point that it sold at. Datsun never was able to recapture that old magic, not even with the 2nd-gen 510 which was just an ordinary dull-as-dishwater subcompact. Too bad they didn’t have better rustproofing. (A fault shared by many cars of the era.)
I second that, i owned a 1969 510 totally amazing car. the BMW of it’s time.
Datsun seemed on top of the world in the early 70s … and totally lost the plot ten years later. Cars like this one were responsible. I wouldn’t mind one today but a lame duck of its time.
Had the station wagon, purchased new. It was great car. Engine provided good power delivery (for the era) with the 4 speed manual transmission. Reliable and practical. Was more engaging to drive than a modern small SUV. Wouldn’t mind having this car again.
Wagonizing the 710 probably washed away a lot of the “worse-than-the-510ness”; you weren’t losing the IRS since the 510 had always had a live axle in wagon form, you weren’t losing rear headroom because the roof slope by definition didn’t start until well past the rear seats, and you got a lot more glass than in the 710 sedans and coupes.
The problem with the 710 was twofold. It ditched the independent rear suspension, and it was based on the JDM Violet series, which was a step below the Bluebird/510. The US 610 was actually the continuation of the Bluebird series, but Datsun decided to load them up and charge more. Adding insult to injury, there were Violets with IRS (the SSS models, for super sport sedan), but here again, Datsun saw no need to send over these versions, completely missing the whole point as to why people responded so well to the 510 in large part.
The degree to which the 710 Violet looks like the by then several-year-old Mazda Capella/RX-2 — and to a slightly lesser extent the original Mitsubishi Colt Galant — is sort of disconcerting. It’s like realizing someone’s kid looks suspiciously like their two coworkers who both mysteriously disappeared midway through the company holiday part a few years earlier.
I happen to like the original Capella and Galant, which were pleasant-looking designs, but I have to wonder if Japanese buyers found the Violet a little dated by 1973–74.
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