CC Capsule: 1970 Datsun 510 Wagon – Staying True

As far as I know, cars have no will of their own. Whether a car remains ‘true’ to its original self is not up to its non-existent desires, but rather to mere chance. And finding a survivor, fairly recognizable as it used to be 50 years after, is always a gratifying sensation.

In the case of legendary models like the 510, an unmolested one can be more surprising. With its lively engine and handling, most have been turned into mini racers. Rare is the one that remains as a plain family vehicle, the way it used to be out of the dealer’s gate.

Not that I should complain much. Without such devotion, most remaining 510s would have succumbed long ago. The more the better in my book; even if unnecessary plastic surgeries are involved.

The customized fate of most 510s isn’t shared by the station wagon version; less likely to suffer the mods the ‘racing sort’ prefers. Not that 510 wagons are completely safe from the tuner crowd, as it’s been documented at CC previously.

In any case, what seals the fate of many wagons -like any other car- is wear and rust. A reality that previous CC posts have also documented with 510 wagons.

So, I was rather pleased when this old 510 wagon appeared in San Salvador, looking fairly straight and unmolested; though not quite pristine. I know it isn’t 100% stock, but considering the odd mods Salvadorians put their vehicles through, fairly intact is an achievement. It’s got no weird headlights, stickers, spoilers, or wheel flares.

There are a few concessions, granted: the tinted windows, the window shades, and the roof rack. All are rather minor, and most are the result of El Salvador’s hot and sunny weather. Yet, it could all be discarded if one wished to revert this 510 to its original condition. About which, the wagon could be a ’70-’72 model, with the side markers being one of the few clues suggesting so.

At least when it comes to El Salvador, old wagons seem to survive at higher rates than sedans. It seems their owners just enjoy their size and functionality too much and do their best to hold on to them. While showroom condition is beyond their capacities, they cherish and maintain them as well as they can.

In my imagination, I like to think this 510 chose its current fate, staying as close as possible to its true self. I know that’s not the case; but whoever its owner is, has respected this 510’s original calling as much as possible in these lands.


Further reading:

Curbside Classic:  Datsun 510 (Bluebird/1600) – Learning To Fly

Vintage R&T Test: 1968 Datsun 510 – A Legend Is Born