It’s been a while since I’ve run into a Datsun 510, although I know there’s a couple of them still around. So here’s a chance to renew our loving feelings to one of the better things that Japan ever sent this way, even if the wagon had a solid rear axle.
The eager SOHC 1.6 L engine was as good as it got back then, backed by a slick-shifting transmission. The 510 became something of cult object almost from the get-go, and that accelerated in later years, until the cult become huge. Of course that’s now mostly played out, but there’s still plenty of 510 love to go around.
Just don’t end up with an automatic one, which blunted the fun very considerably. This orange ball looks ideal to optimize the shifting experience.
Yes, the back seat is tight, especially with today’s preferred laid-back front seat habit. But then these were quite small cars; much smaller than anything comparable sold today.
Keep on trespassing, little 510.
At first I wondered about the originality of the front seats, but the back seat removed all doubt. I had to laugh at that – my strongest association with Japanese car interiors of that period is unintentionally puckered vinyl.
I never got to experience one of these, but I think it would be everything I love in a small car.
It’s interesting to compare fuel economy, the Datsun 210 and 510 could do much better than many late model vehicles.
An old 510 would need to go downhill with a tailwind to get 30 mpg. As a random example, a new Nissan Altima–much bigger, roomier, faster, and more comfortable–geta significantly better gas mileage.
Will a 2018 Altima last +30 years in a road salt free environment? I think not.
The Altima will be much more reliable and durable, despite being more complicated.
I had one, and both my brothers had one too. Great cars. I paid $200, and used it as a ranch wagon. It went everywhere. I never titled it, and when i move to the city, it sat.
which i regret to this day.
About three weeks ago I helped a friend remove two 510 sedans from an Iowa farm grove. They are rough, no doubt but I think he can turn the two into one. The deal also included an ’78 Corolla sedan but that was too rusty and buried to move. Each car was $33.33.
It seemed like most of them were one of these blues.
A cautionary note: one moderate overheating would almost invariably warp the head and cause a headgasket leak. The head would thus require planing. Maintaining proper cam timing was a challenge during this whole experience. For those of us old timers who hadn’t experienced aluminum heads, but only knew all cast-iron engine construction, this was an unwelcome lesson in the fragility and fussiness of newer engines. Ask me how I know….. (it involved a 510 wagon, only green.)
There used to be a shim kit made to solve that. The shims went between the cam towers and the head. It would raise the cam back to the proper position.
Nice to see one long roof 510 still running .
In Los Angles they’re mostly hobby cars these days, no more beaters .
I know some young guys (30’s) who found nice original paint 510 coupes and stuffed V8 engines into them, wow do they go fast .
I didn’t pay any attention to these in their heyday and missed out =8-( .
I owned a 1971 2 door light green Automatic with Factory Air! I purchased it for $500.00 from a co-workers brother who drove a Z and never registered the 510, which his boss gave him as payment for work he did. How would I have ever known that it now has a cult like following? I really liked it , the drivers side floor had a decent size rust hole and when it rained my lower legs got dirty I was wearing suits and dresses. I fixed that with couple of pieces of old aluminum siding. What I didn’t like was the manual choke. Overall it was a great little car.
I’d love to check that out close and give it a drive.
I can’t recall ever seeing one in person, and certainly not the wagon.
The blue(s) and patina really works for it somehow as well.
Are those Celica wheels BTW? They remind me of a friend’s early 80s beater’s rims back in the day.
I lusted over these in the 1980s until I learned they didn’t get the IRS of the sedans.
These were a common sight in Ontario when I was a kid in the ‘70’s, and I don’t think I’ve seen one since. Once again, blame our heavily salted roads.
Drove the sedan around Sears Point back in 1973. At my favorite parts store, down the street from my office, an older counter guy drives a blue coupe for years to the store.
Back in the Days of my Love of my 280z,My Mechanic’ s Young Son had the Coupe Version of this,Puts 1.8 or 2.0 eng.in it,Souped it up a Tad & was like a 240 z Detuned..Miss Udo Kosche ,in Forest Park,So side of Atl.Best Indep.Datsun Mechanic there Ever Was in ATL.Retired,Now.Could take a Z CarApart & Put it back together almost Blind folded.His Oldest Son Has a 240z W/280eng.Headers & Triple Webers,+ Comp.headers,Exhaust & 280z Turbo rear end& Boyd Coddington 16 ” Wheels,W/ Fender Flares
It is really creepy to stumble across pictures of my car, especially the interior.
I had a 1980 510 wagon. Good car despite lousy emission control stuff. Oh and rust.
Anyone know what year this one is?
Not sure what year the featured one is but early 70’s (’70- ’73) of course.
Your 1980 510 wagon was a different vintage 510 than the feature…Datsun resurrected the 510 name in 1977 as the Violet which was different from the earlier 510s. I worked for Hertz in ’77 and ’78 and drove one of your vintage 510’s (though it was sedan, rather than wagon). I rather liked it, but the later 510s weren’t well regarded compared to the early 70’s ones; don’t feel too bad, my own car at the time was the prior version (initial version of the Violet), the 710, which I had from 1976 -1981. I sold it after hitting a patch of black ice in early ’81 (Jan) and hit guardrail rope. I had it fixed up but didn’t trust light car with RWD, so I replaced it with a ’78 VW Scirocco (haven’t owned anything but VWs in almost 41 years since). The 710 was otherwise a good car for me, a student at the time, though I do wish they came out with FWD a bit earlier (now I live away from the snowbelt, FWD has all but taken over cars). I commuted from Shelburne to Burlington VT, so wasn’t a long drive, the only issue I had with the 710 was it had a high idle, as an automatic, if the road was slick (which it was much of the year) I had to move the gear lever into neutral at stoplight till it warmed up, otherwise the rear would crab. Otherwise, it was really simple car to work on, kept me going through undergraduate days, only time it wouldn’t start was for a week during blizzard of ’78 since it was parked outside, had to bum a ride from my Father that week…one time alternator went bad, no big deal, and on an interview trip to MA a heater hose broke, but I was able to patch it good enough to get back until I could get replacement hose. Not fast or sporty, of course it did have lots of rust after 5 years up north, despite having Rusty Jones pretty soon after purchase. 710s were never common cars, nor were the later 510s but I like them, a bit bigger than the 210 but without the 6 cylinder in the 610 or Maxima, still an old school Datsun, though an original 510 would be sportier, it would likely have been rusted when I had the 710 up north.