Trailhead Outtake: Datsun 510 (Violet A10) – A Cult Of One

This neo-510 has become one of the most enduring CCs in town. I’ve shot it a number of times, and I’m sure I posted it somewhere along the way, or not. But here it is, some ten years after I first saw it in a driveway, sitting at the trailhead where we start our ritual evening hike and swim. Is it ever going to stop?

Deciding to resurrect the 510 moniker for the replacement for the Datsun 710 in the US was doomed to make it a disappointment, as the original 510 was one of those cars that just can’t readily be replicated, in terms of its impact at the time. They should have called it the Stanza, as it was in Australia, and as its replacement would be.

Nevertheless, it certainly wasn’t a bad car, by a long shot. It was essentially a generic Japanese car, of the old RWD genre, a genre that was quickly running out of steam, thanks to the groundbreaking Honda Accord.

It was a simple and obviously a quite rugged car. Actually, it was essentially a 710 with a new body; same wheelbase, suspension (live rear axle) and same basic drive train. That included the now-venerable L20B SOHC 2.0L four, a direct development of the original 510’s 1.6 L four. It was still capable of showing some of that car’s lustiness, if dulled by emission controls and a heavier body. It was also a bit thrashy, as is the wont of so many larger four cylinder engines.

Obviously these neo-510s never developed any sort of following, unlike the cult of the original. But maybe there’s a cult of one, right here in Eugene.


Vintage Reviews: 1978 Datsun 710