Friday, January 9, 2015

5k: Hold Me Closer, Tinny Datsun: 1969 Datsun 510

At 2,200 pounds and 160 inches long (15 inches shorter than a 2015 Versa), the original 510 was not a substantial car. But it had a substantial impact. Simply constructed, with a stout four-cylinder powering the rear wheels, it offered budget-BMW 2002 fun while maintaining daily usability. Thanks to rust, most have dissolved away like Alka Seltzer in warm water. Surviving examples go under the gavel at high prices, or under the knife for high horsepower. So it's nice to see a healthy version (with the later L20B engine) for cheap. Find this 1969 Datsun 510 coupe two-door sedan for sale in Eugene, OR for $5,400 via craigslist.

The 2.0-liter L20B is the venerable four-cylinder unit offered in later 510s and other models. It was rated at 115 DIN (100 SAE) horsepower, with a nice usable torque curve over the stock 1.6-liter non-crossflow unit. 130 horsepower should be within reason with higher compression pistons and a good set of twin-choke carbs.

We don't get much information about this particular car, but are assured that it's complete with a black interior and has no major rust. 1969 is on the early side of the first generation's 5-year run, but late enough to benefit from all the mid-cycle changes: new tie rods, control arms, hood, lights, grill, pillar vents, and more, according to Instead of engine and interior shots, the seller orbited the car, taking exactly nine pictures from approximately the same distance.

Fun fact: there's only 770 millimeters between the taillights of a 510 (thanks,!). To illustrate my point, here's another picture of the back of the car.

There seems to be one of those tree air fresheners hanging from the rear-view mirror. This was not a factory option in 1969, although some dealerships reportedly used air freshening technology to mask the scent of motor oil and deceit. 

Oh shoot I already used this picture. Sorry about that - here's a completely different one. 

I can't help but notice how evenly spaced this 510 is between the lines. Really, that's an A+ job. You probably couldn't get that in a BMW.

See a better (mostly) original Japanese classic? Email us at

PhiLOL actually likes the tuna here, but abhors structural rust. Save the manuals.


  1. Looks like a nice and well-modified example (2.0L and 5-speed). The price is more than fair, if it proves to have as little rust as claimed. Be sure to check..... er...... well pretty much everywhere on these things.

    My 72 510 Wagon succumbed to rust at least twice in its long life. I learned a little about welding and a lot about pop rivets. Her final of defiance was when the steering box ripped almost completely off the subframe in 1984. I put her up for sale for whatever I could get. Amazingly the new owner drove it home, against my advice.

  2. It's not a Coupe. It's a 2dr sedan. The coupe had much more of a fast back look, still great price on a great classic.

    1. True. I think the true coupe body was specific to the SSS performance version.

      According to Wiki:

      "The 1969 KP510T two-door coupe version arrived in small numbers to right-hand-drive markets, predominantly Japan's domestic market, unsaddled by engine emission regulations. The 'K' prefix cars had a coupe-style swept roofline and shorter deck lid....... [with] either a 1.6L or a 1.8L (1973) L-Series engine."

      Of course a JDM 510 is a Bluebird.

  3. Nice find!
    Like the look and the price

  4. "Hold me closer, Tinny Datsun". Best story caption ever. But now that darned song is going to be in my head all day...

    1. Fleetwood T. BroughamJanuary 9, 2015 at 10:50 AM

      Everyone knows the real song lyrics are "Hold me close now Tony Danza".

    2. Great. Now I've got "hold me close now, Tony Danza" stuck in my head. Time for another lobotomy.

    3. Ye Highlands and ye Lowlands,
      Oh, where hae ye been?
      They hae slain the Earl o' Moray,
      And Lady Mondegreen.

      'scuse me, while i leave this here:

    4. @Kaibeezy: I was about to call the Funny Farm to have you picked up, then you saved yourself with the Wiki link. Thank you for providing yet another "Anorak Fact" that I can inflict on my friends. Well, ok maybe "former friends" is closer to the truth.

  5. I would recommend the E30 headlight modification because you can barely see the headlights on the highway.

  6. This is one of THE best enthusiast cars, ever. I drove a B110 wagon for a time (it was pretty darn good, for what it was) and also a B210 fastback (shudder - if only I could erase those memories). Never owned a 510, but I've had a chance to boot a couple of prepped cars around a track - fantastic! A great alternative to a Z car, though I'd rather have a SRL311 with a Comp pack, for sure...

  7. Miss my 69 those are newer fenders or newer side markers 69 side markers are very thin !

  8. Nice find at a good price if, as noted above, it is not seriously rusty. The front marker lights or fenders are wrong and the rear marker lights (red bulb covers) appear to be missing too. No mention of carbs on the L20b or which 5 -spd. Details to a 510 nut but they matter and help define the value. With a transplant motor, it sure would be nice to see an image. Someone grab it and have fun! I got mine about 15 miles from Eugene about 3 years ago now in an orange cream color.

  9. For personal historical reasons I'd prefer a four-door and for general performance reasons I'd prefer a mild SR20DE, but if you're buying off the rack this one looks pretty good.


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