Saturday, June 6, 2015

5k: Bentecono Box: 1972 Datsun 510 4 Door

The Datsun 510 (known as the Bluebird outside the US & Canada) was a compact Japanese sedan with econobox roots, but a surprisingly sporty attitude.  The combination of low curb weight, decent engine, stiff chassis (relatively speaking), and rear wheel drive was an instant recipe for fun.  Find this 1972 Datsun 510 4 Door offered for $8,500 in Fremont, CA via craigslist. Tip from Gianni. 

Often accused of being the poor man's version of the BMW 2002, they were built by the boatload, rusted instantly when exposed to moisture, and languished in a price range that put them just inches from the crusher for decades.  Times changed, people wised up, and the little boxy sedan became a classic with prices that reflect its popularity.

Under the hood is the original  L16 inline four -- a 1.6L non-crossflow OHC tractor chugger that made 92 hp when brand new.  All sorts of engines get swapped into these things on a daily basis, but it is nice to see the original iron in place.

Of course you'll want your 510 to have a manual gearbox, not only will it return better fuel economy, better acceleration, but it is the best way to have fun in a sub 100 hp vehicle.

 See another classic piece of imported steel for less?


  1. Original paint and that straight, original, undiddled dash with the AC thing underneath is probably worth $8500 to a true nickel-dime aficionado.

    Slammed suspension with the '50s-kustom-wannabe whitewalls isn't encouraging.

    Still, if I were in a position to consider a 510 for a nice SR20DE swap (no T, just a nicely-built atmo 180HP) swap, it'd probably be worth spending the money to get the solid tin and nice interior.

  2. Had a 510 wagon "back in the day". Loved it. You forgot to mention the other reason that the 510 sedan was so capable: independent rear suspension.

    Worked on many 510s, through into the 1980s. Everything you said about rust is true. At one point, I remember pulling a drive train from a scrap 510 with the engine hoist, without even bothering to disconnect the motor mounts. Everything just ripped out (we were building a "Pony Stock" 610 for the four-cylinder class at our local speedway).

    I like the look of that orange 510 wagon in the background of the last photo...

  3. Replies
    1. Amen brother! I think you're preachin' to the choir round here


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