The Cult of Cars, Racing and Everything That Moves You.
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1971 Datsun 510

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Welcome to Down On The Street, where we admire old vehicles found parked on the streets of the Island That Rust Forgot: Alameda, California. Today we're going to check out one of my all-time favorite Japanese cars, the one that started the whole hot-rodded Japanese machinery thing here in the US of A: Datsun 510! Sometimes I get asked whether irate car owners come running after me with a shotgun when they see me shooting their cars, but my experience with this Datsun was more typical; the owner came out to see what was going on, was glad that someone appreciated his car, and opened the hood and trunk so I could get better photos.


It's funny that the car known as the "Poor Man's BMW 2002" is now worth more than a 2002. In 1971, you could buy a brand-new 2002 for $3,275… or a Datsun 510 for $1,990. Both cars had IRS, disc brakes, etc., but the BMW had the power edge, with 114 horses versus 96. With the money the Datsun buyer saved, however, another 50 horsepower could be added, with enough left over to buy better wheels. Many did, and that's why almost all of the 510s have been hooned to death by now.


The original carbureted L16 is long gone, replaced by what appears to be a fuel-injected L20. I neglected to ask the owner what junkyard donor provided this powerplant, so you Nissan aficionados will have to help ID it for us.

I'm glad we finally have a 510 for Down On The Street, not least because Alameda is in the 510 area code. We've had a 411 and a 610, but the once-common 510 is a rarity these days.

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