In Japan, the 510 was called the Bluebird. That's fitting as today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe 510 is blue, but will its condition and price make you want to flip the seller the bird?
As their development was relatively concurrent, Datsun's Bluebird family haulers and the 240Z sports car shared a certain amount of corporate DNA. The Z Car's 2,393-cc L24 six is derivative of, and shares bore centers with, the 510's L-series four cylinder motors. The back ends of both cars (except for the 510 wagon) are independently sprung - although the similarities end there as the Z has A-arms and chapman struts while the sedan is a simpler trailing arm design. Despite that last disparity, both cars were successfully campaigned by Pete Brock's BRE racing team, and the BRE 510 - piloted by John Morton - owned the 2.5 TransAm series.
Where the cars most significantly diverged was in form and function, as well as in production numbers. The Z was a relatively limited-production sports car with a very sexy design, and a singular focus on getting its owner laid. The 510, on the other hand, was a boxy, utilitarian design that was intended to appeal to the former Z owners who had failed to use a condom.
How strange then that the 510 today seems to be as - or maybe even more - desirable than its sporting contemporary.
Many a 510 has gone to the crusher, and despite production numbers in the hundreds of thousands, there just aren't a lot out on the roads these days. But rarity has never stopped us, and we've found a dime for you to judge. This 1972 510 Two-Door is lightly molested and rocks an Earl of Sheib paint job. Outside, it goes commando as the blade bumpers have been removed, possibly so that Earl didn't blue's clues them too. The seller claims that he'll reattach the bumpers prior to handing over the car, but it'd still be nice to know what they look like. Under the paint, the driver's side looks straight, but the passenger's is kind of wavy gravy, and there's a nasty dent under the side marker light there.
Other than that, there's not much going on, but then these cars weren't all festooned with trim to begin with. The C-pillar vents, window trim and light frames in back have all been painted black here, but that probably looks better than the pock-marked chrome they likely used to be. The wheels will be familiar if you've spent much time in Pep Boys, and they and the tires look to be about a size too small despite the car having been dropped.
Inside the austerity measures don't extend to the seats as the vinyl fetishist's dream seats have been replaced with a set of lounges that are just Supra, thanks for asking! That's the extent of the extravagance however, as facing the driver is another Pep Boys special - a Grant steering wheel - and behind that, a bit of tuck and roll on the dash cover that makes it look like it's channelling its inner Tijuana Taxi.
In '72, the 510 came with a sturdy and sporty 1,595-cc, 96-pony, L16 OHC four. The seller of this car claims that it comes with a 100-hp L20B, however since I can't tell the difference between the various L-series fours we might want to go with what's been written on the air cleaner, which says it's an L18. Whatever, they're all within a few ponies of one another and their Mercedes-aping design is both rugged and simple. This blue bird also flies via an upgraded five-speed (please, for the love of dog, don't comment that it's an automatic!) although shifting might be a bitch without a knob on there. Maybe Pep Boys was out of stock of those? The Brothers Pep may also have been out of loom wrap as the under-hood wiring here has a bad case of bed head and could stand to be tidied up. Other than that, the open road-breather shouldn't be an issue unless your state has a visual inspection for cars this old. And lastly, how nice is it that the HT leads are color coordinated to the car?
So this is a dime that's had a lot of low budget love thrown its way. With the exception of replacing the seats should the Toyota parts not be to your liking, there's nothing too taxing to either toolbox or wallet here. And with a claim of only 68,723 miles on the car (not in the ad, but the seller is very responsive to emails!), it looks like a pretty solid base for whatever direction you might want to take it.
Of course the determiner of whether or not you would take it in any direction is price, and in this 510's case that is $3,300. A cursory glance around the 510 forums and elsewhere indicates that you can pay less for one of these, but most of those 510s are either non-running, or look like something that dropped out of a dead dog's ass. So what do you think? Does $3,300 for this 510 make it the bluebird of happiness? Or, does that make the seller a blue meanie?
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