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 DatsunHistory.com. 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, DatsunHistory.com!). 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
PhiLOL actually likes the tuna here, but abhors structural rust. Save the manuals.