Blue Violet: 1978 Datsun 510 Wagon

Here’s a crisp little wagon with a long, confusing set of names. Officially, at least in Canada and the US, it was known as a 1978 Datsun 510 Wagon. It’s located in beautiful, dry, warm (not bitter) Tucson, Arizona and it can be found on Craigslist, or here on the CL archive. The seller is asking $3,200 or offer for this slightly-modified, slighter hotter than factory wagon.

Thank you, Arizona, for preserving so many vehicles; at least rust-wise. This little wagon sure looks good from the three or so exterior photos that the seller has provided. I can hardly believe that it has 255,000 miles on it! You can see that the wheels are not bone-stock and there are a few engine modifications, and there’s no question that the Datsun 510 has to be one of the most heavily-modified cars of all time. It seems like most 510 owner have modified their cars so that seeing any of them in bone-stock form is a rarity these days. I always prefer things stock and then I can make my own modification choices, or not. It’s like buying a house with a bunch of super-personalized touches by and for the former owner, it’s a tough sell sometimes.

The Datsun 510 from this era, 1977-1981, was actually a Datsun A10 Stanza, or a Nissan Violet. The boxy Datsun 510 that most of us know was really a rebadged Datsun Bluebird but was known as the 510 in the US and Canada. They were around until 1973 in the US. Nissan wanted to do somewhat of a throwback-Thursday (is that still a thing?) and sell cars to nostalgic 510 lovers so they rebadged the A10 Violet/Stanza for a few years, this is one of those cars. It wasn’t really that simple, of course.

Noooo! There it is, the dreaded automatic transmission. A 5-speed, as is almost always the case, would make for a more valuable and a more-fun car to own and drive. But, that same 5-speed may have led this car down a dark path of heavy-modifications and street racing and being beat almost to death over the last 40 years. You can see that this car does not appear to be beat in any way. Other than that missing horn button, I don’t really see a flaw on the car inside or out. I believe that the seats may have been vinyl originally, but these fabric seats have to be more comfortable in that Tucson heat. And, aftermarket AC? It’s strange to not have any photos of the rear of the car or the rear storage compartment, I’d want to see something from those areas, and also a couple of underside pics.

Seeing a Weber carb conversion is fairly common on a lot of early Japanese vehicles. The seller says that this Nissan L20B 2.0L inline-four was “modified to “hot rod” it, removed the smog parts, air pump, etc, but still have the parts if buyer wants them. Will not pass emissions as modified.” This engine would have had around 97 hp when new, but with the modifications they most likely added a few more horsepower – maybe as much as the AC took away. Who knows, I doubt if the next owner will dyno this car to find out. This looks like a really nice, rust-free car that hasn’t been beat to death. Have any of you owned a 510 from this era?

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Comments

  1. Mark

    I really do not think a stick shift makes this worth more, a Porsche, vette or sporty car yes, but a Nissan or Toyota wagon , rather have an automatic, easier , everyone can drive in family, even grandma.

  2. rob

    Great looking little wagon and I love it. All the soccer moms should be driving these old wagons instead of huge SUVs that are not needed

    Like 1
    • Neal

      Looks like a great little wagon.
      I’ve had an 85 Subaru and a 94 Corolla way back when. Loved them and used them well.
      Now I’m on my third minivan (99 Odyssey, 07 Odyssey, and the latest our 2013 AWD Sienna).
      Soccer moms (and dads) should keep those minivans for safety, reliability, and versatility since they just can’t be beat. I haven’t made the jump to a mid or full size SUV even though I’ve wanted to for so many years in the interest of size and economy. But, when the kids are all gone I’d love to get a small wagon again.

  3. Gay Car Nut

    While some people might find $3,200 to be rather steep given its age, Given its condition, and tasteful modifications done to it, it’s not that expensive.

  4. angliagt angliagt Member

    “Posting Deleted”.These were fairly generic cars in the day.
    That said,I do love those wheels! PS/GT’s?

  5. chad

    Past time to bring back the compact thru mid sz wagons.

    (Wowo’s OK, don’t like Subie).
    (Big guys OK too, but ‘mini-vans’ have more head rm & can take a turtle top anyway).

  6. Mike Reese

    Brings back memories of my first, a 510 sedan, also a ’78. Wish I was in Tucson too! That carb mod is familiar, I did the same thing … had to put the old carb and smog stuff back on to pass emissions, but it wasn’t long after that, it had to go ..

  7. PeterK

    Take it out of Pima or Mariposa Counties in AZ and it will pass no problem,

  8. JimmyJ

    Why would you paint a car with green guts blue?

  9. sluggo

    Not as cool as a early 510 wagon, but still a great little car, not hard to do a 5 speed conversion either as Datsun/nissan stuff interchanges easily thru the years. I have had a number of earlier 510s and they are great to work on, Got a 72 510 wagon project currently…

  10. Gene S

    This brings back memories to me- my parents had a ’78 that was green. It had 4 speed (with AM radio!) and I learned stick on that 510. I somehow managed 50 mph on local, twisty roads near our house………

  11. Melvin Burwell

    These were and are great cars. Some were raced and abused. Nice to see one that was loved. Still too much $$ for me.

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