Worth Fixing? Field Find 1969 Datsun 510

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Nissan entered the U.S. market in 1958 but wouldn’t get much traction until well into the 1960s. One of the cars that put them on the map was the Datsun 510, a small econobox that was known as the Bluebird on its home turf. This ’69 510 has been sitting for years and both time and Mother Nature have exacted their toll. It’s going to take a lot of time and money to right this ship again, so is an early non-Z Datsun worth the investment? The car can be found in Buford, Georgia, and is available here on Facebook Marketplace where the asking price is $5,500 OBO. Our thanks to Tobey Morison for the tip.

If you showed up at your local Datsun dealer between 1968 and 1973, you might have seen a 510 2-door sedan just like the seller’s automobile. Nissan learned from the Germans and engineered these cars well enough that they would see some success on the rally circuit. That may be due in part to the 510s using a 1.6-liter inline-4 that produced 96 hp and could top 100 mph with a 4-speed manual. The seller’s edition has an automatic transmission which would likely have slowed it down a bit. But the 20-30 mpg fuel economy the cars delivered was right for the energy crisis that was just around the corner.

We assume the seller’s car has been left outside for ages, perhaps resting on the trailer where it’s pictured. He/she says that it’s been cleaned up a bit, although we’re not sure that helped much. It once had tan paint, and we suspect rust will be found in lots of places. The windshield is missing which would have contributed to the interior deteriorating as it has. The passenger compartment is said to be black in color, but not anymore.

From the condition of the car as pictured, is this a viable restoration project or would it better serve as a parts car? The seller added the “or best offer” tag to the price of the Datsun, so what would be your idea of a fair amount to propose?

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  1. HoA Howard AMember

    The poor persons 2002. Had a friend with one in the mid-70s, a 4 door, and was a so-so car. It’s claim to fame was the rear IRS and gas mileage, but other than that it was an awful car. Poor seats, poor heat, thin doors and rust like a battleship, and sorely needed a 5 speed, but that was most small cars of the time. It took a while, but it was cars like this that cemented Datsun/Nissan as a household name still today. Where these excelled, was at the track. I remember 510s cleaning up on everyone. That motor could put out some hp, and light, and handled like a go-cart. That’s about all it’s good for here if anyone still does that. Neat find.

    Like 8
    • John

      But, it beat the 2002 and the Alfa Romeo 2 years straight in the Under 2.5 liter Trans Am Challenge with smaller displacement engine than both! So……it goes to show, Euro engineering is not always what it is touted as! And Alfa had to cheat with an illegal gas tank to boot!

      Like 7
    • jwaltb

      “ A so-so, awful car. But excelled on the track” Howard, that makes no sense!

      Like 2
      • HoA Howard AMember

        I can’t make it any clearer than that. Compared to what most people were trading in, in a panic mode, it was no Caprice. I thought the 510s replacement, the B210 was a much nicer car for the masses. By then, Asian econoboxes were here to stay.

        Like 0
    • Rw

      Very strong rear axle shafts if remember correct also 28 plus mpg.

      Like 0
  2. EuromotoMember

    “Nissan learned from the Germans and engineered these cars well enough that they would see some success on the rally circuit.” Russ, I think you need to do a little more homework here. Some clues: BRE, John Morton.

    Like 6
    • Jimbosidecar

      The “Poor man’s BMW” was pretty successful on race tracks in the hands of Morton, Newman, and Sharp

      Like 3
    • Scott

      Battista “Pinin” Farina

      Like 0
  3. Nevada1/2rack NevadahalfrackMember

    1) Find a wrecked G35/370Z.
    2) Attach the 510.
    But really, folks…the trailer and the car are worth about the same: $50. The Challenger sitting behind it I’ll bet is in the same condition.

    Rust & rats = replacement.

    Like 7
  4. bobhess bobhessMember

    The 510s weren’t the greatest street cars around but they sure shined as race cars. They were still hot in the late 90s when a friend and I built one to run in SCCA’s ITC class. Ran first or second every time we raced for almost 4 years. Fun cars. Not sure this car would hold up as a race car without major money being spent.

    Like 5
    • Derek

      2-door, so a reasonable starting point. Decimal point needs to move left a couple of places, though.

      Like 3
  5. John EderMember

    This almost makes the rust repair required on my Cortina GT Estate look like no big deal…

    Like 3
  6. Karl


    Like 3
  7. Steve

    Worth Fixing? NO!

    Like 5
    • Johnny s

      These little 510s are going up in value. Quite a bit. I say $5500 is a little high for this condition. I picked up a rotted out; Animal destroyed interior 510. For around $1000. There are rollers selling for $4k.

      If you get a title I say $3k is about market value.

      Like 1
  8. George Birth

    $5,500 for a nonrunning 69 Datsun 510? Ha Ha !!! I’d be a player at $55.00

    Like 6
  9. Walter

    Seller will get his money or pretty close to it. As noted already, this marque had considerable success on a variety of race courses and is something of a “holy grail” to the tuners of today, especially in its coupe form. Drivetrain will be replaced and body replaced or repaired.

    Like 4
  10. Dennis Bailey

    The ad says auto, but shifter looks manual.

    Like 2
  11. Scott

    I just bought a very nicely restored 510 sedan manual that is all original condition with a repaint for $6000. Straight no rust . Straight on from 20 feet it looks like a show car. The interior has been redone as well. If someone buys this to restore they are losing pocketfuls of money. But that how we learn valuable lessons.

    Like 3
    • ratsun

      a restored Datsun 510 for $6k? I can’t believe you

      Like 3
  12. bill tebbutt

    I disagree with a few posters here. The 510 was an excellent street car, and yes it certainly responded to a bit of tuning. They were/are dead nuts tough – I beat on mine as hard as possible as a teenager, and I just couldn’t kill the thing the 5 years I had it. Even traded it flat for a 1971 Camaro which I fixed up and made a little coin on, then bought the 510 back I missed it so much.

    This one? I’d pass, there are better 510s out there for not much more as noted above.

    Fun fact (which I only just learned recently!): the 2 and 4 door versions are the exact same body. The 4 door uses a shorter front door in addition to the extra door. You can actually convert a 4 door to a 2 door with 2 new doors and the proper 2-door side window!

    Like 5
  13. JMB#7

    All Datsun 510’s are worth saving!

    Like 5
  14. rustylink

    its good parts car – enough of a community to have a parts and know how network. I doubt it has a title. – these field finds seldom do and it’s not worth the work to get a title on this shell.

    Like 0
  15. bone

    ” we suspect rust will be found in lots of places” ?? Ya think ? Where isnt there rust ? These cars rusted terribly in the salt belt and few survive – this one looks like its been sitting in a southern junkyard for decades

    Like 0
  16. NovaTom

    My first car was a ’69 510 custom painted to look like a BRE. That thing was one tough little car – took all the abuse this dumb teenager could dish out.

    Like 1
  17. Troy

    Because the windshield is missing and who knows how long its been sitting open to the weather I’m going to say no its not worth fixing but its probably worth the asking price in parts the 510 has a cult following and they were fun little cars

    Like 0
  18. Eric

    I have never understood the popularity of these cars but they are and have been for years. They’ve also always commanded top dollar it seems. My Grandparents friend had one and she would come out to notes on the car asking to buy it in the 80’s and hers was pretty banged up. This one is too far gone to restore but it looks like the perfect one to turn into a race car. I have no doubt the seller will get what they are asking.

    Like 1
  19. FOG

    The 510 has a loyal following. The price for this project to get started should be much lower, say $2K to sell. Rotisserie builds are easy on these.

    Like 1
  20. David Mildenberger

    I had a 69′ 510 for years. The engine was based on german design like BMW 1600 with the independent suspension. So, kind of Euro engineering. I remember mine being extremely reliable no matter how hard I thrashed it. And super easy to work on. I had over 250,000 miles on it before I sold it to a kid who had it for a week when he got T’boned and destroyed it.

    Like 1
  21. Mario

    Growing up in Los Angeles in the 70s these were cool little street racers when tuned right. And if you can find someone willing to part with theirs for a reasonable price.

    Now, anything with “Datsun” on the fender will have a cult following. The average price of a Nissan Datsun 510 is $24,888 depending on the condition of the car.

    Too far away for me to do anything worthwhile with it, but someone closer to it can bring it back to usability..

    But if done right, it would be hard to lose money on this one. Good luck to the new owner.

    Like 1
  22. Kelly Breen

    My first car was a 71 510. I really liked it and it handled very well, but it disintegrated right in front of me despite using every rust inhibitor known to man at the time.
    The engine ran like new even though the floor fell out of the car.

    Like 1

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