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Museum Quality Original: 1972 Datsun 510


You’ve heard the phrase “museum quality” before, but this one defines that more than most. This 1972 Datsun 510 is on eBay with a current bid of $10,000 and the reserve isn’t met. It’s located in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada so there will be a little more paperwork than usual involved if you live in a country other than Canada.


Some (most?) of you may be wondering who in their right mind would care about this car, let alone refer to it as museum quality? These were throwaway cars, etc.. we’ve heard it all before. Well, unless you’re just now waking from a Rip-Van-Winkle-like slumber for the first time in a half-dozen years, than you know about the vintage Japanese car market being red hot and probably the top of the pile is the Datsun 510. This car could be so much more if it had two fewer doors, but even so, I’m sure that it’ll be at  least a $15,000-$20,000 car in this condition.


This car has 29,058 original miles, most of them put on before 1980. The second owner was a collector who only put on 300 miles since they bought the car in 2010. Here’s a short walk-through video on YouTube showing the incredible condition of this car.


This is probably nicest original 510 interior that I’ve ever seen. The dash is perfect as are the seats and everything else. And, the best part: this car has a 4-speed manual! This was originally an AC car but apparently the compressor is missing.


This is Datsun’s 1.6L inline-four with 96 hp, a pretty zippy engine for a one-ton car, especially with a 4-speed manual to mess with. This car has had a full service and supposedly starts instantly and is rattle-free. It does have a new carb and a new exhaust and it’s definitely ready to go, go, go! I wish that it was going into our garage but this one will definitely be priced out of my fun-car range. Have any of you owned a 510 before? What do you think the price will be here, $15,000? More?


  1. Howard A Member

    I had a friend in the late ’70’s that had this exact car. Me and her and another guy took it to Florida one winter. I remember it being economical, but sorely needed a 5 speed, as it buzzed at 65. Aside from the IRS, it really wasn’t much of a car. Thin doors, very uncomfortable seats, and not much room and basic inside. Still, the 510 has reached a cult like status, not sure why. I always thought of Toyota having a nicer car, and this was the cheaper of the 2. Great find, serious rusters. These didn’t stay like this in the mid-west very long. Oh, btw, be careful of those holes in the wheel covers. They are razor sharp. ( found that out the hard way)

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  2. Rocko

    Wow! Never thought id see one again. I had one of these , it was burnt orange but had a slush box. I once broke a right rear independant suspension driveshaft u-joint and managed to continue driving by having the girl friend put it in drive while i held it up to the wheel. I then dropped her off and continued on to work but never made it! I managed to put it in place myself but it would only stay in place while in reverse, so i drove reverse a bit till it popped out then hitchiked the rest of the way. I called a friend who raced these and had him drop off a spare driveshaft for twenty bucks. Installed it that night after work , it was around 1am ,i remember the cops driving by asking me what i was doing under the car . The four door was more desirable than the 2 door for racing strenght .

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    • al8apex

      few people understand the torsional strength the 4 door has over the 2 door.

      Thanks for posting

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  3. David Wilk Member

    Cool car. Good story about the 510s as racers here: http://www.supercars.net/blog/1971-datsun-510-trans/
    Nice find, Scotty.

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  4. Terry

    Probably over $15k. BAT auction for one of these with some fiberglass repair brought over $30k.

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  5. al8apex

    waiting for the habitual “too many doors” commenters … give it a rest, either enjoy it or keep quiet …

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  6. A1A Bear

    I had that exact car, same as Rocko…. Orange 4 door. I worked at a gas station in my teen years, and my(soon to be) ’72 510 came in for service. The lady who owned it, did not want to pay for the repairs after the car was fixed. “TOO expensive”, she said. So she just gave the car to the station owner. I payed the bill that was owed on it….$175 or so in 1985, and she was mine! Drove that car for 12 months, all up and down the east coast until I destroyed the clutch. I left for college and my family gave the car away…..Loved my 510.

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  7. Ken Nelson Member

    Around 1970 when I moved to Delaware, Alderman Datsun was selling the 510 and other models. George Alderman raced a 510 on the E. coast and did pretty well with that IRS. Before that, I’d only seen a Fair Lady in Salt Lake Utah, and thought it was a perfect replacement for MGs and other Brit cars, and it was.

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  8. Bosse J.

    I owned the larger version with 1800 cc engine. Don´t know your model number for that. I boght after a couple of BMW:s in -72 and drowe for + 38.000 kms after that I got sick of the sight of it and sold to a friend who drove it up to 426.000 kms when it was hit by a bus from behind.
    a fablolous car which neede minor service costs. Compared to the BMW 1800-2000, it was a much better car, better road-holding.
    I really miss my Datsun 1800. It served well over so many years.
    This post is from Sweden!!

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  9. Doug Towsley

    I have had a number of 510s. Currently have a wagon I got for a good deal at a local garage sale. Had wagons before and 2 dr and 4dr sedans. Wagons are popular now and I found it odd the 4drs are as well. Local nickel-dime club members say its because there is no perf penalty and easier to transport people and kids.
    At one time I had a BMW 2002 and I jacked both cars up and crawled around underneath. Almost identical. 510s have a lot of performance history and potential and Datsun was great about parts interchange so easy to upgrade from other cars. Common to swap in Discs and 5 speeds or bigger motors from other Nissan-Datsuns. 5 speeds are the way to go. Will include 2 pix of my last sedan. Sold it 15 years ago but when I found the wagon I have now I couldnt resist another. The sedan was abandoned on the side of the freeway nearby and a Police sticker on it. Had a friend run the registration. The owners had sold it and new buyers never retitled or reregistered. I put the fear of Police,DMV, and Storage-tow fees into them and they happily signed over the papers. Towed it home that day. I work on a lot of cars and got to work, Drove it for a while, Then took a week off from the day job and tried to redo the whole car. Took longer but upgraded motor, trans, and paint and body. I added side skirts and air dam and some swap meet mag wheels. Drove it for years as my cheap gas mileage machine. When done I had less than $1000 into it. Drove it for 10 years and sold it for $2500. GREAT CARS!

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  10. Doug Towsley

    Sorry for grainy pix, Here is one from when I got it home. The interim owners had rattle canned a zebra pattern. the other side was mostly the original Orange. I had seen a 240SX race car and liked the paint job and saved a photo of it. I copied part of the idea. I later saw them at another race at PIR and showed them pix of my car. They loved it. The funny thing was the race cars owner son had seen a cool layout on a RC toy car and wanted his dad to copy it. Then I copied their car. I do a lot of Body and paint and often buy mistakes or overstock at a discount at the paint store. I went with a teal green on the front and a black with pearl on the back, I used green pinstripping tape in a spider web over the black and then clear coated over that.
    *I* Thought it was cool and had a neat car for well under $1000 doing all my own work. However many people thought it was juvenile and a kids car. I also got pulled over by the police a lot and the usual response was they expected a teenager which pissed me off. I admit I am in my 50s now but i STILL refuse to grow up. But hopefully my story inspires others to go turn wrenches and build something cool. My car is more of a “Barn Find” than a dealer flipping a car on Feebay but I admit this car featured sure is a cream puff. Dont care for the color though. But I have shelves of paint and could remedy that easily.

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  11. David Miraglia

    Always preferred Datsun’s over Toyota’s back then. They were nicer looking and cuter than the cookie cutter Toyota’s.

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  12. Sebastian Hill

    Beautiful car… wish I had the space or $$$ to add it to my collection. I will be keeping an eye on this one as I have a 1973 510 two-door w/54k original miles that is also a “Museum” car that belonged to my good friend that passed away. (http://fivetensforsale.blogspot.com/p/for-sale-1973-datsun-510-museum-quality.html)

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  13. JerryS

    Had some friends that ran these in the Press On Reguardless Rally. Wrecked 2 yrs in a row. They wanted to sell me their race engine when they moved up to a 240Z.

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  14. Rocko

    Had an uncle who had one the first year they came out and he thought he was some fancy rally racing driver , he used to drive my grandparents everywhere in it , i thought it was funny when my grandma complained that he got ticketed for driving with his fog lights on !

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  15. Mike Reese

    Nice! I had a ’78 510.

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  16. Horse Radish

    Our first car. Had some fun with it, and inadvertently tested the longevity of the engine without coolant. Bought it for $200 running and driving and still sold it for more after it quit

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  17. John b

    I have same year and color but in the pick-up truck. I hope to start restoration…..some time in this lifetime

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  18. Skey

    My grandfather bought me one just like the one pictured to get back and forth to high school. (Same color and everything) what used to bug me was the carpet was not glued to the floor in the back. When my friends got in they would wrinkle it. Drove me nuts. Hence the coment “don’t ———- up the carpet ! Ended up trading it for a triumph tr 6. Upgrade 😎

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