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Pictures Worth A Lot of Words: Datsun 510

1971 Nissan 510

I complain frequently about the number and quality of photos we see in classic car ads. Just because the car is covered in dust and dirty doesn’t mean clear pictures aren’t appreciated, especially when deciding to bid on a car that’s too far away to practically visit for an inspection. This four-door automatic Datsun 510 isn’t the most desirable collector car, but the seller has gone to great pains to take numerous clear pictures to help with your evaluation. You can find the pictures where the car is listed here on eBay with bidding opening at $200 with a reserve. The car hasn’t been on the road since 1986, but the engine turns over freely and the car has obviously been stored inside. There’s some relatively minor rust, but nothing of major concern. I don’t really mind the 4-door configuration, but I’m not a fan of the automatic at all. But, I personally would not convert the car to a manual; this is too clean a survivor to modify in my opinion. But I’m interested in your opinion; if you had the car, would you put a manual transmission in?


  1. Avatar photo Horse Radish

    I hope you were kidding on the quality of THESE photos.
    To me they are about a five on a scale to ten with 1 being with the lens cap on and 2 taken in the dark.
    Looking at these , made me remember my brother and mine first car, a 4door Datsun 510, just like this, 30 years ago.
    The grungy look makes me remember the ‘hefty’ smell from deteriorating cardboard and plastic.
    And that was 30 years ago in dry Los Angeles.
    I don’t want to know what this one here is like, 3 decades later and in humid Oklahoma.
    We drove that thing with a friend, who thought it was cool, ’til it overheated and quit, then still sold it for more than we paid for it.
    We didn’t know any better ’til we bought our first Mercedes right afterwards, (a 1958 220S).

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    • Avatar photo Jamie Staff

      Actually, no, I wasn’t kidding. Compared to the vast majority of unrestored car listings out there, this is great! Now if someone has a restored classic and is looking for $50k, yes, I have a different standard. But I’m tired of two smartphone 3/4 shots with no closeups of anything just because the car is dirty or the seller can’t take the time to do better.

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  2. Avatar photo Don Barzini

    Swapping an automatic for a manual transmission seems rather harmless compared to a paint color change.

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  3. Avatar photo Al

    Had a 510 Wagon, ran it all over Colorado no problems.

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  4. Avatar photo jim s

    anyone know how hard/costly it is to convert to manual trans? i see race car. ITB maybe, if they still have that class. nice find

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  5. Avatar photo Tim H

    Making a 510 automatic fun to drive while leaving it as an automatic is way harder then converting it to a stick shift. The automatics of that era were not sporty. I have not played with 510’s for 20 years so I don’t know what the availability of parts is. Mine was a wagon with a L20B, twin side drafts and a Z 5 speed and I really liked the overdrive.

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  6. Avatar photo David Member

    There’s also this 510 barn find, also an automatic, but a 2 door car. It’s a 2 owner car with only 44,000 miles. http://seattle.craigslist.org/see/cto/5030372114.html
    The pictures look really nice to me. They even have a picture of the rust free underside. BUT they want $12,500. Yes there’s an extra zero there.

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  7. Avatar photo Rex Kahrs Member

    I’m with Horse Radish, the photos are nothing to crow about. Back seat photo? Undercarriage? Headliner?

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  8. Avatar photo Teach35

    Had one of these. My wife used it for real estate work. 350,000 miles when we got rid of it, and still no rust here in the rust belt state (PA). It was a standard. I might add, the standard transmission was sought after for replacement for MG Midgets.

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  9. Avatar photo Ross W. Lovell

    Greetings All,

    Had a 510 wagon when I was in my 20’s. Actually was a great car once the gearshift bushings were replaced. Power to weight ratio was really good as I remember.
    Bumpers were crap, rear ones suffered from the way exhaust routed and a trip to my favorite boneyard found at least 3 other 510’s with the same problem.
    My solution was to walk around the boneyard with my tape measure until a found a bumper from something else that didn’t look out of place on the 510 and that I could get off easily. Ended up with something off a Renault, think it was polished aluminum with rubber over riders.
    Ended getting doing valves and seals, the lower end was fine. Car stumbled every now and then, bought a Weber and an hour later………………very happy and really understood why the IMSA guys liked that engine.
    Traded the car to my welder for some welding he finished on my E-Type. He loved it.
    Didn’t have a lot of issues with the interior, just fading carpets, no wearing spots. Perfect car for camping or the beach, plus mileage was pretty good compared to other cars of the era.
    Would’ve liked a 5 speed version.
    Foreign cars spoiled me as it was years until I found out that most American cars did not have hydraulically actuated clutches at that time.

    Like 0

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