Three Empty Boxes: 1972 Datsun 510

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The classic “three-box” design of the 510 has endless modification possibilities. This 1972 Datsun 510 consists of three empty boxes, as in it’s a blank slate with no drivetrain and basically no interior. This car can be found on eBay in Oklahoma and it was sent in by Barn Finds fan, Jim S. For $200, you can’t go wrong here.

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It almost looks like a gasser in these photos with the front end raised like it’s ready to lay down a quarter-mile time. And, it could be a gasser if you choose to turn it into one. It’s almost like a Bob Ross painting, “It’s your world”, this car is waiting for you to restore it back to stock or turn it into your custom creation.

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The Datsun 510 may be one of the most-modified cars out there today, which makes original examples even more rare. You know what I would do here, I would restore this car back to original spec, but I know that I’m in the vast minority on that. About 114,000 of these cars were exported in 1972 and if there are even 1,400 left in stock condition I’d be very, very surprised.

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A couple of hours here and you’ll be in business! Ok, let’s move on.. er.. wait a minute. Yes, this car will need new floors and a new trunk floor. I’m guessing that it was sitting on the ground for a decade or two. At least there aren’t any seats in here to be filled with mouse “debris”. The good news is that for about $300 and a weekend you’ll be ready to find some carpet, and seats, etc..  I mean, it’s only money, we all know that there are more important things in life. All kinds of parts are available.

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Here’s a very important box that’ll need some help. I know that you’re not going to source a 100 hp 1.6L four-cylinder to put back in here, you’re going to go crazy so you can party like it’s 1999. This car is a great project, you will never lose money on a Datsun 510, even in this condition. How would you restore these three empty boxes?


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  1. JamestownMike

    It would be worth fixing IF it wasn’t soooo RUSTY and incomplete!

  2. Cody

    Nice Prince reference at the end. Seems everyone is getting them in.

    This car is what it looks like when doves cry.

    • Scotty G Staff

      Nice catch, Cody. Being from Minnesota, and a huge fan, I couldn’t resist.

      • Rich

        My wife would rather I spend the money on Diamonds & Pearls.

    • Little_Cars Alexander Member

      Where exactly was the Prince reference? I don’t see it in the listing or Barn Finds narrative. Could it have been removed? I’ve heard a lot of Prince stuff gets trolled online by his sycophants even in death. RIP Prince Rogers Nelson.

      • Rotag999

        Crazy and party like it’s 1999

  3. Schwag

    It would be kind of fun to fix up, though getting it back to stock condition would be too expensive. Replace the rusty floors, a DYI paint job, install the interior of your choice, throw in an SR20DET mated to a 5-speed manual, a set of Panasports and perhaps some choice JDM lighting bits and call it a day.

  4. hhaleblian

    I think I’m turning Japanese. I really think so.

    • Rotag999

      The Vapors

  5. Ralph Terhune

    I would restore it to the crusher….to me this would be a waste of time, energy, resources and money. There are American classics more deserving of a restoration than this foreign crap.

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