The cars we loved.
Not many small imports from the 70’s inspire the performance minded like the Nissan Bluebird 510 (or Datsun 510 as it was known in America). This upright and rather boxy car was famous for it’s performance and was instrumental in fueling the growth of grass roots racing in a time before pimped out small cars became commonplace.
The 510 or some variation of it was offered in North America for sometime before it’s redesign in 1967. It was sold as a four-door sedan, five-door wagon and the most sought after variation, a two –door coupe.
The car’s rather homely appearance hid the fact that it was packed with (for the time) advance technology and clever engineering. While most small cars made due underpowered pushrod engines and leaf spring suspensions, the 510 offered a 1.6 L inline 4 with twin carburetors and a overhead cam. With power rating around 100 for some variations, it was a certified pocket rocket. The suspension was the key to it’s handling prowess with a curve hugging independent rear trailing arm design.
It wasn’t long before the 510 became the racing darling of the rally and SCCA circuit with wins by high profile drivers like Bob Sharp. 510 can still be found in many SCCA sanctioned events and at custom auto shows across the country due to it’s strong following amongst race and performance fans.
In many ways the 510 spawned the Nissan performance image in most of the world, inspiring the Bluebird line of cars that lead to everything from Stanza’s to Z cars.