HomePick of the DayClean 1971 Datsun 510 modified for style and performance

Clean 1971 Datsun 510 modified for style and performance


When the Datsun 510 arrived in 1968, it was something of a revelation for U.S. drivers, an inexpensive Japanese car that offered drivability comparable to European sports sedans, such as the popular BMW 2002, and could be made into a competitive race-track performer without breaking the bank.

By the early 1970s, 510s were established with racing successes, most notably winning the under-2.5-liter Trans Am championship in 1971 and 1972 wearing the iconic red-white-and-blue livery of Brock Racing Enterprises.

The 510 was set apart among Japanese compacts by independent rear suspension

Offered as 2-door and 4-door sedans, as well as stations wagons, the 510 helped Datsun gain a solid foothold among American drivers, and they sold like crazy.  Unfortunately, they were prone to rust out and survival was spotty outside of warmer, drier parts of the country.

The Pick of the Day is an unusually nice 1971 Datsun 510 2-door sedan with performance upgrades, including a 1.8-liter L18 inline-4 with a pair of SU carburetors and a 5-speed gearbox from a 280ZX.

The interior looks clean and purposeful

“Modifications include custom flares, ARE wheels, ’78 200SX front struts and brakes, Tokico shocks all the way around, adjustable rear crossmember, polyurethane bushings, front/rear sway bar, Geo Storm GSi seats, arm rest from an E12 BMW 5- series (and a) Momo race wheel,” according to the private seller in Walnut, California, advertising the Datsun on ClassicCars.com.

Sounds like a good recipe for a modified 510 that will uphold its reputation on track or street. The 2-door looks clean and sporty, with a rich blue paint job accented by thick white racing stripes and a sparkling engine compartment.

An OHC 1.8-liter inline-4 replaces the original 1.6 -liter engine

Among Japanese tuners, this Datsun stands out for its gleaming presentation and improvements that better button down the suspension of the rear-wheel-drive compact with independent rear suspension.  The look is striking, and well in keeping with 510s of the period, and the car appears to be ready to drive and enjoy.

The asking price for the Datsun seems ambitious at $35,000, which is higher than Hagerty value guide’s top figure for a perfect concours example. However, the seller “will listen to serious offers,” the ad says.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

Bob Golfen
Bob Golfen
Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.


  1. That’s a very (Nice) car and was one of the most popular car in country,my son at that time just one like this in light blue color,cool!

  2. Had a 510, fixed up some. Bought it after we saw the BREs flying up the back straight at Watkins Glen . For a new teacher, it was a lot of fun for the money. Bought a 240 Z in 73 and still have it . Maybe some day we will bring it out, but two Morgans take up a lot of time.

  3. This was my 510 that I built around 1995 and sold on Bring a Trailer in April of 2018. I believe the guy selling it here ended up getting $29k for it.


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