Car Beat: These old Datsuns are like Legos

Whenever I see a cool car around the neighborhood, I take pictures and send them to my pal Eric up in Portland who runs Other People’s Things, my favorite car blog. He responds with some knowledge and we post the results here and it’s called “Car Beat.” Here’s what Eric has to say about this little Datsun:

This is an easy one but certainly a classic. It’s a Datsun 510 Coupe (1968-73, this is probably ’70-73). The 510 is legendary for a few reasons- It made Datsun officially popular in the US, much like its direct competition, the 1600, did for BMW.

The 510 was also much cheaper than its competitors. It was considered the cheap alternative (some say copy) of the BMW, but the styling is quite different, and what the 510 lacks in prestige and beauty it makes up for in performance. These old Datsuns are like legos, and you can swap all sorts of Datsun/Nissan motors and transmissions into them, which is advised for this one since that little badge on the trunk reveals it’s stuck with the Borg-Warner automatic transmission.

Sucks the life right out of it, but I can respect that it has been kept in original condition.

Thanks, Eric!

10 Responses to “Car Beat: These old Datsuns are like Legos”

  1. Derek says:

    I can’t help but be a pedantic Datsun nerd here. This 510 is technically a 2-door sedan. The 510 (aka Bluebird) coupe was a Japan only model and can be spotted by it’s sloping rear window.

    He’s right about the Legos though — my 510 has upgraded parts from no fewer six other models in it, spread across the motor, transmission, brakes, struts and differential.

    • ABW says:


      This is awesome and why I love the Internets – there is someone ready to correct you when refer to 30 year-old 2 door sedan as a coupe.

  2. Andy says:

    Love old Datsuns. One of my favorite things about Other People’s Things (aside from his knowledge of the actual cars of course) is the way he always seems to get great pictures. I’m always seeing awesome cars but (maybe this is more common in SF) they’re often parked in weird spots and/or light is awful so I can’t get a good picture.

  3. OPT says:

    @ Dereck-

    Thanks for the correction! I don’t claim to be an expert on Datsuns (I owned a ’69 BMW 1600 after all).
    I was wrong on my Subaru post today as well. Love when a true expert can chime in.

    @ Andy-

    I think Portland is a bit more sparsley “parked,” at least at the times or areas I am shooting in. I agree on the lighting though, always a challenge!

  4. emo sanders says:


  5. Michael says:

    This is my car! It’s a 1970.

  6. Loved my 72 says:

    In 81 I had a 72 510. I drove the heck out of it. My favorite maneuver was a power slide down the long gravel road to my house. It was the poor man’s 2002 I paid 750 for it. 30 years on I have a 3 series. Same idea, small, good mileage and fun to drive.

  7. LibertyHiller says:

    Drove a Datsun 210 (aka B310) for a couple of years at the turn of the millennium, courtesy of a now-ex-GF who didn’t want to get rid of it because she couldn’t afford a better car. She hated driving as well, so I put a couple grand into making the old beast safe for freeway driving. It was the ugliest car in the office parking lot for two years and more.

    I sorta miss it, even today.