It's unfortunate that you'll never be able to preserve a car's life unless you leave it garaged and un-driven or spend hours restoring the damn thing from the ground up. For those of us who take on the daily driven or beat-to-hell path, we will devote countless hours and sacrifice our sanity (and whatever bank funds are required) to complete a "job well done." And as each year passes and new cars flood the market, the resources to save an old car from extinction become harder to come by.
Take the much sought after Datsun 510; what a great piece of automotive genius. Originally it was outfitted with a 96hp carbureted L-series engine, but the 510 appealed to so many enthusiasts because the car was simple to work on, reliable and great to modify because of its interchangeability of parts from other Datsun models. This eventually led to real custom engine conversions; rotaries became a popular conversion and the continual rise and use of the SR20DE/T make the 510 a very popular old school car to build.
Luis Hernandez is a proud supporter of the 510, having owned several with his father back in his home country of El Salvador. He found that these cars had just as popular a following after moving to Los Angeles, so what better way to carry on the family tradition of tuning 510s than with this silver coupe? But like all 510 enthusiasts, Luis had trouble tracking down parts and had to custom fabricate some parts to work. Luckily, he built enough of a network to help find the rare pieces he needed and went the new school route of bolting in a SR20DET with a fast spooling T25 HKS turbo. Unlike the 240s, where a SR drops in naturally, Luis made it look like it was a factory install by using custom piping for the blow-off valve, intercooler and air intake. It uses the standard SR gearbox but it now employs a stronger clutch and a lightened flywheel from F1 Racing for faster pickup. A limited slip differential from a R200 Nissan 300ZX is also being used to improve traction and the engine has been tuned to put out 300whp and 280lb-ft at 18psi.
A good majority of the 510s we see in California are either primered, weathered or redone with a classic paint-but not Luis'. His is a mash-up of colors, a sort of new school twist with the two-tone paint and the carbon front lip spoiler. The 510 sports taillights from the Japanese Bluebird and the front headlights are retrofitted to use HID Xenon bulbs. Those are some OG Watanabe wheels as well-tiny at that, sizing up at a mere 14x7 and 7.5-inches. The brakes may not be screaming big ass calipers but that's only because they're Maxima fronts and 280ZX Turbo rear brakes. Luis and his brother Mario lowered the 510 with Ground Control coilover sleeves that were matched to Tokico shocks. Swaybars from the Aussie version 510 were bolted to the undercarriage and a front strut bar intended for a '82 Maxima helps to take the flex out of the shock towers.
For the most part, Luis' 510 interior is clean, a simple reminder that one not need a rollcage and multicolored accessories to boost its look. The old school Recaros retain a classic feel, but the Autometer gauges custom mounted to the old dash and center console locations are signs that the old just can't keep up with the new. There are really light audio upgrades in the form of an Alpine head unit, three Kenwood amps and Kenwood speakers. Luis also added in a steering wheel, shift knob and pedals from MOMO then mounted a HKS turbo timer to the top of the steering column. We especially liked that he was able to source brand new replacement pieces, like the door panels, carpet and dashboard.
Luis' dedication to the preservation of the 510 may not stop the rare Japanese coupe from becoming extinct, but it will slow the process for another few more years. Perhaps his kids will follow suit, using improved technology to better it for future generations.
'73 Datsun 510
Owner Luis Hernandez
Hometown El Salvador,San Salvador
Daily Grind Quality control for post-production company
Under The Hood '93 Nissan SR20DET 2.0L engine; HKS T25 turbo, turbo manifold, Super Mega Flow, 550cc fuel injectors, intercooler and exhaust; Walbro 255 fuel pump; GReddy blow-off valve; Denso iridium spark plugs; ported stock intake manifold; SX fuel pressure regulator; Toy radiator
Drivetrain F1 Racing clutch and flywheel; Nissan 300ZX LSD (R-200)
Power 300 whp and 280 lb-ft at 18psi
Brains reflashed ECU; HKS turbo timer
Stiff Stuff Ground Control coilover sleeves and camber plates; Tokico shocks; front/rear sway bars; Nissan Maxima strut bar; front control rods; bump steer spacers
Stoppers Nissan Maxima front brakes/Nissan 280ZX Turbo rear brakes
Rollers 14x7 and 14x7.5 Watanabe wheels; Falken Azenis 195/55R14 tires
Outside front carbon-fiber lip; HID Xenon head lights; Japanese Bluebird taillights; paint and bodywork by Lico's Body Works; graphics by Chorombo's Graphics; front Japanese grille
Inside Recaro seats; new original carpet, door panels and dashboard; Autometer tach, oil pressure, boost and speedometer; MOMO steering wheel, shift knob and pedals
Ice Alpine CDA-7893 head unit; three Kenwood KAC-848 amplifiers and speakers; Monster Cable wiring
Props Thanks to God for letting me finish this car and to my wife, Letty, for all of her support; to my brother, Mario, for the help on all of my projects; my kids: Luigy, Brian and Vanessa; my dad, Lico, mom and my sister; Oscar Perez (Chorombo); my good friends Jose Santos, Irvin, Luis, Carlos, Jose Villanueva, Pete Bolanos, Milton and Johnny-these are the friends who helped me find parts to build this car
WWW alpine-usa.com; falkentire.com; greddy.com;groundcontrol.com; hksusa.com; kenwoodusa.com;momo.com; recaro.com