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1970 Datsun 510 - The Rocky Road

The last Fifteen Years have taken Their toll on this 510.

Sean Klingelhoefer
Jan 6, 2012
Photographer: Henry Z. DeKuyper

There’s a lot I could say about a Datsun 510. I could refer to this car as a “dime”, then segue into a long-winded aside about how we got ripped off by never getting the Bluebird, or tell you about Peter Brock’s (BRE) championship winning 510s that changed America’s perception of Datsun as a brand. But, to be quite honest, you’ve probably heard it all before.

Sstp 1201 01+1970 datsun 510+cover Photo 2/14   |   1970 Datsun 510 - The Rocky Road

Here in SoCal, you can’t go to a car show without seeing at least one 510 and over the years we’ve seen a lot of them. We’ve also seen just about every custom engine swap you can think of, from SR20DETs to F20Cs to 13B rotaries. We’ve seen clean 510s, rat-rodded 510s, restored 510s and everything in between. They’re a proven platform that’s relatively easy to find, combined with state-of-the-art technology of its day and a strong community of owners the little Datsun has essentially become the Fisher Price “my first Japanese classic”, so to speak.

What I’m trying to get at here is that while we might have seen it all, these days it’s pretty rare that we see a 510 that really gets our blood pumping. When “Mistah Henly” brought back photos of this mint green gem there was something about it, something we couldn’t quite put our finger on, that was truly refreshing. It’s not the cleanest, the fastest or the craziest example we’ve ever seen. The beauty is, it’s not trying to be.

Sstp 1201 02+1970 datsun 510+side view Photo 3/14   |   1970 Datsun 510 - The Rocky Road

At first glance, I bet there are a lot of haters out there scratching their heads and thinking “my 510 is way cleaner than that piece, what’s so special about it anyway?” Surely we didn’t feature the car on its looks alone, a carbon-fiber hood and XXR wheels certainly aren’t the most rare of bits. But there’s something about the way that the paint is aged and scarred that has an allure that can’t be replicated for money. It’s proof that the car has been driven and enjoyed.

It’s a concept that is sadly foreign to most American car builders. We have a tendency to build something and park it for long durations, driving it seldom, if ever. The Japanese have a much different view, one that we at Super Street try our best to embrace with our own cars—drive your project as much as possible. The street/track blend of Hirano’s 510 makes it a car you could drive anywhere and however you want to. But that’s not all we like about it.

A lot of what we’re feeling on this Datto lies under its hood. As I mentioned earlier, seeing an SR20 in a 510 is nothing we haven’t seen before. However a naturally-aspirated Tomei-built 2.0L singing a song of 230whp is nothing short of astonishing. 230hp from 2 liters might sound simple to you Honda heads with your technologically-advanced K-Series engines, but getting that power from a SR is something amazing, the likes of which we’ve never heard of.

Sstp 1201 03+1970 datsun 510+rear view Photo 4/14   |   1970 Datsun 510 - The Rocky Road

But if there is anyone capable of building such a monster, it’s the boys at Tomei. They’re known around the world as one of the foremost power builders for all Japanese makes, but they have a special relationship with Nissan. To get the power up to this level the motor was stuffed with goodies like Nismo N2 cams, Tomei valvetrain and 12.5:1 pistons. To increase CFMs, the head was ported and Tomei had some “custom combustion chamber” modifications performed for good measure.

Spent gasses are taken care of via a custom N Tech Japan full titanium long-tube header and exhaust while breathing duties are carried out by a set of ITBs that have been decommissioned from their glory days in the Formula F4 series. A little tuning on the Tomei Reytek ECU and this SR20DE is churning out more than 70hp over the standard model. But as sick as that is, it’s the little things that really make us smile. Like how a power-robbing power steering setup was custom integrated off an S13 just to make the car a little easier to drive.

Sstp 1201 04+1970 datsun 510+gauge cluster Photo 5/14   |   1970 Datsun 510 - The Rocky Road

I could go on to bore you with more of the spec box, but I suggest you read it yourself if you’d like. I could try to explain how the Auto Meter gauges are actually considered very cool in Japan or how the redone Recaro LX seats perfectly match the interior but truth of the matter is, if you get it, you already understand. This is a car that will be appreciated by those who know, hated by those that don’t and misunderstood by the rest. This car is done just the way we like it.

Tuning Menu
1970 Datsun 510
Owner Akio Hirano
Location Fujisawa-shi, Kameino, Japan
Power 230hp @ 8000 RPM
Engine 2.0l naturally aspirated SR20DE; ported cylinder head; 12.5:1 pistons; NISMO N2 camshafts, fuel pump; Tomei H-beam rods, valve springs, valve cover; Formula F4 fuel rail and ITBs; Silvia turbo 440cc injectors, direct ignition system; MSD DIS-2 ignition box; Honda fuel pressure regulator; N Tech Japan one-off titanium exhaust and N2 style equal length header; HKS cam gears, valve lash killer; NGK racing spark plugs; custom 3-row radiator; oil cooler
Drivetrain Tomei full close-ratio 5-speed transmission; NISMO LSD and clutch
Engine Management Tomei Reytek ECU
Footwork Silk Road S13 front coilover with 9kg/mm springs; TRD rear shocks with Refresh 60 25kg/mm springs; ARC front sway bar; Refresh 60 bushings; Silvia rack and pinion power steering conversion; 11-point rollcage; spot welded chassis
Brakes Alcon 4-piston front calipers with 330mm rotors; Endless front brake pads; Ferrodo rear shoes; Earls stainless brake lines
Wheels & Tires 16X8" +0 Sport Max 002 wheels
Exterior Datsun Bros carbon hood; HID conversion
Interior Recaro LX front seats reupholstered; Pro-Comp speedometer, oil pressure, oil temp, water temp and fuel gauges; Autometer Monster tachometer; Prodrive steering wheel; tilt and telescopic steering column conversion;

By Sean Klingelhoefer
211 Articles



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