Super Street Network

 |   |   |  Datsun 510 Build - Project Nostalgia Part 1

Datsun 510 Build - Project Nostalgia Part 1

Breathing new life into a 40 year old classic

Scott Tsuneishi
Sep 3, 2014 SHARE

Buying a '70s car isn't as simple as firing up the computer and picking your favorite interior and exterior colors on automotive websites. Finding the right car, in this case a Datsun 510, involves commitment and knowledge of the vehicle, as well as knowing what you're getting yourself into. Think of it as building a full-scale model toy but with much more intricate parts. Small purchases are one thing, but spending thousands of dollars on a car that's over 40 years old is a risky proposition.

Datsun 510 build front end 02 Photo 2/40   |   Datsun 510 Build - Project Nostalgia Part 1

It's been almost six months since I purchased the Datsun 510, and have yet to find all the parts I need to restore it. This isn't a ride that you can simply order new parts for and call it a day. We're in it for the long haul and don't plan on settling on driving around a trendy rusted turd with "patina" paint, slammed to the ground with some wheels.

Datsun 510 build passenger side front quarter view 03 Photo 3/40   |   Datsun 510 Build - Project Nostalgia Part 1
Datsun 510 build wiring 04 Photo 4/40   |   Datsun 510 Build - Project Nostalgia Part 1

Within days of purchasing the car, we began stripping the machine as well as cleaning up the engine bay and stitch-welding the seams.

Datsun 510 build stitch welding 05 Photo 5/40   |   Datsun 510 Build - Project Nostalgia Part 1
Datsun 510 build coilover 06 Photo 6/40   |   Datsun 510 Build - Project Nostalgia Part 1

Suspension Upgrades

With just enough time for the engine bay to cool down from the stitch welding and grinding makeover, the Datsun 510 was hoisted on jackstands to begin upgrading the suspension. After purchasing a car with over 40-plus years of wear and tear on the chassis, including all the rubber bushings and components, it was a no-brainer that new parts to obtain proper suspension geometry were the key to maximizing our car's safety as well as improve handling. To address the issue, we used a custom Ground Control coilover setup as well as a number of Futo Fab performance components, including a set of front lower control arms (LCAs), adjustable TC rods, spherical control arm bushings, and rear camber/toe adjusters.

Datsun 510 build futo fab lower control arm 07 Photo 7/40   |   Datsun 510 Build - Project Nostalgia Part 1

Futo Fab

The Futo Fab adjustable LCAs are made of 6160-T3 billet aluminum and designed to replace the vehicle's factory stamped-steel control arms. Specially designed rod ends allow the user to adjust the front suspension's settings by turning the bolts to properly adjust the suspension and prevent premature and uneven tire wear. The key for this project is to improve handling for street driving as well as weekend track racing.

Datsun 510 build futo fab lower control arm 08 Photo 8/40   |   Datsun 510 Build - Project Nostalgia Part 1

We removed the OE rear crossmember and noticed the arm brackets were slotted by the previous owner to address camber issues. This mod is common among 510 owners, but we consider it merely a Band-Aid if performance and handling is to be achieved. And for that, we decided to weld up a set of Futo Fab rear camber/toe adjusters with adjustments of 1.5+/3- camber and 1-inch toe out/1.4-inch toe in. We also enlarged the exhaust hole to accommodate bigger piping.

Datsun 510 build futo fab rear camber toe adjuster 09 Photo 9/40   |   Datsun 510 Build - Project Nostalgia Part 1
Datsun 510 build futo fab rear camber toe adjuster 10 Photo 10/40   |   Datsun 510 Build - Project Nostalgia Part 1

Futo Fab recommends using the OE rubber bushings or spherical bushings with their kit, as polyurethane with any camber/toe adjustments will cause the bushings to bind. We carefully cut out the OE collars holding the bushings and chiseled them out.

Datsun 510 build OE collar cutting 11 Photo 11/40   |   Datsun 510 Build - Project Nostalgia Part 1
Datsun 510 build bushing 12 Photo 12/40   |   Datsun 510 Build - Project Nostalgia Part 1

The spherical bearings deliver increased NVH, but offer significant handling improvements. We adjusted both arms to the crossmember before Evasive Motorsports technician JJ TIG welded the collars into place.

Datsun 510 build TIG welding 13 Photo 13/40   |   Datsun 510 Build - Project Nostalgia Part 1

Ground Control

Ground Control is a name that has been long associated with the Import Tuner market but what many might not know is that they offer custom coilovers for Datsun models, namely the 510. Prior to contacting GC, we tossed our front strut assembly equipped with no-name coilovers and ancient OE brake calipers in the trash for a direct swap 280Z assembly with stronger spindles, larger brake calipers, and vented rotors. The rear drums were also chucked in favor of 280Z disc brakes.

Datsun 510 build 280Z coilover assembly 16 Photo 14/40   |   Datsun 510 Build - Project Nostalgia Part 1
Datsun 510 build 280Z vented rotor 17 Photo 15/40   |   Datsun 510 Build - Project Nostalgia Part 1

The GC coilover system comes equipped with a camber/caster plate design that allows the sliding mount to go under the stock sheetmetal. GC uses your existing strut assembly to transform into a high-performance coilover system.

Datsun 510 build camber caster plate 14 Photo 16/40   |   Datsun 510 Build - Project Nostalgia Part 1

GC offers customizing your vehicle's suspension setup and spring rates. Using Eibach Race Springs, 6061 aluminum adjuster sleeves, and gusseted strut support, these coilovers are proudly made in the United States. We went one step further and had GC powdercoat the setup in blue to match the car as well as powder the springs in silver. Although 375-pound coilover springs sound high, we took into consideration how heavy our motor would be in comparison to the factory L16 along with a very heavy six-speed trans.

Datsun 510 build coilover assembly 15 Photo 17/40   |   Datsun 510 Build - Project Nostalgia Part 1

Techno Toy Tuning

Deciding on whether to simply replace the steering rods for a set of OE units or upgrade to Techno Toy Tuning's steering outer tie rod kit was a no-brainer. The solid steel arm design with self-lubricating Teflon-lined rod ends provide greater deflection and are fully adjustable. Anyone who previously or currently owns a Datsun 510 knows that when it comes to handling, these cars need all the help they can get!

Datsun 510 build techno toy tuing steering outer tie rod kit 18 Photo 18/40   |   Datsun 510 Build - Project Nostalgia Part 1

Installing the steering kit required drilling the knuckles and control arm to 5/8 inch. A set of Techno Toy Tuning RCA's (roll center adjusters) was installed in anticipation of eliminating bumpsteer, a common occurrence associated with lowered cars.

Datsun 510 build techno toy tuning roll center adjuster 19 Photo 19/40   |   Datsun 510 Build - Project Nostalgia Part 1

Braking Upgrades

A trip to the junkyard landed a hard-to-find 15/16 master brake cylinder pulled from a 280ZX. This MC is vital when upgrading to front and rear disc brakes for any 510 and is a direct bolt-on.

Datsun 510 build brake master cylinder 20 Photo 20/40   |   Datsun 510 Build - Project Nostalgia Part 1

To increase braking performance, we purchased a pair of StopTech slotted/drilled front and rear rotors, Project Mu B Force brake pads, and a set of Goodridge stainless steel brake lines. The drilled design of the rotors helps dissipate heat while the slotted grooves clean the rotor and offer better bite and less brake fade.

Datsun 510 build StopTech brake rotor 21 Photo 21/40   |   Datsun 510 Build - Project Nostalgia Part 1

The Project Mu B Force brake pads offer the perfect balance of performance and streetability. These pads are ideal in providing good stopping power while emitting low dust and squeal properties, keeping rotor wear to a minimum.

Datsun 510 build project mu b force brake pads 22 Photo 22/40   |   Datsun 510 Build - Project Nostalgia Part 1

Kaaz Limited 1.5-Way Slip Differential

Upon purchasing the car, we were pleasantly surprised that it had already been equipped with a R200 long nose out of at 240Z. Unfortunately, it was a bittersweet moment as we rotated the wheel to find out it was an open-diff unit.

Datsun 510 build kaaz LSD 23 Photo 23/40   |   Datsun 510 Build - Project Nostalgia Part 1

Finding a CLSD (clutch limited-slip diff) in a 10mm gear bolt design is nearly impossible. To remedy the situation, we decided on purchasing a brand-new unit from Kaaz USA for a Nissan S13. The Super Q LSD 1.5-way unit comes with special clutch packs already prepared by WPC treatment for smooth engagement, improved heat dissipation, and longer wear life.

Datsun 510 build kaaz LSD 24 Photo 24/40   |   Datsun 510 Build - Project Nostalgia Part 1

Since our new diff was a 12mm gear bolt, a quick web search netted some special hard metal Teflon-lined collars from McFadden Dales. These collars were the perfect solution to insert into the new diff while using the 10mm ring gear and bolts. It should also be noted that both units have a spline count of 29 teeth.

Datsun 510 build clutch pack adjusting 25 Photo 25/40   |   Datsun 510 Build - Project Nostalgia Part 1

Kazz USA owner Ray Nakadate offered his assistance to help adjust the clutch packs to 80 percent locking. This was deemed necessary with our lightweight car, as 100 percent locking would be too aggressive for street driving and would do us more harm than good. Shingo Yugamii of Bluemoon Performance in Costa Mesa, CA, reassembled the unit and toleranced the setup to ensure proper ring-and-pinion backlash.

Datsun 510 build clutch pack adjusting 26 Photo 26/40   |   Datsun 510 Build - Project Nostalgia Part 1

Wolf Creek Racing CV Halfshaft Axle Kit

Wolf Creek Racing has specially designed a complete CV axle bolt-on kit to replace the OEM U-joint halfshafts. Designed for use with R160, R180, and R200 diffs in 510's, 610's, 240Z, 260Z, and 280Z's, these CV axle kits are a must if you want to avoid severe driveline vibration in a lowered 510. Each kit is comprised of Porsche-type high-performance CV joints, chromoly 'cages and hardened alloy races, and 4340 chromoly custom axles.

Datsun 510 build wolf creek racing CV halfshaft axle kit 27 Photo 27/40   |   Datsun 510 Build - Project Nostalgia Part 1

When you lower the 510 it causes the OE halfshaft U-joints to operate at a significant angle. This creates a fast/slow rotational pulse during the rotation of each joint. If the inner and outer U-joints do not have exactly equal and offsetting angles to phase out these rotational pulses, it creates a driveline vibration. The larger the angle at the U-joint the higher the rotational pulse becomes. In a severely lowered car, even the slightest difference in the offsetting U-joint angles will cause a driveline vibration. The only real way avoid to avoid this type of vibration is to convert to CV axles.

Datsun 510 build axles 28 Photo 28/40   |   Datsun 510 Build - Project Nostalgia Part 1
Datsun 510 build wolf creek racing CV halfshaft axle kit 29 Photo 29/40   |   Datsun 510 Build - Project Nostalgia Part 1

Futo Fab Reproduction Body Panels

As the Datsun 510 nears 46 years since its U.S. debut, finding good parts can become a daunting task. Until now, sourcing reproduction body panels meant having to settle for either used junkyard parts or fiberglass molds. Futo Fab recently debuted a number of steel body panels that offer exceptional fitment and OE appearance.

Datsun 510 build futo fab reproduction body panels 30 Photo 30/40   |   Datsun 510 Build Futo Fab Reproduction Body Panels 30

Our 510 was in desperate need of a front valence, since the previous owner decided to chop the piece to make room for an A/C core.

Datsun 510 build futo fab reproduction body panels 31 Photo 31/40   |   Datsun 510 Build - Project Nostalgia Part 1

The OE fenders are notorious for rust corrosion (as shown in the photo). The mounds of dirt trapped behind the fenderwell are the number-one cause of rust. Notice the cancer spots bubbling under the paint? That, my friends, is corrosion and the panel will need to be replaced.

Datsun 510 build corrosion 32 Photo 32/40   |   Datsun 510 Build - Project Nostalgia Part 1

A decent-looking junkyard find quickly reveals its ugly head once you flip the panel. A shoddy side marker light patch, some fiberglass cover-ups and body filler toward the bottom panel indicate a cover-up of the rust.

Datsun 510 build corroded panel 33 Photo 33/40   |   Datsun 510 Build - Project Nostalgia Part 1
Datsun 510 build corroded panel 34 Photo 34/40   |   Datsun 510 Build - Project Nostalgia Part 1

Unless you look carefully, you might notice only the slightest difference between the reproduction and OEM fenders. Dave Patten, owner of Futo Fab, mentioned that the biggest single difference was the thickness of the sheetmetal. The OE fender metal measured .029-inch thick, while the reproduction unit came in at .039-inch thick, roughly one-third thicker. The heavier gauge steel is not only more resilient to bumps and hits, but also more resilient to climactic weather conditions.

Datsun 510 build futo fab reproduction body panels 35 Photo 35/40   |   Datsun 510 Build - Project Nostalgia Part 1

Datsunland Socal Rubber Seals

There's no surprise that rubber seals get old, deteriorate, and shrink from sun/rain and UV damage. Our project car was no exception as the entire car's rubber including the trunk seals was so brittle they had to be removed in chunks. The front windshield was just as discouraging as we cut off the seal, only to notice that the underlying areas were bare metal that had rusted and pitted away.

Datsun 510 build trunk seals 36 Photo 36/40   |   Datsun 510 Build - Project Nostalgia Part 1
Datsun 510 build trunk seals 37 Photo 37/40   |   Datsun 510 Build - Project Nostalgia Part 1

Datsunland Socal is your one-stop shop for hard-to-find rubber window, trunk, door, and body seal replacement parts. Specializing in rubber window and weather seals for Datsuns, these remanufactured rubbers are backed by a limited lifetime guarantee.

Datsun 510 build datsunland socal weather seals 38 Photo 38/40   |   Datsun 510 Build - Project Nostalgia Part 1

From common replacement pieces, such as side marker time to the harder-to-find gas doorstoppers, Datsunland Socal's complete weather seal kit has it all.

Datsun 510 build datsunland socal side marker weather seal kit 39 Photo 39/40   |   Datsun 510 Build Datsunland Socal Side Marker Weather Seal Kit 39

Stay tuned for our next issue when we tackle some additional modifications including our engine build.

Datsun 510 build nissan engine 40 Photo 40/40   |   Datsun 510 Build - Project Nostalgia Part 1
SHARE ARTICLE

Sources

Mackin Industries
Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670
562-946-6820
http://www.mackinindustries.com
Techno Toy Tuning
Placerville, CA 95667
530-626-7334
http://www.technotoytuning.com
Evasive Motorsports
Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670
626-336-3400
http://www.evasivemotorsports.com
Design Craft Fabrication
Westminster, CA 92683
714- 884-6566
http://www.designcraftfab.com
Kaaz USA
Garden Grove, CA 92843
714-554-4333
http://www.kaazusa.com
Bluemoon Performance
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
www.bluemoonperformance.com
Ground Control
(530) 677-8600
www.ground-control-store.com
Datsunland Socal
Brea, CA 92821
714-393-0273
http://www.datsunlandsocal.com
Futo Fab
603-774-6964
http://www.futofab.com
Wolf Creek Racing
Culpeper, VA 22701
516-635-6775
http://www.wolfcreekracing.com
By Scott Tsuneishi
247 Articles

RELATED ARTICLES

BROWSE CARS BY MARKET

MORE HOW TO

We inherit a Subie project. Win!
Mike SabounchiNov 21, 2014
It's been quite awhile since I did an update on my personal project Scion FR-S. Since the carbon fiber article I've finally had time and money to spoil her.
Jofel TolosaOct 30, 2014
Getting the lowdown with air suspension and new wheels
Michael FebboOct 18, 2014
New parts and accessories for your driving life.
Sep 19, 2014
Fundamental parts guide for your FR-S/BRZ
Sep 12, 2014

SEARCH ARTICLES BY MAKE/MODEL

Search
TO TOP