Perhaps drawn by the 510 gods that brought John Morton’s BRE racer all the way from Nashville, this year’s JCCS had a surprisingly plentiful turnout of Nissan’s OG sports sedan. While Nissan’s racer was one of the biggest hits of the show, parked there alongside its modern counterparts in a pair of R35 GT-R GT3 cars, many privately owned examples shined for their own reasons.
For anyone steeped in 510 lore, the car needs no introduction. Its win during the 1971-72 Trans-Am 2.5 Challenge seasons was a significant milestone marking the turning point at which dominance from the European marques was shattered. The efforts by Peter Brock, John Morton and the rest of the BRE team made history when they defeated Alfa Romeo, Triumph, and BMW.
We were honored to have one of those men, BRE engineer John Knepp, signing autographs at the JNC booth. Fans from all corners of the country brought toys, model cars, and car parts for him to sign.
One of the most moving displays was Randy York’s 1973 yellow 2-door sedan, cleaned up and brought to the show by Sebastian Hill and his long-time 510 friends. If you don’t know Randy’s story, John Roper explained it all in a 2008 JNC story republished earlier this year. The car is currently seeking a good home in a museum or similar institution that would like to display a bone-stock, mint 510.
Joshua Leach’s 510 Bluebird Deluxe is a genuine RHD sedan from the motherland. Though we’ve seen it several times at various shows, we love its minimalist, no-fuss exterior and the retention of its JDM-ness, even with its not-sold-here L14 engine. It’s like something you could easily see roaming the streets of Japan.
We also admired the cleanliness of Oscar Castaneda’s 1970 sedan. Though it hides an SR20DET under the hood you’d never know it except for the hi-beam intake. What’s most amazing about it is that Oscar says the car is a junkyard rescue, proving that hard work can still bring a car back from the brink and you don’t need big bucks to create a work of art.
Patrick Soloman’s 1972 2-door sedan caught our eye due to its bumperless racer look with skinny Shadow Spokes that tuck nicely under the fenders for an old school hot rod appeal. The intercooler peeking out from the valance reveals an SR20DET hiding underhood.
Fred Flores’s 1970 2-door sedan also sported an SR20DET under straight, de-badged exterior finished in a dark metallic green. Matching Hayashi 504s on non-stretched tires gave it a real mean street fighter look.
With all the SR-powered cars we were starting to wonder if they were OEM equipment on 510s. Eduardo Luna’s super-clean 1972 sedan offered a different approach: a NAPS-Z 2.4-liter four-cylinder from a Hardbody pickup or first-gen Pathfinder. It was also refreshing to see a set of flush-face classic Enkei 92s completing the old school USDM look. Though some may see it as a blank slate, we think it’s perfect the way it is.
Jimmy Davis’s 1971 wagon was a jaw-droppingly clean survivor with original Cactus Green paint. Lowered on sakuras and equipped with an RX-7 rear diff, it garnered third place in the Best 510 category.
Another favorite of ours was John Williams’s 1971 wagon, which you may remember once having a Radio Flyer theme, but these days it’s sporting the look of the Hot Wheels Datsun 510 from 2014, complete with blue JNC inkan and homage to Mattel designer Jun Imai’s famed wagon.
Nelson Irwin’s 510 1971 wagon was also running 2.4-liter power, but the twin-cam KA24DE from a 1995 Nissan 240SX. Mated with the front suspension from a 280ZX, it’s the perfect SoCal surf wagon.
Chuck Tomasello’s rare 1969 2-door was also under 2.4-liter power. As you may have guessed from the door stencil, Chuck runs a business called Left Coast Datsun that puts on a Datsun swap meet in Long Beach, California.
Last but not least was our friend Daniel Silva’s 1971 wagon. The Touge California survivor was restored in 2010 and built stoutly with an L18 wearing a W53 head. Despite our best efforts throwing everything we could at it on the 200-mile rally it made finished with no problems and even provided Daniel and his navigator the most comfortable mobile resting spot in the entire grid.
To be continued…