Every year, the kind folks at JCCS allow us to give one JNC award. This year, we were incredibly happy to give it to a Datsun 510, as 2017 happened to be the 50th anniversary of the Nissan 510 chassis. But which 510? There was a grip of them at the show, so let’s take a look at some of them before we reveal which five and dime went home with the award.
We’ve been admirers of Wild Cards member John Ross Huckins’s 1972 Datsun 510 wagon for a long time, primarily because of the trick 4-link suspension built into the rear end with 3:73 final drive. This year it got front and center placement closest to the entrance, greeting attendees with its turbo SR20 and new Work Equip 40s (released for the wheel company’s four-decade anniversary of its race team).
Tim and Kyle Rominger brought their 1972 Datsun 510 all the way from Tucson, Arizona. The father-son team built the car as a project together over a span of two years. Despite a pretty race-oriented setup with coilovers, a Wilwood big brake kit, fuel cell and roll cage, they’ve opted top keep its stock L16, albeit with dual 40mm Webers.
Matt Anderson’s 1972 510 sported a green livery inspired by the BRE race cars. Underneath was the 510 tuner starter pack, a KA24DE swap, Subaru R160 limited-slip diff, coilovers, and Wilwood brake upgrade.
Luis Hernandez owns not only the highly modified SR20-swapped 510 seen here, but the charmingly patina’d column-shift Nissan Bluebird 1300 we visited in Part 01. With both a stock-ish rare JDM model and a tuned USDM model, Luis has the best of both worlds.
Fredy Acosta’s 1970 510 went for a less modern mod. The L16 was swapped with an L20B and equipped with dual Mikuni 40s. The extra power is sent through a 5-speed manual and a 3.90 diff, both pilfered from a 280ZX.
We really loved Jay Whalen’s butterscotch ’71 longroof, which he described as an “SSS wagon build.” The goal was to answer a “what if” scenario, as in what if Nissan did produced a performance wagon with the SSS’s powertrain back in the day. As such, it’s running an L18, high compression JDM A87 head with the closed chamber “peanut” design, and 36mm SU carbs. Lowered on SSR proper old school wheels in the form of SSR MkIIs, it’s represents the kyusha style superbly.
Mike Saiki went with a popular drag setup with his 1972 wagon. It boasts its original white paint on the outside, but underhood it’s running a 12A peripheral port rotary with Weber IDA 48s.
Daniel Silva’s 1971 510 Wagon is a Touge California veteran, having completed the vintage rally in 2016. We liked it then for its period correct L18 engine and slightly modified suspension. Since we saw it then, it’s received a new set of Enkei Compe wheels and still looks as nice as it did driving through the mountains of southern California.
Victor Preciado’s 1971 2-door sedan won Best 510 at last year’s JCCS. With an SR20 swap and Volk TE37s, the tuner style build was still of the highest quality, but the competition has gotten much stiffer in the past year.
Taking second place this year was NorCal resident Jose Paredes and his 1971 sedan. With a built SR20DET whose head was ported and polished and valvetrain fitted with Tomei springs and rocker arms and which was fed with an HKS 3037 turbo, it was dynoed at 411 horsepower and 337 pound-feet of torque. In addition, a Silvia S15’s 6-speed transmission and an R200 diff send power to the SSR Professor SP3 wheels wrapped in Yokohama S-drives. The craftsmanship was impeccable, but the competition was tough this year.
First place in the 510 category went to Matt Gardella and his 1971 2-door sedan. Powered by a built KA24DE-T boosted to 16 psi and intercooled, it is said to produce over 300 horsepower. A 280ZX and Subaru R160 LSD transmit power to 16-inch Panasports cloaked with Bridgestone Potenza RE71s. This year we weren’t involved with the judging, but it goes to show that at JCCS it’s not simply about horsepower, but the overall package.
That’s the very reason we had to select Gilbert Susana’s 1972 Datsun 510 as the recipient of the JNC Award. In a very competitive field that included all makes and models, not just 510s, Gilbert’s car was a standout.
The exterior was eye-catching, but not overdone. Just a few subtle tweaks with the JDM grille, taillights, mirrors and rain visors were enough to compensate for the copper metallic paint job. A front bumper delete and gold finish Work Equip 40s provided just the right amount of attitude. Plus, the fact that it was a sedan — a body style that until recently was out of favor — surely endeared it to our technical editor and resident Datsun freak John Roper.
The real story for Gilbert’s car, however, was under the hood. Its S14 SR20DET block was shot-peened, honed and plateaued before being completely built with Tomei pistons, JE piston rings and Cosworth main and thrust bearings. Its head was ported and polished, then built with Tomei Poncams, Crower valvesprings, and Greddy Rocker Arm Stoppers. Fuel and air are supplied by 1000cc injectors and Ikeya Formula ITBs. A Garrett GTX3071R turbo and Tial GT30 turbine use a Mishimoto intercooler and custom manifold and downpipe made by ILKFab, with exhaust exiting through PBM oval exhaust. As a finishing touch, Gilbert custom painted the valve cover to represent his team, the infamous Wild Cards.
Its lowdown stance comes courtesy of T3 camber plates, upper hats, tension control rods and lower control arms, as well as front coilovers, Wold Creek CV axles, and FutoFab’s camber and toe adjustment kit. A Wilwood big brake kit upgrades the rears to disc and a Subaru R160 3.70 LSD in sits between.
It was an incredibly difficult choice this year, especially with several high-dollar builds making their debut at JCCS. In the end the JNC staff, including our web administrator Matt De Mangos and editor at large Ricky Silverio all agreed, it wasn’t the laundry list of parts on Gilberts car but the overall package when those parts were used in harmony. Utilizing thoroughly modern and technologically advanced parts from both sides of the Pacific on the stuff you couldn’t see, the parts you could see were in the spirit of a Japanese restomod. It had flair where it was needed, but even more importantly, aesthetic restraint was used where it counted. Omedetou, Gilbert! You will receive the JNC Shōnin decal for recognition of his car.
To be continued…
We will have more 2017 JCCS coverage coming up but in the meantime, in case you missed it, here’s Part 01 — JDM Goodness, Part 02 — Race Cars, Part 03 — Stock as a Rock, Part 04 — Shakotan Sleds, and Part 05 — 80s and 90s, as well as a JCCS Spotlight feature.