EVENTS: 2018 Japanese Classic Car Show, Part 07 — Beaucoup Bluebirds

Of all the marques at JCCS, Nissan and Datsun were by far the most prevalent. Riding high off the momentum from prestigious events like The Mitty and Monterey Historics, where Nissan was the featured marque, the carmaker’s fans had a lot to celebrate. They turned out in big numbers in Long Beach, an unofficial tally pegging them at nearly half the field. Here are the Bluebirds of JCCS 2018.

Though most popularly known as the 510, the Bluebird has a long history before the revolutionary sports sedan appeared. Greg and Becky Childs’ 1963 Bluebird 312 is about as ideal a representative specimen as one can find, with a beautiful 2-tone paint job and just 47,000 original kilometers (just under 30,000 miles) on the clock.

The Childs family also owns a 1967 Datsun 411 Wagon, along with the Pao beside it which we covered in the JDM installment. The WRL411 features a hot rod theme with a modified R16 motor under the hood.

Of course, the most prevalent examples of the Bluebird genealogy was the 510 generation, and their styles of presentation were incredibly diverse. Eduardo Loaisiga’s green 1970 Jose Paredes’ blue 1971 exhibited the tuner style popular in the 2000s, with KA24DE and SR20DET swaps, respectively.

One look at Warren Jones’ two-tone 1968 and you can tell it was modified in period. It has all details of the era, like molded flares, a BRE-style spook, bumperettes, and the de rigueur American Racing Libres.

Lazaro Zamora’s 1969 510 had all the trimmings of a modern classic build, with coilovers, four-wheel disc brakes, a T3 adjustable suspension and Longchamps. But, with an unmissable pink paint job it stood out with a tremendous presence.

Terry Graboski is just the second owner of his 1969 510, and has been its caretaker for 47 years. According to Terry, during that time it’s been driven cross country several times, from California to Miami, New York and Detroit. The period American Racing mesh wheels have been given a touch of modern design with an interesting choice of bright yellow powdercoat. Somehow, it works.

Troy Ermish’s 510 epitomizes the vintage racer look. The ex-SCCA B-Sedan race car was fresh off a class win at the Monterey Historics a month before its JCCS appearance.

Datsun 510s were beloved around the world. Eddie and Mary Gonzalez’s blue 1972 1600 SSS was imported from South Africa, and is still used as a daily grocery getter. We didn’t catch the owner of the red car, but we loved its clean presentation and classic BRE style.

Brenda Valdivia’s 1972 510 sedan featured several cool period details like the accessory fog lights and SSS grille. With only 78,000 miles on the odometer, it still serves as her faithful daily.

With its clean, no-fuss presentation on Longchamps, Michael Pham’s Datsun 510 had a sleek, timeless appearance and a hidden gem CA18DET swap under the hood. It was no surprise when it took home a silver in the Best 510 class.

Daniel Wu’s Datsun 510 needs no introduction. The Tanto, as it is called, handily won Best Datsun 510 of the show. For a deeper dive on the car, see our article from 2017.

Techno Toy Tuning, a parts company specializing in suspensions for old school J-tin, also had a 510 display car featured prominently at their booth.

One of our favorites was Mark Sayre’s 1972 510, a LHD converted Bluebird modified in period style. On classic Watanabe-looking wheels and running an L20B, and with cool touches like the accessory lights in the grille and parcel shelf speakers it exuded a very proper retro feel.

Nelson Irwin’s 510 Wagon is a perpetual favorite. The white steelies with dog dishes are a particularly nice color choice.

We first saw Troy Fodor’s 1971 Datsun 510 wagon at the recent Petersen Museum cruise-in and were glad to see it make another appearance. Its KA24DE swap IRS swap give it a truly unique character.

Daniel Silva’s 1971 Wagon is a Touge California veteran, having survived a 200-mile rally through some of southern California’s most demanding roads. Its L18 swap keeps the looking period correct under the hood.

We loved Richard Gilligan’s 1976 610 for its stock-bodied appearance, complete with big US safety bumpers and door guards. However, its grandpa-spec look hides an SR20DE underneath, and its lowering on 15-inch Epsilons are the only clues to its potency.

We’ve Josue Elias’s 1973 610 Wagon in various forms going as far back as 2012, but it still brings a smile to our faces as the lone representative of post-510 longroofs.

Last but not least, while we have yet to see the same level of enthusiasm bestowed to Nissan’s 80s alternative to the Toyota Cressida, it’s nice to see a small contingent of 810 Maximas at the show.

To be continued…

We’ll have more 2018 JCCS coverage coming up, but in the meantime, in case you missed it, check out Part 01 — JDM, Part 02 — Toyotas, Part 03 — Hondas, Part 04 — Subaru and Isuzu, Part 05 — Trucks, and Part 06 — Mazdas, as well as a spotlight on the Wild Cards and the first Honda race car in America.

Bonus Images:

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15 Responses to EVENTS: 2018 Japanese Classic Car Show, Part 07 — Beaucoup Bluebirds

  1. Nigel said:

    Techno Toy’s orange 510 looked very nice. Great to see some Maxima’s also.

  2. Spirit Road said:

    Too many badass Bluebirds there that day!

  3. alvin said:

    Ben, loving the coverage!
    Correction on Mark Sayre’s beautiful 510:
    The wheels are not Watanabe
    They are Atara Racing Pisang:
    THE DEFINITIVE, original wheel for Japanese Nostalgic vehicles.

  4. Mark Newton-John said:

    Unfortunate that Datsun (Nissan) couldn’t continue the success of the 510 in North America with the 610 and 710. They even resurrected a new 510 which was a failed attempt with a storied nameplate. In the 90s there was success with their 4DSC Maxima, but lately everyone wants Altimas, with Maximas as common as Ford Tauruses.

    • Dutch 1960 said:

      They sold quite a few 610s and 710s back in the day. Much less racing exposure and success, along with the idea that they were just new cars, not something really special, meant that the later model cars weren’t as widely coveted and saved. They came on the heels of an iconic car in so many ways. Like the BMW 320 series following the 2002. A better BMW in many ways, but not a 2002. The increasing pollution control complexity and use of little boxes full of circuit boards meant that the later Datsuns were also a bit more “fiddly” to keep on the road.

      Selling quite a few 610s and 710s in the first place was a victory of sorts for Datsun. But the downhill slide in the name, compared to where it was when they were rolling out 240Zs and 510s, was a longer term image problem that showed up over time.

      • Mark Newton-John said:

        I certainly don’t remember seeing that many 610s or 710s. And I was living in SoCal in the 70s. That was about the time Toyota overtook Volkswagen as the top import.
        I dug the 510 with its independent rear suspension, way better than our Toyotas with the typical solid axles and leaf springs.
        But this was the end for the small sedans, and the start of the sport coupes like the Celica and 240SX

    • nlpnt said:

      The previous square mid/late ’80s Maximas were more popular than Cressidas new, or at least more buzzworthy, with the SE sedan in particular appealing to the “yuppie” market that couldn’t quite afford a BMW.

      • Mark Newton-John said:

        Probably the reason the Corona was replaced by the Camry and the Cressida replaced by the Avalon. Americans just wanted bigger cars. Thankfully the US doesn’t have those stupid taxation schemes to force people into cars they really don’t want to buy.

  5. Tedman said:

    That would be my red 2-door in the pic with the blue 1600SSS from South Africa. Been waiting patiently for the 510 coverage and it was worth it!

  6. Tedman said:

    Forgot to add, props to Daniel Wu for actually driving “Tanto” down from the Bay Area.

  7. Ray said:

    That’s not John Williams wagon, I don’t know how you guys could mistake red from orange. Those are his old wheels but that is Nelson’s wagon. And that green wagon was best of show but no pictures.

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