VIDEO: Why you should buy a Datsun 510

Shannons Club TV Datsun 510

“Experts across the world concluded it had to be a copy of the BMW. It wasn’t… As long as it could be dismissed as a copy, the global car industry didn’t have to face the real threat the Datsun 1600 represented,” declares presenter Joe Kenwright in his latest Shannons Club TV intro. The latest look into Australia’s classic car market turns its attention to the giant-killing Datsun 1600 (or Datsun 510 as we Yanks know it). 

Shannons Club TV Datsun 1600

The Datsun 1600 arrived in Australia just as Volkswagen ended local production of the Beetle. The 1600 became such a hit that before long, Nissan had taken over the former VW plant and started building 510s there.

As it did globally, the 510 also saw motorsports successes Down Under in both rallying and road racing (at the Ampol Round Australia Trial and Mt Panorama Bathurst). Says  co-presenter Mark Oastler, “In Australia there has been no other car as consistently successful at grassroots level.” As he points out, it even won the 1982 Australian Rally Championships, a decade after it had been discontinued.

It’s a rousing affirmation of the 510’s technical prowess. Kenwright further confirms that the overhead cam L16 was head of Mercedes’ engine designs at the time, and that the suspension and styling were as advanced or better than BMW’s. It was something casual observers and media refused to believe at the time — and in many cases still do.

Shannons’ market analysis reveal that original and Australian-produced examples carry a premium in price over JDM ones. That’s part of the unique perspective from Oz, but regardless video is well worth watching and one of the best assessments of the Datsun 510’s place in automotive history.

Source: Shannons Insurance

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9 Responses to VIDEO: Why you should buy a Datsun 510

  1. Scotty G said:

    What a great video! You would probably never, ever see anything like this in the US, a respected classic car show highlighting a Datsun 510, I love it! Calling the Datsun 510, or, any Datsun a “classic” would go over here like (insert un-pc phrase here).
    Thanks for sharing this great video, mate!

    • Thankfully, that perception is slowly starting to change here in the States thanks to acceptance from a younger generation of enthusiasts (coupled, of course, with historical resources like JNC…and of course, events like Touge California!)

  2. KiKiIchiBan said:

    Enjoyable viewing. Not many were ever sold over here in the UK so they don’t really have that nostalgia about them with the older generation, it’s more the younger generation who know about them but would never pay what it takes to ship one over. Proud to own one myself (JDM Bluebird Coupe) and can never see me selling it.

  3. Dave Patten said:

    Here is my theorem on why the time has come for the Japanese collector car and why this video is so timely in covering the rise of interest in the Datsun 510/1600 (sorry for the lengthy comment).

    The peak age for serious car collectors seems to be 45 to 50. They generally are attracted to the hot cars of their teenage years. So the dream car for a guy born in the mid 50’s here in the US was one from the 1965-1970 vintage, in other words, a Pony Car. In my theorem the peak for this market was around 2005.

    Fast forward 10 years, to today. The 45-50 year old buyer’s target car should now be a 1975-1980 model year, which was a horrid time for the US performance automobiles and way too soon for imports to have any positive value with these buyers. 1975 to 1980 also saw a huge growth of imports into the US market and to most period teenagers, they signified the death of the US muscle car. This IMO is what has extended the strong interest in 1965-1970 muscle and pony cars.

    Today we are on the edge of a next generational change of the US collector car market. In the next 5 years we will see a change of focus away from the 65-70’s US pony/muscle cars to the next collector group’s focus group of cars, the 80-85 US cars and Imports of all years. By the time this age group reached their teenage years, imports had become so common place that the stigma held by the earlier generation of collectors had vanished. Because of this, the hot cars for this incoming group of collectors will have a significant import influence.

    We are starting to see this change today with the growth of interest in Datsun 510. We are also seeing increased interest in other Japanese cars like Toyota Celica and Corolla, Mazda RX7 and Hondas. As time continues look for clean examples of newer cars like the Nissan S13, Acura Type R, Mazda RX7 and Mitsubishi EVO to gain significantly in value.

    Dave Patten, Owner – FutoFab, LLC

    • Gary said:

      Alleluia brother Dave – so well said and articulated.

      We do have another factor in Australia; being a RHD market just like Japan we have always had a great array of imports to select from…for a very long time…and very little of the US muscle cars…we did have our own Aussie ones though, but you need to give up your kidney and your first born to acquire one.

      Some of us also have fathers now in their 60’s, 70’s and 80’s who bought the mighty little imports and were immediate converts! So we have inter-generational value of a brand like Toyota and an icon like Landcruiser or Corolla.

      Worth getting your hands on a book called ‘Turning Japanese’ – which tells the story of Japanese cars in Australia.

  4. Clay said:

    But the value of 1975-1980 pony cars is $24K v. Porsche 944s and Datsun 240Zs for $4K.

    • Dave Patten said:

      I didn’t say the 75-80 Pony Car market was dead, just dieing.

      And if you can find me a road ready 240Z driver in the northeastern US for $4k I’ll buy a dozen of them. Current market price in my area for a decent driver 70-73 240Z is $9-$12K. One that will trophy at your local car show will cost you closer to $15-$18K.

      The prices for a decent 240Z in the eastern US has risen dramatically over the past few years.

  5. Bryan Smith said:

    I can’t agree more. I owned a ’71 510 2-Door when I was in high school back in the 80’s. At the time in So. California the 510, Z-Cars and the RX7 actually held a fair amount of respect in performance circles when Japanese cars were discussed. Toyota was just starting to make some noise with the Supra at that time and Honda was still considered nice economy cars.

    I sold my 510 in October of ’87 and have regretted that desicion ever since. They are relatively hard to come by these days and when you find a good 2-Door example it is quite expensive and or modded in ways that makes the car unattractive for me.

    If you can find one in decent condition buy it. They are really starting to appreciate in value.

  6. SR20Datsun said:

    I own a white Australian made 1972 Datsun 1600 that had the original black and white Victoria plates LFC-463. LFV-721 must be a slightly later registration.
    It’s was a GL with the Borg Warner 3 speed, same as the green car shown in the Shannons video.
    My family bought it in the early 80’s after the lady that owned it previously complained it didn’t accelerate when cold and would get mileage of 18mpg. Mum drove it with a revised carby, and an L18 for most of my life, until I bought it in 1999.
    It now performs duties with a modern drivetrain as an occasional drive to work car and has been used for circuit work around Victoria’s finest.

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