A 510 Nissan Bluebird SSS Coupé has been restored… by Toyota

The 510 Nissan Bluebird is one of the most important cars in Japan’s motoring history. So it should come as no surprise that an automaker would want to restore this important automotive legacy and put it in a museum. Recently, just such an undertaking was completed, but the company behind the nut and bolt restoration wasn’t Nissan. It was Toyota.

For the longest time the halls of the Toyota Automobile Museum — which house a wide array of makes and models both domestic and foreign — didn’t have a 510 Bluebird on display. That all changed last month when the museum finally completed a full nut and bolt restoration of a 1970 P510 Bluebird Coupé 1600SSS.

The restoration was conducted at the Restore Pit of the History Garage at Toyota’s MegaWeb showroom in Odaiba, Tokyo. There, through a large picture window in a gift shop stocked with diecast cars, visitors can watch Toyota’s expert technicians toiling away. Often, they’re simply maintaining Toyota’s fleet of classics but occasionally they’re tasked with a full rotisserie restoration.

The work on this particular Bluebird Coupé began in late 2019. According to Toyota, the body had quite of bit of damage and rust. Technicians had to strip it down to the bare chassis, conduct a thorough examination, and repair all the bruises and oxidation bit by bit.

At first glance, it may look like the floorpan and parts of the engine bay are a different color, but the reddish color is primer. The car was repainted in its original Safari Brown, a beautiful and iconic hue for the Bluebird.

It took about a year before the car was back together and the L16 could be fired up again. In this test taking place in late 2020, technicians also inspect the Bluebird’s headlights, marker lights, and brilliant rear sequential turn signals.

The following day, the techs took it out for its first test drive on the short course outside MegaWeb. The route is where customers can test drive new Toyotas, but the Bluebird absolutely purrs down the straight. Even the radio illumination lamp and heater work perfectly. The car is then brought back to the Restore Pit for final maintenance.

Finally in March of this year, the Bluebird arrived at its new home, the Toyota Automobile Museum in Aichi Prefecture. It went on display on March 28 alongside other Japanese icons like the Mazda Cosmo Sport, S30 Fairlady Z, and TA22 Toyota Celica.

This restoration isn’t even the first time in recent memory that they’ve restored a historic Nissan. Last year, MegaWeb technicians worked their magic on an R32 Skyline GT-R.

However, if you happen to visit Tokyo and don’t get a chance to go out west, you can still can see a P510 Bluebird Coupé at MegaWeb. Toyota actually owns two P510 Bluebirds Coupés. The second example is a white survivor on RS-Watanabe wheels that is usually on display at MegaWeb’s History Garage. The 510 Bluebird is truly a special car, and it’s more than confirmed by the fact that Toyota owns two of them.

Images courtesy of Toyota.

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16 Responses to A 510 Nissan Bluebird SSS Coupé has been restored… by Toyota

  1. Michael Spreadbury says:

    The red in the images is actually the original primer for the car (like a red oxide), and all 510s of that era had this same primer (it is often confused for the original color). This car appears to be in the original Safari Brown hue and looks to be a beautiful restoration.

    • Ben Hsu says:

      I thought that might have been the case, but other 510s I’ve seen had body colored floorboards as well. Are those not original, or did they change the paint process over the years?

      • Michael Spreadbury says:

        Ben— the red primer is underneath the sound deadening, and then Nissan painted body color over the top of that— in these images, the sound deadening has been removed revealing the primer underneath.

        It is very common for the deadening in Datsun’s of this era to degrade and for moisture to get underneath, so it is often removed to be able to repair the floor boards.

      • Ben Hsu says:

        Great, that makes me feel a lot better about the car. I’ve corrected the article. Thanks!

  2. I love stories with a happy ending.

  3. legacy-san says:

    I thought the rear sequential turn signals an interesting feature that was probably shared with the Cedric. If those had been offered on the American version, Nissan (Datsun) would have been laughed out of the country for copying a favorite feature on the Thunderbird of the late 1960s. The Japanese law that required rear turn signals in amber must have taken effect later.

    • Craig Ford says:

      Nissan released the first model 610 Bluebird and the 1972 model 510 Bluebird in September 1971 and that is when they changed to the amber indicator lenses. From September 1971 to September 1972 the 510 & the 610 were going down the assembly line together and you could go into the showroom and buy either model.

  4. Mike B says:

    That color is #920 Safari Gold, not Safari Brown.

    • Craig Ford says:

      Not correct Mike, this is a 1970 model SSS coupe and the actual colour is Safari Brown #906. The Safari Gold #920 was on the 1971 SSS model.

  5. Craig Ford says:

    Not sure about the timeline on this restoration in this article as the Megaweb has had a safari brown SSS coupe for around 8 years and if the only other one they own is a white coupe, then this would have to be the coupe that has been at the Megaweb all this time.

  6. Land Ark says:

    During my first trip to Japan I visited Mega Web where I got to see what lurks under a 2000GT’s cam cover:

    And I made a solo day trip down to Nagoya to visit the Toyota Museum. I recall at the time noticing that there was no 510 as I was looking for it to photo since it was the hot car in the US at the time. It was well worth the time it took to get there – what’s not to love about taking the Shinkansen? I didn’t really know what to expect but the sheer variety of makes and models was astounding. I would highly recommend making the trip if you have time.

    And, sadly like my 2020 trip, my 2021 trip has been cancelled so I will have to wait another year to get back to my adopted homeland. Hopefully all the diecast stores I’ve pinned on the map will still be there when I get there.

  7. Negishi no Keibajo says:

    I haven’t heard that engine in 40+ years since my father had a white wagon!

  8. RainMeister says:

    Fabulous! Toyota earns my respect for preserving Japanese automotive history.

    My father once had a 4 door in this color with black vinyl top. It was one of many 510s he had through my youth when he worked for Nissan.

  9. pete240z says:

    Neighbor 2 doors down had a 2 door 510 this color and his wife worked at the Datsun Warehouse in Aurora, IL so it seemed to be the deal. It was always parked in his driveway since it was an “economy” car and when I walked to the bus for junior high from 1974-1976 and high school thru 1980 I would always look at it so for that reason the color and car was burned into my brain.

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