Back in CA – 1972 Datsun 510 Wagon

It’s been a while since we’ve featured a pre-1980s Japanese car, so it’s time to revisit that part of the market. Looking around at old Datsuns, the 510 came to mind, and it’s surprising how few are currently available, even on the west coast. However, they are still out there in all their different versions, among them this first-generation 510 wagon, currently at $1500 with 1 day’s bidding left to go in Chico, CA.

1972 Datsun 510 wagon right front

It’s got that “sat-outside-in-the-California-sun” look so common among older cars its age. That said, that aesthetic is quite popular as a look of its own, down to having a forum dedicated to it. And while this particular car has been off the road for about 20 years (that’s half the wear and tear of a continuously registered 510, ladies and gentlemen – step right up!), the beige paint works well when faded. Perhaps refinishing the Libre wheels that come on the car to get rid of the trendy flat black finish would be enough to make it look like the strong runner you’ll want to make out of this car. Short of a full restoration, the rust patches on the hatch and roof only add to the car’s character… as long as you keep it parked indoors.

1972 Datsun 510 wagon left rear

The engine looks pretty complete, and will run on starting fluid. At least the seller seems to have been sensible enough to not run the car on old gas, hopefully he put in some fresh oil before starting the car. There’s so much space under the hood without fuel injection, air pumps, air conditioning, and all the other junk that became popular soon after this car was built.

1972 Datsun 510 wagon engine

Duct tape is underrated as an upholstery material. Seat upholstery kits do not seem to be readily available, so cover up that foam with duct tape and when the adhesive melts in the heat, don’t worry, it’ll just hold you in the seat better when cornering! On a brighter note, many rubber trim bits are remanufactured, so you could improve the cosmetics and keep out fumes while keeping the aged look.

1972 Datsun 510 wagon dash

This looks like a fun project – for some reason the seller does not offer much information on rust except to assume there is some. If the floor boards are solid, you might get away with the usual revival tasks (change plugs, wires, fluids and hydraulic & coolant hoses) and be good to start debugging the car on your daily commute.


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