510

Back to Bluebird page 1972-1977 160B 180B (610) 1977-1980 160B 180B (810) 1980-1984 Bluebird (910)

The Datsun 1300 and 1600 were amongst the first batch of Datsun models to be imported into the UK and was met head on with very strong competition from Ford, BMC, Rootes and Vauxhall. The 4 door 1600 saloon model (these cars never sported their engine sizes as badges) was the first on the shores in September 1968. The 5 door estate version followed a few months later, with a 1300 saloon only version early in 1969. The British motoring press had regularly been reporting about Japanese cars throughout the 60’s, so would have been aware of the significant technological advances. As noted at the time, the 510’s independent suspension, single overhead camshaft engine, good road handling and clean European influenced styling were praised. 400,000 examples were produced, but success in Europe and particularly the UK was not quite as forthcoming, due to the relative unknown quantity of its talents. The final evolution of the Bluebird arrived with a bored out 1400 engine, which replaced the 1300 and remained in the line up alongside the 1600 version until it was discontinued in mid 1972. The coupe version and SSS may have been imported in very small numbers to special order into the UK, as both models were listed in period price lists, but never appeared in the sales brochures. The car was sold in 2 trim levels in the UK, all saloons featuring the de-luxe trim, with the 1600 estate featuring the GL trim. The 4 door L18 SSS saloon was sold in mainland Europe, but were not thought to have been officially imported to the UK. The estate model continued to be sold well into 1973, overlapping the new generation of 610 Bluebirds as the 180B estate didn’t arrive until later that year. The 2 door saloon was not officially imported by Datsun UK, but several have been privately imported in recent years. By the time Datsun UK had set up a serious distribution and dealer network, the 510 had been discontinued and its potential attributes were never really capitalised on. The 510 has created a following in the States, which with the spread of the internet and numerous publications has spread to the UK. A handful of 510’s have been imported in recent years as their status increases.

 5101971 UK spec Datsun 1400
 510_11969 UK spec Datsun 1600, thought to be the earliest UK 510 import

The Nissan design and development team had projected the 510 to originally feature the 1800 engine, but the PMC developed C30 1800 Laurel model was close to being signed off, so Nissan shifted the car downmarket a segment. Due to the aspirations of marketing the car in the sub-executive car market, considerations to durability and refinement may have proved to be part of the cars success. The SSS models featured a L16 1.6 litre engine but also sold with a 1.8 litre engine but used the Nissan derived L 1.8 litre series engines as opposed to the PMC derived 1.8 litre G Series units. The Bluebird is often referenced by its manufacturers model number (510) and has become an important part of Nissan history, to a point where two new Nissan USA designed concept cars bear a strong design ethic from the 510. The model was embraced in the States and Austrailasia along with the smaller B110 Sunny and became a cheaper alternative to the able European cars offered at the time. Late JDM versions of the 510 also sported a more ornate grey plastic grill with a similar look to the 710 model, but were not imported into the UK.

 510_31973 UK spec Datsun 1600 estate
 510_41972 US spec Datsun 510 2 door saloon (brochure image)
 510_late1973 JDM 4 door saloon (web sourced image)
 510_coupeJDM spec Datsun 510 SSS coupe (press photo)
 510_21972 JDM spec 4 door saloon Datsun 1600 SSS

The SSS model was available in both 4 door and coupe form. Outwardly similar to the higher trim levels of the 510, it was the performance that lifted it higher than the standard L16 models, with larger valves, a higher compression ratio and different cam.

With the American Pete Brock’s Racing (BRE) success of the 240Z, the 510 also became well used as a track car and competed successfully thoughout its career. The 510 had also created a formidible reputation as a rally car, in 1970 6 510’s completed and came 1st and 2nd in the Safari Rally (the first Japanese car to win the event) and 2nd with a L18 510 SSS in 1973 and became a regular rally car for privateers.

 510_breBRE 2 door saloon Datsun 510 (web sourced image)

Model History

1300 (1968-1970)
L Series 4 Cylinder 1296cc OHC
4 door saloon
1400 (1970-1972)
L Series 4 Cylinder 1428cc OHC
4 door saloon
1600 (1968-1973)
L 4 Cylinder 1595cc OHC
4 door saloon, 5 door estate
September 1968
4 door 1600 saloon and estate introduced into the UK
October 1968
4 door 1300 saloon introduced into the UK
April 1969
Restyled grill with ‘D’ emblem, headlamps recessed, larger rear lights
May 1970
Revised Grill, no centre badge. Circular dialed dashboard, servo assisted brakes
September 1970
1300 saloon discontinued
October 1970
4 door 1400 saloon introduced into the UK
January 1972
Dashboard revisions
August 1972
1400 and 1600 saloon discontinued
May 1973
1600 estate discontinued