More than any other car in the history of the Datsun brand the Datsun Bluebird 510 is the car that means the most to greater population. Whilst there are certainly faster, better handling, and more attractive cars from Nissan's history, when you mention the name Datsun to the average man on the street more often than not this is the car he will associate with the name. And for good reason too.
Entering production in August 1967 and going on sale in 1968 in most export markets, the Datsun 510 was an immediate hit. Nissan had set out to build something that would be an affordable version of BMW's 'Neue Klasse' cars from the 1960s, most notably the BMW 1600. What they set out to achieve was a small to mid sized family car that would be light and easy to drive, and also offering a car that would appeal to the more sporting driver at the same time. They succeeded in spectacular fashion.
Whilst the 510 may have lacked the charm and character of the earlier Bluebird models it more than compensated for it in many other ways. It's styling, with it's crisp straight lines was ultra modern when it hit the showroom floor in 1968, and in a tribute to it's ageless design it still looks great today. Nissan managed to create a car that was a paradox, it's looks were conservative enough to appeal to the average person, yet it still managed to have a purposeful and sporting feel, a combination very few designers have ever managed to achieve.
The car's sporty appearence was matched by it's mechanicals. The car featured class leading handling characteristics thanks to it's MacPherson strut front suspension and independent rear end. For an engine the car used a shortened version of the six cylinder L20 engine first fitted to the 1966 Nissan Cedric 130, effectively an L 6 cylinder engine with two cylinders cut off. The new engine was designated the L16, and was a 1595cc overhead cam engine that produced 96hp in standard form.
The car hit it's intended market well. Word quickly spread about it's handling and performance and the car became a must-have item for both amateur and professional racers. In the United States the car was a popular circuit racer that would go on to win countless races and championships. In Australia it became the off-road rally racing weapon of choice, going on to win the Australian Rally Championship. As a testamant to their performance several Datsun 510s still compete in the Australian Rally Championship series, and hold their own with much more modern and expensive machinery. The car was just as successful in the showroom, with global sales topping half a million in it's four year run.
The 510 was offered in a bewildering variety of versions. I am not even going to attempt to cover them all here, this website is devoted to pre-1968 models and this page is included merely as a post-script to that era. There are countless other website devoted to this car that can cover this better than I can, and I recommend you search them for a definative list. But as a basic overview of what was available I offer the following.
The 510 was initially sold as a four door sedan and as a two door sedan, with the two door sedan having the same rear windscreen profile as the four door. A five door wagon version came out a few months later, which was mechanically the same as the sedan except that it had a leaf spring rear suspension instead of the independent rear featured on the sedans. In October 1968 a SSS version was released with a twin Hitachi side draught carburettor setup which produced 109hp. In November 1968 a very pretty coupe version went into production. This differed from the two door sedan in that it had a rear windscreen that sloped at a much greater angle and also had a tail light design that covered the full width of the rear of the car, rather than just two seperate tail lights.
With the L16 engine being the most common engine used, there were some other engine options. A base model version was offered in some markets with the 1296cc 77hp L13, while in other markets and up-spec version was available fitted with the 1770cc 105hp L18 engine. In South America and parts of Africa the car was offered with the 1400cc L14 engine. Another version sold in Mexico was fitted with the pushrod J15 engine from the Datsun 521 truck. A very basic version of the 510 was built under licence in Taiwan by the Yue Loong Motor Company. This car, which was sold as the Yue Loong YLN-706, had a leaf spring rear suspension and used the 1299cc 62hp J engine fron the 411 Bluebird.
The car was sold in Japan as the Datsun Bluebird, in Australia as the Datsun 1600, in Europe as the Datsun 1600 (or whetever size engine it was sold with), in Mexico as the Datsun 1500, and rather oddly, it was sold in the United States by it's model code, the Datsun 510. American cars even had badges that said Datsun 510 instead of 1600 or Bluebird.
Production of the Datsun Bluebird 510 ended in August 1971, and the car was replaced by the Datsun Bluebird 610 series.
The four door sedan version of the Datsun Bluebird 510
The two door sedan version of the 510.
The coupe version of the 510 featured a sloping back windscreen and a full width tail light cluster.
The wagon version had a leaf spring rear suspension rather than the independent version found in the sedan.
The Datsun Bluebird 510 was built under licence by the Yue Loong Motor Company of Taiwan.
The 510 was replaced by the all new Datsun Bluebird 610 series in 1972.
Length - 4120mm
Width - 1560mm
Height - 14005mm
Wheelbase - 2420mm
Weight - 915kg
Top speed - 160kph
Transmission - 4 speed Floor change
Model - L16
OHC 4 Cylinder
Capacity - 1595cc
Bore & Stroke - 83x73mm
Power - 96hp@5600rpm
Torque - 100ft/lb@3600rpm
Compression - 8.5 : 1
Carburettor - dual throat down draught
Final Drive - 3.7 : 1
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