This may very well be the nicest 1973 Datsun 510 in existence. The Datsun 510 was a mechanically bulletproof car. You could argue that it lead the charge in the Japanese invasion of the North American market. Despite their reliability, Datsuns were disposable cars.
That’s why this museum caliber 18,000 documented miles 510 is so rare.
“Grandma bought it brand new in 1973 (the sticker is still on the back of the car). Grandma loved her car and I’m not sure if it ever was driven further than 40 miles. I thought she had driven it to Vancouver once, but Dad didn’t seem to think so”.
That, plus the dry climate that the car has spent its life in combined to keep this Datsun in mint condition. The Heales family always believed in maintenance so the car hasn’t suffered under Ken’s watch. Kenny explains:
“As far as I know it has never required any major repairs. The tires are not original because the originals had worn out just from age. Everything else is original. Dad has been told by several mechanics that the reason it hesitates sometimes when you put your foot on the gas is because the accelerator pump has dried out from lack of use. It doesn’t need replacing because it gets better again as you use it. Dad uses it whenever he is back”.
Ken has heeded the advice so the car is driven into town for any errands and this has really enhanced the performance of this 39-year-old export from the “Land of the Rising Sun”.
“Dad gets asked about the car all the time. He was just telling me about some biker looking dude that pulled up beside him this summer at a light-driving some big truck. He asked Dad if he wanted to sell his car several times and Dad told him no several times. Then he asked Dad how many miles were on it. When Dad told him he leaned over and said, “Are you sure you don’t want to sell your car?”
The answer is clear. Kenny is adamant “Dad has no intention of getting rid of it and I’m sure it will stay in the family”. Kenny is actually very happy with that decision because he has literally grown up with this car, plus it’s a link to his late grandmother. He added:
“She let me drive it once with her when I first got my license but I was only allowed to drive around the campus (that area in the center of the beach road that used to be all field but is all houses now) and I had to drive it really slow”.
Kenny explains that the next generation of Heales kids are growing up with this now relatively ancient vehicle:
“I’ve driven it several times in the recent past and get a real kick out of driving it. The seat belts are a little annoying because the shoulder straps appear to be optional. They don’t have any recoil and you just have to adjust the strap for the best fit and then it never moves. If you don’t put the seatbelt on you get this annoying buzzing sound that will not go away until you fasten it. My kids love riding in the back seat because there’s only lap belts back there”.
The experience isn’t high tech. The thing handles like a tank because it was as bare bones as they come, no power steering and not even an AM radio, but the Datsun is destined to remain a long term member of the family for at least two more generations…
By then it might even have 30,000 miles on the clock.
For more of J Sutherland’s work go to mystarcollectorcar.com