Car Collector's Corner: This Mild Looking 1870 Datsun Is An Absolute Monster In Disguise

J Sutherland
by J Sutherland
car collector s corner this mild looking 1870 datsun is an absolute monster in

So what were those long gone Datsuns that supposedly will come back? Datsun 510s were built for one reason – affordability. They were peppy little cars with a practical boxy exterior that meshed well with a roomy interior.

They were light plus they had great handling and a decent power to weight ratio. Datsun 510s developed a fanatical following based on these attributes.

Datsun 510s also gained a reputation on the track because they were indestructible and they were easy and relatively cheap to set up for power and road track performance.

In 1970, nobody ever imagined a civilized “400 horsepower at the rear wheels” Datsun 510.

Elliot Mereski found this Datsun 510 a few years ago and as he says, “it was pretty much like this when I got it”. Actually it was like many projects – on the cusp of completion but the owner finally gave up on the job and Elliot jumped at the opportunity.

The car came complete with an S-13 Red Top motor and S-15 6 speed transmission the previous owner faced the pain and expense that comes with purchasing and installing a high performance engine.

Experienced car guys know that this is only a part of the “buy a project in pieces formula” and the Datsun was no exception. The car came without an interior and with more electrical problems than an average sized hydroelectric dam.

Elliot was undaunted by the task – in fact he took on the extra challenge of power windows and a sophisticated car alarm.

He’s had some growing pains with the car. He took his Dad out for a trial run early in the game and attracted the attention of a local police officer after as he phrased it, “I was goosing it a little bit. After he stopped me he took one look at the car – it had no hood and no interior. He told me to get out of here because he didn’t want to see me again”.

Advice well taken – Elliot took the car home and finished the “little things” that when left undone seem to attract attention from authorities. Elliot confessed “my Mom still won’t ride it no matter how much is done”. Best guess…she calculated the 510’s power to weight ratio.

The car is actually very civilized at lower boost and Elliot claims that it will get 30 miles per gallon on the highway at 16 pounds boost and a paltry 345 horsepower.

The Datsun 510 was the right car at the right time in 1970 – an affordable little car that is reliable and fun to drive. Nobody could imagine that the same rules would apply 40 years later.

Thanks to the magic of 21st Century technology and a young guy named Elliot with the talent to put the pieces together this Datsun 510 still defies the odds.

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2 of 15 comments
  • Beemernator Beemernator on Mar 05, 2012

    Uhm, what is an S-13 Red Top motor...? Other than the fact that it is enormously powerful and surprisingly economical, the story says nothing about it. Not even a close-up picture of it. I will have to ask Google, I guess.

  • Texlovera Texlovera on Mar 05, 2012

    I never appreciated the lines and styling of these cars in my youth. Guess my growing nostalgic streak has won me over to its looks.

  • Stanley Steamer There have been other concepts with BYOT, that I have always thought was a great idea. Replacing bespoke parts is expensive. If I can plug in a standard 17" monitor to serve as my instrument panel, as well as speakers, radio, generic motors, batteries, I'm for it. Cheaper repair, replacement, or upgrade costs. Heck I'd even like to put in my own comfy seats. My house didn't come with a built in LaZboy. The irony is that omitting these bespoke items at the point of sale allows me to create a more bespoke car as a whole. It's hard to imagine what an empty rolling monocoque chassis would look like capable of having powertrains and accessories easily bolted on in my garage, but something like the Bollinger suv comes to mind.
  • Iam65689044 Sometimes I'm glad the French don't sell in America. This is one of those times.
  • SCE to AUX I was going to scoff, but the idea has some merit.The hard part would be keeping the weight and cost down. Even on the EPA cycle, this thing could probably get over 210 miles with that battery.But the cost - it's too tempting to bulk up the product for profits. What might start as a $22k car quickly becomes $30k.Resource-deprived people can't buy it then, anyway, and where will Kyle get the electricity to charge it in 2029 Los Angeles?
  • SPPPP How does one under-report emissions by 115 percent? If you under-report by 100 percent, that means you said your company's products and operations cause no emissions at all, right? Were these companies claiming that their operations and products clean the air, leaving it better than when they got there?On the other hand, if someone was trying to say that the true emissions number is 115 percent higher than was reported, then the actual under-reporting value would be 53.5 percent. True emissions would be set at a nominal value of 100. The reported emissions would be 46.5. Take 115 percent of 46.5 and you get 53.5. Add 46.5 and 53.5 together and you get back to 100.A skim of the linked article indicates that the second reading is correct - meaning the EU is *actually claiming* that the worst offender (Hyundai and Kia) under-reported by 53.5 percent, and VW under-reported by 36.7 percent ((1 - (100/158))*100).I find it also funny that the EU group is basically complaining that the estimated lifetimes of Toyota vehicles are too short at 100,000km. Sure, the vehicles may be handed down from original purchasers and serve for a longer time than that. But won't that hand-me-down resale also displace an even older vehicle, which probably gets worse emissions? The concept doesn't sound that unreasonable.
  • Brendan Pataky Yeesh that's depressing. But remember, this will stop the hurricanes, or something