The 1969 Datsun 510: GR-R-R-ROOVY!

Yesterday, I shared a Toyota Corona ad from the February 1969 issue of Playboy. I like the Corona for personal reasons, but if the Time Machine took me back to ’69 and I didn’t have a lot to spend (or even if I did have a lot to spend), the Datsun 510 would be one of my top choices. Wouldn’t you know, there’s an ad for the 510 in the very same issue!

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Junkyard Find: 1972 Datsun 521 Pickup

We saw a Datsun 620 Junkyard Find recently, and now I’ve found an example of the 620’s predecessor: the 520.

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Junkyard Find: 1976 Datsun 620 Pickup

Did any of the Afghani Mujahideen drive Datsun pickups to battle after the Soviets invaded? Probably, but the Toyota Hilux got all the press. For the same reason today, Malaise Era Toyota pickups tend to be kept alive, while their Datsun, Mazda (via Ford), and Isuzu (via Chevy) counterparts get crushed when they finally suffer some problem that costs more than $200 to fix. I’ve been seeing a steady stream of these Datsuns in junkyard for 20 years now, and here’s the latest one.

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Datsun Returns, Officially

When, some seven weeks ago, the Nikkei had the rumor that Nissan would revive its Datsun brand for low cost cars, targeted at emerging markets, official sources at Nissan – not surprisingly – had no comment.

One not so charitable source at Nissan conceded that “this time, the Nikkei is less on crack than sometimes.” Another more diplomatic source said: ”I guess you can expect a press release soon.”

That press release arrived today.

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What's the Deal With Those FLOOR TEMP Warning Lights in Malaise Era Datsuns?

A couple of recent Junkyard Find Datsuns (the ’78 510 and ’77 280Z) featured mysterious “FLOOR TEMP” idiot lights on their dashes. Floor temp? Why?

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Junkyard Find: 1978 Datsun 510 Sedan

Wait a minute— this Malaise Era heap, with its solid rear axle and AMC Hornet-esque lines, this car can’t be a 510! That’s what I thought when I spotted this car at a Northern California self-service yard last month, having forgotten that Nissan’s American marketers slapped 510 badges on the 710/Violet/Stanza/200B for the ’78 and ’79 model years. This is the first time I’ve seen one of these things in at least 20 years.

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

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.

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Nissan To Revive Datsun For Low Cost Car Brand?

We have been keeping one eye on the Nissan/Renault plans for low cost cars for a while. All indications have been that the alliance is working on a car that could sell in the neighborhood of $5,000 and still make a profit. The secret of doing this is spreading the development effort over as many units as possible.

Today, The Nikkei [sub] writes that Nissan will resurrect its Datsun brand in order to sell low-priced cars in emerging markets. According what the Nikkei “learned” without naming sources, the cars will initially be built and sold in India, Indonesia and Russia. Allegedly, Nissan hopes to “achieve annual sales of 300,000 Datsuns a year soon.”

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Junkyard Find: 1977 Datsun 280Z

After a couple of 1970s Italian sports cars for our last two Junkyard Finds, it’s time to look at the Japanese competition. Malaise Era Z Cars are not uncommon in California junkyards, and I spotted this fairly rough example in an Oakland yard last month.

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Junkyard Find: 1983 Nissan Pulsar NX

Just about the time Datsuns were getting Nissan badging, the suits at Nissan HQ decided that they needed a cheap sporty car to compete with the likes of the Honda CRX and (cringe) Ford EXP in the American marketplace. A little cutting and pasting on the Sentra and voila! Pulsar!

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Junkyard Find: 1983 Nissan Sentra Sedan

The Corolla and the Civic get all the attention when we think about the Japanese subcompacts that put the fear into Detroit during the final years of the Malaise Era, but we mustn’t forget Nissan’s replacement for the rear-drive Datsun 210: the Sentra. You don’t see many early Sentras in junkyards these days; they haven’t been a common sight in The Crusher’s waiting room for a decade or so. Here’s one that I spotted in California earlier this month.

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Return Of Sakura And Fuji: The Dogged Datsuns Run Again

and came home with a trophy? This story has a sequel.

In 1958, two Datsuns, named “Fujii” and “Sakura” entered the Mobilgas Trial, 10,000 miles all around Australia. Surprisingly, “Fuji” won its class title. “Sakura” finished fourth.

Half a century later, the cars were found in a warehouse in Japan.

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That Took Guts: How A Funky Little Datsun Won The World's Cruelest Rally

It was known as “The World’s Cruelest Rally:” The Mobilgas Trial, 10,000 miles all around Australia. In 1958, there were two entries, regarded as a joke by the burly Aussies: A pair of tiny Datsun 210s, named “Fuji” and “Sakura”.

The suicidal idea was had by marketing manager Yutaka Katayama. Aged 102 years, he is still alive to tell the story:

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Junkyard Find: 1979 Datsun 210 Sedan

We saw this junked ’78 Corolla a while back, and there was this ’81 Mazda GLC and this ’80 Civic, but no discussion of Middle Malaise Era Japanese Econoboxes can be complete without mention of Nissan’s third-gen Sunny aka 210 aka 120Y aka B210. Here’s a nice example I found in a Denver self-serve yard a week or so back.

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Down On the Wisconsin Street: Datsun Sports 2000

You’ve got to love a car named the Sports, if only because it reminds us of the pre-focus-group era. I’m on vacation in Door County, Wisconsin at the moment, which means I’m surrounded by endless Packers paraphernalia, startling quantities of Buicks driven by folks 50 years younger than the normal Buick demographic, cheese curds, and this beautiful street-parked vintage Datsun.

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  • EBFlex "I've only filled the gas tank three times in 2500 miles"Assuming you went from 0 gallons to full (17.2), you have averaged almost 50MPG over those 2500 miles. 50 MPG in a Jeep Wrangler. To all of you EV nut jobs, tell me again how PHEVs are not the absolute best thing to happen to automobiles since the wheel. And tell me how they don't make EVs look like the awful play toys that they are.
  • MRF 95 T-Bird The Buick 215/3.5-liter aluminum V8 was one of GMs great engines. Unfortunately GM being GM in one of their greatest mistakes was selling off the tooling to BL. If they kept it around and improved upon it it would have been a fine motor for their compacts and midsize models through the OPEC oil crisis.
  • Chris P Bacon Not sure why a '21 is getting reviewed, because there have been improvements to the 4xe. I've got a '22 4xe Sahara. May 2022 build in High-Velocity yellow with a soft top. As soon as it was announced I knew I wanted to try it, not for the fuel mileage, but for the technology. I don't have a Level 2 charger, it charges fully overnight on the included Level 1. I see an indicated range of 27 miles regularly. Today it indicated 29 when I unplugged. I've only filled the gas tank three times in 2500 miles, a full charge costs me about $3 based on my current electricity supplier. I don't experience the rough transitions between electric and gas, so maybe Jeep figured it out? It's stupid fast when using all the power off the line. So much so that it will break the rear wheels loose when you stomp on it. I agree that plugin hybrids are the future. I see no need for a pure electric. This is the way to go.
  • RHD The word B R O N C O written in contrasting paint on the dashboard is quite unnecessary. The passenger certainly knows what kind of vehicle he or she is in. That detail is a big fail. The red and white Bronco looks great, especially with tires that have honest-to-goodness sidewalls on them.
  • Luke42 Aren't those trim levels just different colors of paint?That's what they sound like, at least. 🤷‍♂️