Today’s car is a 1971 Datsun 510 Bluebird 1600 SSS 4-door. I didn’t plan on doing any review of it, but my friend needed my help: I had to drive the car to Nagoya and bring it to a local auction. 1 hour behind the wheel of a cool track-ready Datsun?? “Ok, as a friend, I will clear my very busy schedule for you and I’ll help you out on this one.” What a horrible life I have!

Despite the fact that I haven’t really tested the car properly and that this is not the way I’d normally “test drive” a car (I only drove it on a terribly boring road), I’ll still try my best and share what I thought of it.

(Full disclosure: Not my car, but damn, do I want one now... I REALLY REALLY do.)

Exterior: 7/10

To me, the 4door version does not look as good as the 2door. A bit like with the Hakosuka: 2door>4door. Nonetheless its agressive design, sport wheels, bigger exhaust and front fender mirrors give it this typical 70’s JDM sport car look and the number of doors it has is just quickly forgotten. When the owner got the car, it also had a front spoiler which made it look much cooler. Unfortunatly, this one was removed as it was slightly broken. It looks even better with it.

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Interior: 7/10

Bucket seats in the front, original leather seats in the back. It really is the quintessence of what a basic interior is. It doesn’t look cheap, it doesn’t look expensive. It’s just practical and quality is much better than what you get in most of today’s modern cars. Everything looks strong and sturdy and your eyes don’t hurt when looking around you.

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Toys: 2/10

No toys really... Still, I spent a little while wondering what a couple of buttons with no marking really did, so just for that, I give it a 2 out of 10. It keeps your mind busy when you have nothing to do. I have to keep lower grades for cars with no buttons at all.

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Audio: 9/10

Oh my, that sound!! No radio of course, but the engine and its 2 Weber carburetors scream in your ears!! It’s just awesome! Nothing beats the sound of a carbureted race-ish car. I only wish it was my car so that I could redline it constantly. Such an awesome sound!

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Acceleration: 6/10

Eventhough I didn’t push it much at all, it’s not a very fast car. Sure it screams, sure it’s loud but compared to what we are used to today, it’s just not fantastic. I think it compares to what you get in a 1.8L Miata. It’s just not very fast, but still fast enough to induce a sense of speed. Add the fact that it always sounds like an old SCCA racecar and you have everything that makes a slow sport car fun today.

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Braking: 6/10

You really need to have good muscles to stop that thing. The brakes were very, VERY hard. I have driven a lot of cars, and this one is in the top 2 or 3 of the hardest brake pedal I’ve ever dealt with. It just feels unassisted eventhough it is. Take your own car, go downhill, turn off the engine, pump the brakes a couple of time and then try to stop it... That’s how hard the brakes on this Bluebird are. It does brake pretty well but I have no idea about the endurance of the brakes and if they tend to overheat though.

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Ride: 6/10

Quite confortable. Suspensions are hard, sure, but it still feels a lot more confortable than my old Corvette for exemple or more confortable than my RX7. It’s still a sport car though, keep that in mind, but overall, despite the bucket seats and despite the suspensions, I was very surprised at how great and smooth it felt (for a sports car)

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Gearbox: 9/10

Sooooo smooth! Very light gear shift, clutch was light too. It didn’t feel like a track car at all. Synchros worked perfectly, it was very easy to rev-match (the engine revs really fast too), really no problem at all. It was an absolute pleasure to just shift it for no reason. Each downshift brought a big smile on my face and it really deserves such a good grade.

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Handling: 5/10

Despite the fact that I haven’t tested the car properly, through a couple of corners, I felt a massive lack of precision in the steering along with a rear axle that felt rather “old” to say the least. It made me think that the whole thing might be sketchy at higher speeds on mountain roads. On a track, or if the road is perfectly smooth, it should be alright. It also has an open-diff, which only means that it will not like it if the rear starts to come around. With a few upgrades I’m sure this car would be awesome, but as it is, with such an approximative steering, I don’t think it would be that fun to drive fast. Sketchy, but most likely not very fun. It needs fixing. I’m sure a well sorted car is awesome, but as far as this one goes: 5 out of 10.

(Not happy with the quality of my test drive video of course due to how boring the road is but that’s all I got. At least you get to experience how great it sounds!!)

Value: 9/10

Prices on those are climbing high and fast. My friend got an insane deal on it and needs the money, so it’s a quick and easy flip for him. Buy one while you still can, well sorted ones might reach 4door Hakosuka prices in the next few years.

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Total: 66/100

A fair grade for this specific car. It needs a bit of work, mostly steering wise. A great engine noise and an awesome gearbox are not enough to make a great car, it also needs to be stable and look great. A little bit of cosmetic work (mostly interior) along with suspensions/steering tuning would bring this car in the 80s/100 range easily. Still, what an awesome car it could be... Its sound is intoxicating and I need a carbed sport car in my life. Unfortunatly for me, this one will be sold at auction tomorrow... Sad Flavien is sad :(