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In What form is it best to buy a 510?

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So Im a soon to be 18 year old in the sf bay area of California, and I love 510s. I want to own one, drive one, work on one. Blow all my benjamins on one. My main question to the ratsun forum and all of its experienced users is should I try to build one myself with the little time and money I have or should I find one thats a running project and improve it from there. I would like to have one with a KA swap but would be fine with an sr20 or a ca18. The L series doesnt really do it for me. I currently have $5000 and make about $150-200 more every week as a tire changer at Americas Tire. I've been in the hunt for one for about 6 months and have come across many possibilities but was forbidden to buy one by my father. HELP ME PLEASE!

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1st...get a better job so you can move out - then pops can't tell you how to spend your moneies.


2nd...what can YOU do with the car if it breaks down?


if you dont need a DD...get one you can work on. Or spend the cash and get one thats a good runner. there is a KA swapped wagon down here in so cal, not sure if its still for sale.

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a $5,000 Ka24 510 isn't going to be a daily driver,,, it might drive .... . . but they don't pop up all over for cheap unless they have problems



at 18 with a father who doesn't want a project in his driveway ,, , , are you ready to tear apart a 40 year old car and fix all the problems for the next 4 years?

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a $5,000 Ka24 510 isn't going to be a daily driver,,, it might drive .... . . but they don't pop up all over for cheap unless they have problems



at 18 with a father who doesn't want a project in his driveway ,, , , are you ready to tear apart a 40 year old car and fix all the problems for the next 4 years?


I have about $6k into my 510 right now, including the $2500 I paid for it. Brand new suspension components all around, freshly rebuilt engine, brand new Subaru LSD... And it is a perfectly DDable KA 510.


Good deals do pop up. Most of the cheap swapped 510s that are for sale simply just weren't done right.. more specifically, the wiring (usually)

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I have little advice cause i bought mine as an engineless learning project.


If you are mechanically savvy and have a general knowledge of cars, you can most likely fix any problem with a 510 faster than any modern car(enough to get it down the road).

Just get a shop manual.. haynes guide or whatever.


Your 17! An L20b with 32/36 is plenty of fun and power to push a 510 along nicely and not get in too much trouble! Do you have the driving ability to handle a KA or SR in a 510?(had to be asked, I mean no insult.)

fun as hell until you go into a tree.



Welcome to Ratsun! Eastbay, yo! Check out the santa clara monthly meeting! I bought my goon when I was 16, im 18 now.


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Buy the nicest, good running 510 you can for your money. $5000 will buy a good 510. You'll still want to customize it, but you won't have to fix existing problems.


+1 to zilla for the best newbie answer. For your first car get something you want to tinker with~ not have to fix/modify/etc. I'm not big on L-series either, but it'll get you around quite reliably till you're ready to graduate to the next level of automania. If you simply MUST have something non-stock, find one with a 5-speed~ that's the best bang-for-your-buck mod to opt for. After that (in my book), choose a good interior over a good paint job. How you feel and what you see going down the road will inpsire you to fix the exterior. A rattling ratty interior takes the comfort & fun out of driving. A well thought out, non emotional choice at the buying stage will reap you miles of pleasure for years to come~ and one Dad will be on-board with....




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Thanks for all the suggestions guys I think I'll start at one of the swap meets. Just have to find out when the next one is??

I almost bought a 240z yesterday it looked pretty cherry and set up but then I thought to myself " FUCK HAVING TO PAY FOR SPORTS CAR INSURANCE! " I'll stick with my intentions on a sedan

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Forget the swap meets and start checking eBay and more importantly, craigslist. Search craigslist through Google so you can find deals outside your own metro area. Or since you are in the Bay Area (possible the 2nd best place to find Datsuns) you could just limit your search to SF craigslist, if you don't wish to travel.


I found both my Datsuns in California and drove them back to Seattle.

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i got my KA'd 4dr off craigslist almost 6 years ago for 3k, and i dd for almost 2 years with minimal issues till the brakes went to crap. now for less than 2k i have all new suspension and its my dd again :D


keep lookin theyre out there, if one looks good be sure to see it in person asap, they go quick.

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If you have $5000, buy a decent quality 510. With only $150-200 a week, you can't afford a KA or SR 510. KEEP THE L! The only reason it doesn't do it for you is because you haven't spent enough time with it. If you want to go fast now, buy a newer car. A fast 510 will only get you into trouble and damage suspension parts that you can't buy at a parts store.


Case in point, when I bought my 510, it had sat in some guy's yard for a year with a bent rear control arm because surprise surprise, you can't go and pick one of those up at the wrecking yard anymore! And I'm sure that guy had better cash flow than yourself.


A good L series is more than capable of surprising many cars in the corner. Hell, my LZ20B with dual SUs could hang with newer V8 Mustangs, like 2003 models. That's with an ancient L series and a lot of hard work. BUT, I drove the original L16 for a year before I blew a head gasket and yanked the motor to build my race motor. And now I've holed a piston in it, so we're using that as an excuse to build a turbo motor.


Regardless, I have sunk $5000 into the 510 easily, and a lot of those upgrades are suspension upgrades, brake upgrades. A lot of SR/KA 510 swaps are done with the stock running gear and suspension which means you have the equivalent of a mid 70's muscle car. Lots of go, zilch for cornering or braking.


So again, buy a stock 510, see if you can keep that running first. Upgrade suspension, then brakes, then motor. In that order. You'll be a lot happier in the LONG run.

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There was a kid on here recently that got a nice orange wagon.

Had big plans then hes MOM said it was unsafe . started tearing it apart,and he left the forum then car was sold off

Thats the car you need to buy and learn on. L motors are EZ. to work on.If you cant handle a L motor then you wont handle a Slapedd in KA from who knows how they did it.

Go save a beater 510 and learn.


Most kids are used to now cars they just put the key in and it goes. Breaks then they start screwing it up.

Look how many beat S13& S14s out there not worth shit all beat to fuck.


Save a beater with that 5 K and dont make it your daily driver otherwise youll get fire for not having perfect attendance.


Believe me!!!!!!!!!!!!

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I doubt you have any experience with cars other than driving them. If you do, you have none with Datsuns. There is no course in school that teaches experience it is hard earned and takes time to gain. Do you have a place to keep your new 510? No, not the driveway. Somewhere out of the weather and out of sight where it won't bother your dad or the neighbors. Do you have tools? Manuals?


If so get a good runner as stock as you can because they will be the easiest to fix and keep on the road while you gain experience. You should have lots of cash over for add ons. There's nothing like a $5K car that breaks a simple transmission mount but you don't know where to begin to fix it, don't have the welder needed and sure can't afford to have it fixed. Eventually you will have a g/f and they are money pits worse than 40 year old Datsuns. So the money you thought you would have available for modifications is.... gone. Drive your car and get to know how it works. Find out what it needs (they all do) and plan long range projects. Start with something simple like lowering it or replacing the seats. Drive and enjoy it. They are a bundle of fun even with the stock motor. Enjoy the handling and discover how it works, what it will do and won't do. Research, research, research... can't stress enough. Plan your projects. Double all costs and have the money before starting. Amass tools.

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First: if you're looking for a daily driver, look at something else. Buy a Sentra. More reliable, and easier to find parts for.


Second: There's a saying in the car world, "Buy the best one you can afford." The cheapest way to go in the long run is to buy one that's already done. Projects not only take forever, but will end up costing you more money that one that's already finished. $5000 can get you a pretty nice driver. Don't underestimate the L series engines, ESPECIALLY if you're only 18. The last thing you need is power that is beyond your capabilities. AN SR20 will leave you with a wrecked 510. In fact, I would recommend an L series. They're the easiest to work on, and you can learn a lot on those, and that knowledge will later transfer to the more complex dual-cam fuel injected engines.

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Back in 1998, when I was 17, I worked as a dishwasher/busboy to save up $750 for my first 510. A bone stock 2 door. Good engine, everything worked, nice original paint and very nice interior. Drove that car (almost) everyday. Rebuilt the L16, and lowered it, and loved it. Powerful enough for a teenager and fun enough for anyone!




Then I wrecked it.

My next 510 came with the insurance money from the first one. I too had plans for a big engine, fast car, tough sound, beefy brakes and suspension, blah blah blah. I bought a red four door in very original condition, new paint, auto trans. I had also already gotten my VG30 and the Experimental Engineering install kit. Not chump change, there's never enough money for this kind of path. The car sat for almost 3 years without running. Nothing like owning a 510 and not driving it, let me tell you. The VG really made a difference in the speed (!!!!!!!!), but it totally changed the "feel" of the car from the L series. Ruined it is what I feel now. Should've rebuilt the L16 and rolled with it. Sold it for 1/3rd of what I had in it when my first son was born.




Fast forward 10 years.

When I wanted another 510, as a 30 year old, I know, with experience, to get something that runs reliably, has no electrical issues, is easy to work on (L series), and is fun to drive. Looks don't hurt, especially with a wife! Got it too, and paid enough for it.




Buy what you want, but make sure that you won't regret your decision in the (near) future. Take your dad or your mom or your uncle or an older neighbor (60-80 year olds have SOOO much knowledge to share!) with you to look over the car. Will you be able to afford tag, title, registration, gas, insurance, upkeep, tools, parts, etc? Would your parents volunteer any financial support?

Most importantly, get one that is complete and fully functioning, with a solid interior.


Remain calm and be patient. Pray (seriously!) and the right car will drop into your lap!


Enjoy the ride.

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Ditto that! You don't find Datsuns, Datsuns find you. My buddy Brett had to get me over his house to look at the 510 he wanted to sell me because I just wasn't interested at the time. Then I saw it and he made me a sweet deal, and I've had it ever since. Can't beat $350 running, with a bent lower control arm. Still able to drive on and off the trailer!

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Ditto that! You don't find Datsuns, Datsuns find you.




It's true!!!


Saw my '76 in town and talked the old boy up. No interest except it being an exceptionally nice 710 goon..... meanwhile my '74 was offered to me for a dash and a dizzy. Wasn't looking or wanting it. Got thinking about it, went and looked at it, fell in love and got it........ Dropped by next year to sho the old boy my new '74 and found the old boy had passed, his widow was thinking of selling it......... (lost the '74 to my wife, so)........ went and saw the widow and arraigned to buy the '76 in 6 months if it wasn't sold. Not sold so bought it.

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Mine found me too. Looking for one for about a year, almost ready to give up & one day out of the blue a guy named Tony pm'd me on the 510realm & told me he had one for sale. Pictures sent to me, talking back & forth finally setting up a deal & I paid him & had it shipped up to Alabama from south Florida. Tony was straight up & i had no surprises when it got here. Search on "searchtempest.com" the right one will come to you. If you NEED to drive it every day think about another car. Mine needs lots of work but if you love the car it's worth it.

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