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Family Car: an Introduction


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Hello, my name is Michael, I live in southern California. I have inherited A three generation family owned '72 wagon. It was purchased new by my great grandma with the help of my mom's employee discount(mom hade a sage colored 4door.) It spent the next 20 years in Cave Junction, Or. In 1994 my great grandma died and so my mom received the wagon. We drove it daily for 11 years, until my mom's dad passed away and my mom bought a Nissan Sentra 1.8.

The Wagon has been sitting for a couple years and now I want to fix it up. I would like to make it a strong dependable "fuel efficient" car. I don't care about 12 second 1/4 miles. I just want a car that can handle 75 mph up The 5 to Seattle, and hauling friends out to Death Valley for some bike rides.


Does anyone have any tips for "should be mandatory" upgrades. I want to upgrade to IE, and eventually a 5spd.






This is the beast, sadly the sun has taken its toll in graying out the paint.

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In my personal view there would be a few things.


upgrade to 280zx front brakes/struts - nothing wrong with better brakes and easier to get parts/cheaper

replace shocks if needed - of course

upgrade to a EFI Ka24de with 5spd - reliable, cheap motor with plentiful parts that are cheap


it also couldn't hurt to modernize as much of the wiring as possible!

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It also depends on your budget. LeX has great ideas, but the KA swap can be a bit expensive, unless you want the KA to begin with.


Agreed, 280ZX brake swap is a must. Availability of parts being the big factor.


Keeping the old girl with an L-Series motor, get the Electronic Ignition Distributor and Coil from a Later model L20B motor. It is a literal "set it and forget it" No more points, no more fiddling with the distributor. An easy upgrade for sure. You mentioned it, and some people hesitate (like I had) but trust me, well worth it.


And on the same L-Series kick, get a downdraft Weber 32/36 with electric choke. The performance difference is more than noticible, and you, much like me, do not need to worry about smog checks here in SoCal.


Mostly, it depends on what you want for it. Its been in the family for a long time, keeping it stock-ish may be what you want, or maybe not. I wanted stock-ish as I got my car from my parents, years ago when I was in high school. Nothing like the L-series reliability, but it has it's cost, especially in the performance department. Nothing like a KA24.


Welcome to the forum, thanks for the picture and we will look forward to watching the progress of this car!

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Welcome to ratsun. nice goon :D

I did the stuff zerow said. EI, new weber, header 1 1/2 " exhaust, My wagon runs great. I also did the 200SX 5sp trans. doing the 280ZX front now. If i ever finish it, It should make a good driver, With the 5 sp I can cruz in the fast lane and not get run over. :eek:

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The 1600, 1800 and 2000cc L motors don't get too much wildly different fuel milages if you stick with a stock carb or a 32/36 weber. I personally prefer the 2000cc L motor in the wagon as I usually haul stuff around in the back as well as my family. Upgrading to the EI is a very good idea on any of the old L motors and the added torque really helps there. You should look at upgrading to the 200sx 5 speed transmission, especially if you are running the 1600 or 1800cc engine. This 5 speed requires the least amount of modification to use and is most suitable to the low powered L motors on the highway because of it's .854 overdrive 5th gear as opposed to the other 5 speeds lower gearing.


The suspension I'd stay with stock as well as the brakes, they just need to be refurbished and rebuilt with new parts to work well. Upgrade the spring rates up front to something in the 120-150lb area and perhaps add a leaf to match in the rear. You should probably upgrade to a thicker front sway bar with the softer spring rates and a rear sway bar for less oversteer. Last, but not least, upgrading to a 14"x6" wheel will give you way better tire choices for improved handling.


This'll probably give you a vintage wagon that's about the same in handling and performance as most econo boxes sold today. Only thing you'll be a bit short on from these is your fuel milage, pretty much stuck there with what the old L motors can do ....

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Sitting for a few years, hmm


1. Car wash :D

2. Oil Change or replace all fluids for that matter

3. NGK spark plug and wires

Spark plug-B6ES

Stock # 7432

Wire Set

Part # NE64

Stock # 9828

4. Weber 3236 w/ adapter

5. JH59X---Bluestreak distro cap wbrass contacts

6. Pertronix Igniter part # 1741 or Nissan EI

7. 12V Ignition coil (Jacobs or MSD blaster)



Your Datsun 510 is now "dependable" again with better MPG.

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My suggestion is a complete tune up. Watch the boards for a set of SU's. They are an easy 20-30% upgrade in power and efficiency. If a swap is in the works I'd go with an L20 overbored to fit L28 pistons use a u67 head giving you about 9:1 compression. I would use a 5 speed and this with a lower stance gave me 32 mpg with a gentle foot.

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I guess I went a bit overboard with saying just get the KA24 setup, although the power I had in my wagon with L18 twin SU and 200sx 5spd was pretty good for 1 person if I was carting around a bunch of people/gear I would probably want something more powerful. The idea of a new carb and a 5spd though will definitely see a good bit of improvement!


I still stick to 280zx brakes though! Safety is important and they are cheap :)

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I agree with big power (Ka24....) = big brakes (280zx brakes)

Won't call 510 brakes poor design.

Good working brakes on a 510 stops very well.

Put better pads and shoes stops even better.


Keep in mind that 280zx brake setup is heavier and requires 280zx MC for proper operation of it.

Added weight will not help on the MPG.


His intent is to make it realiable again and get better MPG.

Fuel efficiency is relative.

510's are considered fuel efficient then but not now.

Fuel efficient cars now in compact car category is like 30+

Has anyone able to get close to 30MPG on their stock or modified L motor?

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I guess I went a bit overboard with saying just get the KA24 setup, :)


No that's not overboard. There is an FJ20ET engine, trannie, and manifolds(no turbo, brain, or harness) available locally on ebay. Starting bid was $100. I was really considering getting it, then I remembered I might have to cut and weld to make it fit, which i don't have the tools for, yet.


I am no longer affraid of fuel injection, I think port injection would be awesome

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510's are considered fuel efficient then but not now.

Fuel efficient cars now in compact car category is like 30+

Has anyone able to get close to 30MPG on their stock or modified L motor?



In my 69 goon I saw as high as 32 on long trips but I had to hold the throttle steady instead of adding power to go up hills. great milage is possible just not easy.


If you want better milage figure out how to fit a ga16de in there and an A-series 5-speed (it will bolt up mosly). variable valve timing, an honest 110hp, decent torque, and a good tall O/D. I think this would get you mid 30s for milage.

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there's a good chance it will go beyond $1K

Buyers are waiting at the last minute to bid

I'm one of them :lol:


Resistance is futile


I have the guys number I think :confused:...he called Troy and said I could have the whole set up for $250 bucks but I had to drive down and pick it up. food for thought... I have more money in parts in my FJ's than alot of guys have into doing a full KA swap, they are great engines and sound great at 7500rpm but honestly if I had to do it over SR or KA would be the choice for a swap.


sorry about the thread jacking

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