1971 Datsun 1600 Wagon 510-Series: Reader Resto

By: Adam Burke with Dave Carey, Photography by: Darren Gerlach, Adam Burke

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Datsun 1600 wagon front side 2 1971 Datsun 1600 Wagon 510-Series Datsun 1600 wagon front side 2
Datsun 1600 wagon side view 3 1971 Datsun 1600 Wagon 510-Series Datsun 1600 wagon side view 3
Datsun 1600 wagon hot wheels 1971 Datsun 1600 Wagon 510-Series Datsun 1600 wagon hot wheels
Datsun 1600 wagon rear badge 1971 Datsun 1600 Wagon 510-Series Datsun 1600 wagon rear badge
Datsun 1600 wagon wheel 1971 Datsun 1600 Wagon 510-Series Datsun 1600 wagon wheel
Datsun 1600 wagon engine bay 1971 Datsun 1600 Wagon 510-Series Datsun 1600 wagon engine bay
Datsun 1600 wagon engine detail 1971 Datsun 1600 Wagon 510-Series Datsun 1600 wagon engine detail
Datsun 1600 wagon engine detail02 1971 Datsun 1600 Wagon 510-Series Datsun 1600 wagon engine detail02
Datsun 1600 wagon interior rear 2 1971 Datsun 1600 Wagon 510-Series Datsun 1600 wagon interior rear 2
Datsun 1600 wagon inteior front 1971 Datsun 1600 Wagon 510-Series Datsun 1600 wagon inteior front
Datsun 1600 wagon steering wheel 1971 Datsun 1600 Wagon 510-Series Datsun 1600 wagon steering wheel

How a ropey Datsun 1600 wagon morphed into a Hot Wheels hero car and a career in the auto trade

 

1971 Datsun 1600 Wagon

I bought this car on Wednesday 10 March, 1999; my older brother picked it up for me; I didn’t even have my licence yet! My dad’s neighbour was pretty handy with cars and told me not to buy it, my family told me not to buy it; everyone said "Don’t buy it," so yeah…I bought it!

I got my P-plates on May 1, 1999 and, as a P-plater, you tend to get scrutinised a bit more, so I got pulled over for the race seat and the fact the passenger seat didn’t have a headrest when it should have. Furthermore, it was still registered as a 1600 but had the L20 (2 litre) in there, so the engine number and capacity didn’t line up.

Datsun -1600-wagon -before

I had to take it to ‘Regency’ (SA’s central vehicle inspection station) and they went over the whole car, adding multiple rust holes and frayed seat belts in the front to the list. They also reckon it should have had rear seat belts; it never had them from new, but who was I to argue?

My Dad’s mate helped with the rust repairs, which I had to leave in bare metal for the Regency guys to inspect. I also sourced a correct driver’s seat and some headrests, plus new belts all around. It took three months to get back on the road; it was my daily so it had to get done!

Datsun -1600-wagon -front -side

I drove it for a couple of years as-bought, aside from the defect repairs, of course. I decided to source a set of Globe Montegos, otherwise known as ‘Sigma Turbo’ rims and put them on in March 2001.

In June 2001, I pulled it off the road to respray it, rebuild the motor and re-do the interior. I painted it burgundy red, having no idea that Hot Wheels would eventually make a model the same shape and colour!

Datsun -1600-wagon -hot -wheels -car

Thanks to the earlier defect work, it didn’t need any body repairs and was really straight, although I had replaced a door when I backed out of the shed and caught it on the way out. Back then, replacement second-hand doors weren’t expensive or hard to source!

Engine-wise the L20 wasn’t too bad; we rebuilt it with slightly-oversized flat-top pistons and that’s about all. There was already a mild cam in there and the side-draught Weber. We just checked over everything and put it back together.

Datsun -1600-wagon -engine -bay -2

The trim was pretty sun-damaged when I got it; plus everything gets trashed in the back end of a wagon! The rear roof hinge cover had a big crack in it and the boot was trimmed in house carpet!

I wasn’t a motor trimmer at this point, but I decided to give the interior a go myself anyway. I bought a pair of good-enough aftermarket seats, retrimmed the rear bench, re-carpeted the floor and trimmed the rear hinge cover in vinyl, covering the crack. This was the tipping point; I really enjoyed the work, so I started a trimming apprenticeship.

Datsun -1600-wagon -interior -rear

I had the car mostly finished by March 2002 but had to fit the carpet I’d just made at my new job, so I drove it to the servo with the seats and belts just finger-tight.

Then I got pulled over and defected again; the seats were wobbly, the horn didn’t work and my wheels only had three lugnuts each as I didn’t put the lock nuts on. I only had a few things to go, but it was back to Regency again! This time though, the body was good.

Datsun -1600-wagon -interior -rear -3

The defect was lifted on 17 May, 2002, and from then on, the Datsun became a weekender. I took it off the road again in April 2008 to re-do the trim; by this time I was in business for myself.

I pulled out the interior, removed the Sigma Turbo rims and sold them with a second wagon I’d bought. Last I heard, that particular car was in California (I know: I was the one that saw it – Dave).

Datsun -1600-wagon -interior -front -2

It took five years to get back on the road; I was running a business, so time just ran away. I was trying to think up what to do about the trim; I knew it had to be good! New seats, carpet, and a wood-grained centre console replicating the JDM Bluebird SSS item all went in.

Once I’d nailed it, it hit the road with new trim, polished stainless, a tidied engine bay and the old stockies-and-hubbies-combo, but not long after, Hot Wheels released the Super Treasure Hunt 510 wagon.

Datsun -1600-wagon -stickers

Japanese American Hot Wheels designer Jun Imai built up a US-spec 510 wagon in the ‘shakotan’ style of his forefathers; old-school power, extremely low on wide rims and narrow tyres with the ‘hippari stretch’. It really rattled the US custom scene, so Hot Wheels made a model of it, except instead being green like Jun’s actual car, they made it burgundy!

It’s a bit Inception-y – the Hot Wheels is a replica of Jun’s car, albeit in a different colour. Mine is then a replica of the model that is a replica of Jun’s car, except mine was first!
Thanks to the fortunate choice of colour all those years ago, building it into a Super Treasure Hunt replica was relatively easy; I found the 15in XXR alloys online and fitted some tyres with the requisite ‘hippari stretch’, then sourced a JDM 510 Bluebird grille locally.

Datsun -1600-wagon -front -wheel

The BRE (Brock Racing Enterprises; after American Pete Brock)-style front air dam was made in Adelaide; Jun’s is actually a VW Golf item! I then shelved the bumpers.

I got the stickers replicated the same as the model, except for the Japanese under the gumball; that turned out to be a Kanji symbol combined with Katakana letters spelling his name, ‘IMAI’ in English, so I did the same thing; mine says ‘DATO’!

The reaction this car gets is just amazing!

THE RESTORATION

BODY

Datsun -1600-wagon -body -before

The body turned out to be surprisingly rust-free for a 1600, needing only minor repair work to turn out a super-clean paint job.

TRIM

Datsun -1600-wagon -interior -seats -before

The combination of Recaro driver’s seat with tired, stock interior would prove to be the 1600s undoing, attracting the attention of the law.

CONSOLE

Datsun -1600-wagon -interior -console

Adam tried his hand at a custom centre console, which inspired an entire career change! He completed a trimmer’s apprenticeship and now runs AJ Trim.

ENGINE: L20 POWER

Datsun -1600-wagon -engine

Although relatively stock, the 1600 had copped some go-fast bits including a strong L20 2.0 litre Datsun motor with side-draught Weber.

FINISHED

Datsun -1600-wagon -side -view

Mods are extensive but the owner clearly has a good eye for what works.

Datsun -1600-wagon -adam -burke

SPECIFICATIONS

1971 Datsun 600 Wagon (510-Series)

ENGINE Datsun L20 2.0 litre
TRANSMISSION Bluebird 5-speed
LENGTH 4145mm
WIDTH 1560mm
HEIGHT 1435mm
WHEELBASE 2420mm
KERB WEIGHT 940kg

 

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