1970 Nissan Datsun 510 - Photo by mdspeedster
As generations of enthusiasts the world over have come to appreciate, the 510 (called the Bluebird in its home market) isn’t just another early Japanese economy sedan—it is an excellent driver, as well. That isn’t just a happy coincidence. The 510 was already largely designed (with the sheetmetal penned by Teruo Uchino in Japan, not Pininfarina as its predecessor the 410 had been) when Yutaka Katayama caught wind of the project and used his forceful personality to change the direction of the project. As the head of Nissan’s US operations, the bona fide car enthusiast and eventual “father” of the 240Z got on the nerves of his comrades back in Japan by loudly asking for a performance motor to find its way into the diminutive sedan. His persistence paid off when Nissan merged with Prince Motor Company, bringing with them the Prince family of advanced SOHC engines (related to the units found in the early Skyline GT-Rs and later Z-cars). The engineering trickled down to the 510 project, and the 1.6-liter that resulted produces 95 horsepower and 100 ft-lbs. of torque. Considering the 510 weighs barely more than a ton, it’s quick by the standards of the time. When the 510 hit American shores badged as a Datsun, it offered buyers a unique combination of features at a low price, undercutting the BMW 1600-2 (a car with very similar specifications) by nearly a fifth of the BMW’s price. The 510 is also famous for its highly successful career in SCCA racing with the Brock Racing Enterprises team, paving the way for acceptance of Japanese performance cars. History aside, it won’t take long behind the wheel in-game to reveal the stock car’s many charms, but the “Dime” really shines in the Upgrade Shop—the robust 510 was heavily overbuilt and is therefore happy to accept significant modifications.