What Made The Datsun 510 Bluebird Coupe So Special?
We’re big fans of Japanese Nostalgic Car here at Petrolicious, and have decided to launch a series on historically-significant Japanese cars. Along with our recent 510 video, JNC has written a great history of the Bluebird Coupe, a condensed version of which is shared here.
Story by: Ben Hsu // Photography by: Jeremey Heslup
Nowadays there are few cars from Japan’s Miracle Years that escape the collector’s eye, but long before every grandma’s Toyota Corona or obscure Isuzu was sought for by street tuner and speculator alike, the Datsun 510 stood alone at the forefront of the classic J-tin vanguard.
Cars like the Toyota 2000GT or Datsun 240Z were always going to become blue chip collectables. Hugely expensive low-production grand tourers and widely beloved best-selling sports cars were destined for classic-dom, but a budget compact marketed on its affordable price ($1,990) and its fuel efficiency (30-plus miles per gallon)? For decades while Japanese cars of similar provenance were being sent to the crusher by the thousands, the Datsun 510 was being hoarded, tuned, raced, and most importantly, loved.
Like any plebeian transport turned cult classic, the Datsun 510 came in a variety of body styles for the masses. Upon its August 1967 introduction in Japan, where it was named the Bluebird, Nissan offered a trio of shapes: the standard-issue 4-door sedan, a family-oriented station wagon, and the sportsman’s alternative, a 2-door sedan. Likewise, when the car came stateside as the Datsun 510 — apparently Nissan didn’t think us Americans secure enough in our manhood to drive a “bird” that wasn’t emitting fire or thunder — those same three styles were made.
But why a 2-door sedan and not a coupe? Well in November of 1968, Nissan added a fourth body style to the lineup, a true coupe featuring a completely redesigned greenhouse portion and a much “faster” back window and C-pillar. The Bluebird Coupe would be the halo car of the 510 series, well-appointed and sleek for a time when the inconvenience of two doors and less rear headroom, not towering over others in traffic in a mobile lounge, was the epitome of automotive cool.
To learn the rest of the Bluebird Coupe’s story—and why this unique car quickly made its mark on history, head over to Japanese Nostalgic Car for the rest of the retrospective.