I managed to fix my ignition issues after a long, protracted battle with a parts-bin rebuilt EI distributor. I'm still using a loaned EI stator, however the parts are easier to find when you know what you're looking for. The fix is guessed at in my thread in the Technical Archives, however even that "solution" doesn't address the various fluky failures and non-function of the various things I tried over the last two months (including swapping to points - likely another first for an SR20DE!).
So, what's it like to drive? Initial impressions are very good. It's not a hot-rod 510, it's not a max-power 510, it's not a canyon-carver either. For what it is, for what I built it for, I feel I've achieved the goals I set out for myself and the car.
The engine, even with guessed-at carb settings, runs well. I have a friend with a WBO2 setup and laptop for logging, so I plan to meet with him and spend an hour or so tuning the carbs. Provided I don't have to roll my own needles, it shouldn't take but a few miles. As I still have to buy air horns and air filters, I'll have to run the WBO2 setup again to adjust as necessary. In my past SU experimentations I found that the air horns (call 'em stub stacks, velocity stacks, what have you) made the most difference to performance.
As I haven't ventured past ~5000rpm yet, I can't really make a conclusion regarding power and quickness of the car. It's massively quicker than stock, but it remains to be seen how it will compare with my KA 510 (and its documented 145WHP). As mentioned earlier in this project, I have every intention of taking Whitebird to the dyno once things are tuned and I'm happy with how it runs.
Thankfully, the initially-bleedin'-loud exhaust note has toned down. It's still deep at idle as indicated in the first-run video, however I was getting extremely loud exhaust noise during the intial, flawed drives. As this ended up being due to the retarding-with-revs ignition issues, the guess is that ignition was occuring far after top dead center, and as such, likely the exhaust valves were beginning to open while combustion was still occuring. As it is now, it is quieter than general road/driving noise while at cruise, yet it still barks if you put your foot in it. Again, as I haven't actually ventured to where the power is made in an SR, this is just a first impression, but first impressions are that it sounds very nice. Not new-car quiet, but not hooligan-loud, either. So, my initial thoughts regarding exhaust sizing seems to have been proven out, which is good.
I have not yet had the car aligned, so handling remains a category for later analysis. However, the ride quality is about spot-on with what I was aiming for. I still have a set of progressive-rate coilover springs I want to try once I get more familiar with the way the straight-rate springs perform. Still, the car is stable, but not overly stiff. Botts dots still send the impact through the structure, but that seems to be a 510 trait.
Brake shoes are still to be bedded in properly, but there's no reason they won't grab as effectively as the used parts I removed and replaced. I'm still convinced they'll do, as I have experience with them previously. They're not going to be the last word in braking peformance, but as mentioned before, I've been there and done that, and didn't end up using 'em. For the overall build style for Whitebird, and my driving style (and experience), they're perfect. Part of it is to retain the four-wheel-drums just for the originality aspect.
And, overall, the car looks surprisingly stock. To non-510 enthusiasts, it would probably pass for stock, especially once I'm done with the SR valve cover. It'll be fun when people ask what a "Whitebird" is.
Driving the car is a real kick, and I'm very happy with having sourced a RHD Bluebird as my current project car. My surroundng community is especially staid and conservative, so something like a RHD car gets some attention. Or it will, my wife rode along for the first drive, so most people thought she was driving.
I don't have a big list of future work to do on the car, which is kind of surprising. I'm sure I'll come up with something besides the progressive front springs. But I can't think of anything offhand.