DQ 10.2 - Suggestions for New 510 Owners

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okayfine
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DQ 10.2 - Suggestions for New 510 Owners

Postby okayfine » 27 Jul 2009 15:00

The latest DQ hit my mailbox this afternoon. In it is an article I wrote regarding suggestions for new 510 owners. This is a culmination of suggestions from the BB list and The Realm and, hopefully, will serve new owners well. It will eventually be linked on the DQ home page, but I felt it should also be posted here (and on the BB list) as it is that sort of information. So, herein I present to you: Suggestions for New 510 Owners!

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You’ve just bought your first 510. You’re very excited, in fact you’re geeked. You can’t wait to get home and start stripping the car for paint, to start turning wrenches and yank that ol’ L-series out of the way. What’s the next step after parking that 510 in your driveway for the first time? This article is meant as a guide to the new 510 owner, exploring the common wisdom of how to and how not to tackle and tame the excitement finally buying a 510 brings. Many of the suggestions that follow also apply to the 510 owner who has stepped up to the purchase of a swapped 510. The learning curve begins anew with the introduction of EFI, ECUs, and the other assorted bits common in a modern, swapped 510.

Service Manuals
The first thing a 510 owner should purchase after their 510 is a service manual. Many of the basic questions are answered in the various service manuals and having that information readily available gets the new owner to begin learning, researching, and developing mechanical skills on their own. For new owners of swapped 510s, purchasing the Nissan factory service manual covering the specific year of the engine swap is vital.

I very much recommend the "How To Keep Your Datsun Alive" book written by Colim Messer and published by John Muir Publications. For stock mechanicals nothing surpasses it. It isn't common these days, being out of print, however they can still be found for reasonable amounts of money to this day and, even at $40, it is easily worth double that to a new 510 owner. Sadly, this book doesn't tackle the electrical side of things, so another reference book with electrical troubleshooting and a wiring diagram will be necessary.

How to Keep Your Datsun L-Series-Z-Series Nissan Alive
ISBN: 031764890X

Factory Service manuals are available for viewing here.

Wiring Diagrams
A wiring diagram for your year and transmission type is also a vital purchase, one which should accompany or quickly follow the purchase of a service manual. Some service manuals such as the factory service manual and the Haynes book include a black-and-white diagram that is laid out across the page spread. This will work in a pinch, but is difficult to read in the best of conditions. Currently Paolo Musante offers up a mammoth 22” x 34” laminated wiring diagram, or a “standard” 11” x 17” version.

http://tinyurl.com/Paolowiring

Contact Paolo at paolo@cedarcomm.com or 360-657-2700.

Alternatively, Kelvin Dietz has generously given permission to distribute his original color wiring diagram. Specifically for a late two-door sedan with manual trans, it's way better than any of the factory diagrams. Available from The 510 Archives here:

510 Wiring Diagram

Bill Fant has also been generous and allowed me to host his simplified start/charging diagrams.

The Dime, Quarterly Newsletter
DQ was the last technical 510 newsletter going. Over the 12 years of its publication it has covered many pertinent topics to a depth not commonly seen in other club newsletters. DQ articles are well-written and clearly photographed/illustrated. DQ ended publication in mid-2012.

The DQ backissues collection is strongly recommended. Much has been covered by DQ and that information is current and not going out of date quickly. Many printed issues are still available, but DQ has made the complete backissue collection available in .PDF format at The 510 Archives.

DQ has transitioned from its old website to the DQ blog. There you'll find some online versions of past articles.

The Dime, Quarterly @ The 510 Archives:

All issues of UFO Reports and of FiveTen Again are also available at The 510 Archives.

The Internet: Forums
The internet changed 510 ownership as no other technology has. There are many, many 510-related forums on the internet. Some are focused more on a specific region, some on a specific style of modification, and some are sub-forums of Nissan forums or industry magazines. With the abundance of choice, a suitable match of content and style can easily be found. Recommended as an established and well-rounded 510 forum is The 510 Realm. The 510 Realm also features a usable search engine.

A suggestion after registering for the Bluebird list or any forum is to lurk for a while. Spend a few weeks reading current posts to see how registered members interact and share. Each group has a different style. Once you’ve acquainted yourself with the Bluebird’s list or one of the 510-centric forums, introduce yourself and post a couple pictures of your car. Every other member is also a car geek and wants to see your car whether it’s a basket case or a previously-restored SR20DET monster.

When you do post a problem or question to the internet, ensure you’re providing as much information as possible. Whether you have a problem or question, the more information you provide the better and more directed the response you’ll receive. If you’ve got a problem keeping your L16 idling and you provide a comprehensive summary of what, when, where, and how and also detail the steps you’ve taken to diagnose and/or troubleshoot the issue, the responses you receive won’t be filled with questions regarding what, when, where, and how and won’t contain the basic diagnostic steps common to your problem. If you’re posting about an issue you can’t figure out, that’s what the internet is for; asking spark plug gap measurement or the torque measurement for the front hub is what a service manual is for.

Help Us Help You - A Novice Mechanic's Guide To Asking For Help.

Don’t Get In Over Your Head
It is easy to get excited about buying a 510. Don’t let that excitement blind you to the true condition of the car you are considering. Research what you should know when you go to look at a car. The 510, like all cars, has particular trouble spots. In addition to that, assess your own skills and consider them when looking at a 510. You won’t satisfy your urge to have a 510 if you can’t fix the car you buy. Don’t rely on the internet to fix your car for you.

Datsun 510 Buyer's Guide

If the car is not running (or has issues running reliably), do you have the knowledge and tools to set about diagnosing the problem and rectifying it? Buying a non-running car is always a gamble and for the first-time 510 owner may not be worth the “savings” versus what a running car will cost. That savings could quickly be eaten up by downtime, parts cost, and intervention by a mechanic if it is discovered that the car has problems beyond your ability to repair. If the car isn’t running it isn’t possible to check many of the systems of the car and you’ll have to take the word of the seller as to the condition.

A running 510 is the best option, obviously. A new 510 owner can come to terms with the car on their terms, and can gain familiarity with the car’s mechanical and electrical systems over time via small improvement projects. As knowledge is gained and diagnosing skills are refined, bigger issues/problems/modifications will be easier to tackle.

Now, with the research and information angles taken care of, what should be the next step along the path of 510 ownership? Overflowing enthusiasm notwithstanding, a big project should be the last thing on your mind.

Keep It Alive
A new 510 owner will inevitably find himself dreaming of glorious SR20DET power, four-wheel coilovers, big brakes, and a custom interior. Sadly, these grand dreams most often end in a parted-out project. This isn’t always due to a lack of time or money, but is almost always due to a lack of planning and a lack of ability.

Every 510 will need some work. Some cars will need more work than others. A new 510 shouldn’t be immediately thrust into a project, especially if the owner is new to 510s himself. Take time to take stock of the car. What does the car need to be a reliable driver? Does it need work just to turn over the engine? Does it have rust? Will it drive at all? While keeping engine swap plans in the background, focus on making the car reliable. An engine swap is a large project in itself, it will be made much more difficult if there are issues with the base 510 prior to the swap.

While learning about the stock 510 mechanicals (and helped by the “How To Keep Your Datsun Alive” book), new 510 owners will begin to develop their mechanical skills. Troubleshooting, diagnosis, and repair of parts is what makes a mechanic; simply whipping out a credit card and throwing parts at the problem does not. Ownership of a 510 without mechanical abilities is not an issue as they will be developed over the course of 510 ownership. Attempting to own a 510 without a desire to develop mechanical abilities is a mistake.

Retain “Old” Parts
There will come a time when a new 510 owner will look to upgrade parts of his 510. This is not only expected, it is practically a requirement. The wisdom here is to not throw out functional “old” parts that are being changed for upgrades. Datsun parts are becoming harder and harder to come by and 510 ownership takes so many twists and turns one can never say, “I will never need these bumper overriders, I’m removing them and tossing them in the trash.”

Someone will always need the parts being thrown away. Maybe not today, maybe not next year, but the parts situation is dire enough to guarantee someone will have a need for “old” parts. Whether that turns into a money-making opportunity or a barter situation depends on the part and the condition, but “old” parts will always have some value to someone.

And that someone may be the owner offering up the parts. Taking a stock 510 and turning it into a resto-mod, swapped 510 may result in a pile of stock parts that are “worthless.” However, it may come to pass that the resto-mod 510 gets sold and possession is taken of another 510 closer to stock that needs those “worthless” parts. Paying again for parts sold in haste will have a bitter taste.

Plan Major Projects
All major restorations and modifications of 510s are finished in part because the owner had a solid plan. DQ showed subscribers some of the behind-the-scenes work that goes in to a successful 510 project with the “Reader’s Project” series of articles. It takes a lot of research to determine the desired modifications and even the best type of car to start from. From there, acquiring all the necessary parts is a project in itself, whether shelling out the cash gets them delivered or welding steel creates them in the garage. If the owner cannot perform all the modifications himself, a serious questioning of the plan should be undertaken. It is a helpless feeling to stare at a 510 project in the garage, immobile because of someone else’s timetable.

The more prepared the owner is, the greater the chance of ultimate success. Even if the owner finds himself waiting for parts to be delivered or fabricated, following the mantra of “Just Do Something” will keep the project rolling, if somewhat slower than originally anticipated. Budgets will be exceeded, timelines will be pushed out, concepts will change over time. Being prepared for these things will help reduce their impact on a project.

However, if the basics aren’t taken care of, a fun project will become a pain, and only masochists like pain. Any major project will need the research done and parts purchased or fabricated, but it will also need a place to work on the car long-term, the understanding of all involved (be they parents, girlfriends, wives), the time to work on the car, and owner motivation to see the project completed successfully.

How To Plan A Project.

What's one common major project? Engine swap. Which Engine Should You Run?

And if you've just joined to sell a car: How To Sell Your Car

If you've joined to look for help bringing an abandoned 510 back to life: Bringing Neglected 510s Back To Life
Last edited by okayfine on 06 Oct 2014 07:53, edited 10 times in total.
Because when you spend a silly amount of money on a silly, trivial thing that will help you not one jot, you are demonstrating that you have a soul and a heart and that you are the sort of person who has no time for Which? magazine. – Jeremy Clarkson

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Re: DQ 10.2 - Suggestions for New 510 Owners

Postby five&dime » 27 Jul 2009 16:21

New members should be required to read this before they're even allowed to post!!!
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Re: DQ 10.2 - Suggestions for New 510 Owners

Postby qwik510 » 27 Jul 2009 17:38

Excellent article Julian.

Well written and very informative.

As said above, this should be mandatory reading before being allowed to post here.
Enjoy The Ride!
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Re: DQ 10.2 - Suggestions for New 510 Owners

Postby datzenmike » 27 Jul 2009 18:30

After reading that it's no wonder you are the resident 'rag on the noob' poster.Image I mean this in a good way. :mrgreen: Singlehandedly, you have probably saved at least a half dozen 510s and sent the would be owners whimpering to a Honda lot. Good stuff.
"Nissan 'shit the bed' when they made these, plain and simple." McShagger510 on flattop SUs

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Re: DQ 10.2 - Suggestions for New 510 Owners

Postby bertvorgon » 29 Jul 2009 06:21

THAT....is excellent...it should be posted as a STICKY...and each new person signing up should be linked to that
right away.
"Racing makes heroin addiction look like a vague wish for something salty" - Peter Egan

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Re: DQ 10.2 - Suggestions for New 510 Owners

Postby qwik510 » 29 Jul 2009 07:33

bertvorgon wrote:THAT....is excellent...it should be posted as a STICKY...and each new person signing up should be linked to that
right away.


Better yet, It should be set up as mandatory reading before being allowed to post! :P
Enjoy The Ride!
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Re: DQ 10.2 - Suggestions for New 510 Owners

Postby banzai510(hainz) » 30 Jul 2009 10:53

"Suggestions for New 510 Owners"


Buy one done already that someone spent his money on. Buy at 40- 50% off what it would cost you to do it your self with new parts.Buy High Roller car!
example I invested 25K$ in to my 510
sold for 12-15K on ebay

Jeff and Frank have picked up alot of projects for dirt cheap!!!!!!!!!!Cause owners had BIG dreams, small wallets ,no garage and mecahincal skills of a Spider Monkey w/Polio.

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Re: DQ 10.2 - Suggestions for New 510 Owners

Postby okayfine » 30 Jul 2009 10:59

banzai510(hainz) wrote:Buy one done already that someone spent his money on. Buy at 40- 50% off what it would cost you to do it your self with new parts.Buy High Roller car!


For the people the article is directed at, I think that would be a bigger mistake than buying too low on the food chain. To be sure, there have been and will be some awesome values out there on abandoned project cars, even completed, swapped cars, but I wouldn't suggest any of them to a new 510 owner - at least any that would get any wisdom out of my article.

Buying up a big-dollar abandoned project, even at 50% off, still leaves the new owner with less than no clue how to complete the car if it needs it, or how to fix it if it's gone wrong. No knowledge, no plan, possibly no dollars...eesh.

Unless I knew well the person who built a swapped 510 I was considering buying, I don't know that I would, just due to all the unknown factors of the builder and how he built it.

banzai510(hainz) wrote:Jeff and Frank have picked up alot of projects for dirt cheap!!!!!!!!!!Cause owners had BIG dreams, small wallets ,no garage and mecahincal skills of a Spider Monkey w/Polio.


No offense, but that's part of what I'm trying to avoid. Not to put you guys out of business, but to keep all the 510s on the road that aren't located near you guys.
Because when you spend a silly amount of money on a silly, trivial thing that will help you not one jot, you are demonstrating that you have a soul and a heart and that you are the sort of person who has no time for Which? magazine. – Jeremy Clarkson

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Re: DQ 10.2 - Suggestions for New 510 Owners

Postby banzai510(hainz) » 30 Jul 2009 12:07

OK fine,I was talking running complete cars. I remember a Red SR20DET from Arizona. Sold for $7k

Most 510 owners are entry level mechanics( I was too) and knew nothing, Thats why you see alot of beat Hondas,240sx,AE86s ect.

Project cars you get even cheaper and then you might not still want it. Low ball them and walk away!!!!!!



I just try to save the L motor powered vehicles now as its a simple motor you can walk a person thru and Im just happy with that.
I even go to their house and 20min later its running. I say to myself if he cant do this dont talk about SR powered cars. I just learn to accept the nature of most new YOUNG Datsun owners.

Like one , Hes going to put in a VG30/trans.But find out he dont even have the car registered in his name yet cause he dont have the money!!!!!!!!



Those are all valuable books you mention, which I have all of them and the 510 Again Bible.

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Re: DQ 10.2 - Suggestions for New 510 Owners

Postby okayfine » 30 Jul 2009 12:29

banzai510(hainz) wrote:OK fine,I was talking running complete cars. I remember a Red SR20DET from Arizona. Sold for $7k

Most 510 owners are entry level mechanics( I was too) and knew nothing, Thats why you see alot of beat Hondas,240sx,AE86s ect.


I understand. However, if you drop a noob into an SR510 and something goes wrong, then what? Sure it's great value for money as long as it runs without issue, but part of the point of the article was to, slowly, prepare the new 510 owner for the day a swapped 510 becomes a possibility. Never mind getting them a seat in a 250HP 510 when all they've ever driven were Civics...

You drop that noob into a $7,000 SR510 and there's a wiring short, or a fuel injector is clogged, or a MAF is bad, and they don't have a FSM, don't know how to deal with wiring, don't even have the basic fuel/comression/spark diagnosis/troubleshooting process down, 'cause all they've ever done is bolt on bolt-on parts, they've done themselves no favors.
Because when you spend a silly amount of money on a silly, trivial thing that will help you not one jot, you are demonstrating that you have a soul and a heart and that you are the sort of person who has no time for Which? magazine. – Jeremy Clarkson

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Re: DQ 10.2 - Suggestions for New 510 Owners

Postby ShoPow » 01 Aug 2009 14:55

Thats an awesome right up. Should be stickied.

Oh and dont knock all honda owners. Because of the Honda scene I learned an incredible deal of knowledge. Granted when I first got in to Hondas I did a motor swap with no real knowledge of how to but I figured "How hard can it be" right. Two weeks later got it running and it was the greatest feeling in the world. Learned a great deal about normal shit that most people I know didnt. Such as timing, fuel, wiring etc. Then went to chipping my own ecu, burning custom maps, piecing my own turbo setup, bla bla bla. Its all about research and good preperation. Hell I have been lurking on this site long before I got my 510 and still just lurk trying to intake all the wisdom of the 510 gods. With out all that I would have never gotten into the 510 game.
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Re: DQ 10.2 - Suggestions for New 510 Owners

Postby okayfine » 01 Aug 2009 15:06

ShoPow wrote:Its all about research and good preparation.


Don't matter where you dun come from, that there's good advice.
Because when you spend a silly amount of money on a silly, trivial thing that will help you not one jot, you are demonstrating that you have a soul and a heart and that you are the sort of person who has no time for Which? magazine. – Jeremy Clarkson

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Re: DQ 10.2 - Suggestions for New 510 Owners

Postby okayfine » 23 Sep 2009 15:24

Bump back to front page.
Because when you spend a silly amount of money on a silly, trivial thing that will help you not one jot, you are demonstrating that you have a soul and a heart and that you are the sort of person who has no time for Which? magazine. – Jeremy Clarkson

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Re: DQ 10.2 - Suggestions for New 510 Owners

Postby Turtle Motors » 22 Jan 2010 08:07

New to site and really enjoying it. I had a yellow '73 510 2 dr. auto.back in the 70's while working as a lot boy at a Datun dealer called Turtle Motors...and going to college full time nights. When the first 200sx came out with a 5 speed I got the idea to buy all the new parts and make my 510 a 5 speed. At the time there was little info on the fit up so we measured and checked this and that....and it looked like it would work. It did and was a unique fun car. Unfortunately, I couldn't stop the east coast rust demons, so I sold it. I loved that 510 and will be looking to get one again. While I lived and still do drag race in 60's muscle, that Datsun-Nissan gene is alive and well. I have a '91 300zx with internal mods that's one of my favorite drives. I'm loving the cars and the personal input on this site.....great 510 start up article.......thx for sharing.

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Re: DQ 10.2 - Suggestions for New 510 Owners

Postby mrpeach23 » 17 Feb 2010 13:41

As a new 510 owner and a beginner in general, this article is just amazing. so many tips, such good advice. thank you a lot for sharing :]

i think its better to start as a beginner and learn as you go. make mistakes and learn from them. grow with your car. it gives it so much more value then to just buy one someone else built. im sure that every one out there started as a noob and after practice and mistakes and fun got better and now some are masters. you have to start from the bottom to get to the top. this site is so damn informative and helpful. i cant wait to get started on my project!!
1969 510 4 door in progress


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