Exhaust and Down-Pipe Fab

One of the many items that need to made to fit is the exhaust. Since much like the driveshaft, every swap fits a bit differently in the 510 there isn’t really an decent off the shelf solution for either the down-pipe or the exhaust. In order to get the job done I contacted Kelly who owns Kelly Built fabrications in San Jose. A good friend to a lot of the folks I know in the Bay Area car scene,  Kelly is known all around the Bay for his insane fab skills.

Request to him was a complete 3″ stainless steel exhaust and down-pipe with v-band connections and the HKS Carbon-Ti muffler I had previously purchased.

Kelly also added the v-band flange for my blow off valve, bung of the IAT sensor, and nipple for the IACV feed line to my cold-side intercooler pipe.

Amazing can’t even describe the quality of Kelly’s work on all of the components. Everything turned out amazingly well and fit the exact request I had made to him.

Assembly Part 3!

Welcome back! Lots of posts in one day but I need to catch up. Next up I’ll walk through some of the interior work and final steps up to where the car is now, done and running!

One of my goals with the car was to keep everything simple. I wanted a clean simple interior without having to track down 46 year old parts and components that may or may not be in decent shape. In order to do this I opted to go far a full aluminum dash, aluminum interior panels, and new carpet. I matched this to my set of Bride seats that I had in my STI and a Personal leather wrapped 300mm steering wheel. I also added a trick set of stainless steel door sills from Skillard.

For all the gauges and necessary information inside the car I turned to Speedhut gauges for a pair of custom made multi-gauges to match my existing Defis that I kept from the STI. The first Speedhut gauge features a 4 function display with Volts, Fuel Level, Oil Pressure, and Water Temp. The second features the tachometer and speedometer, along with odometer and other functions. The Speedo and Odometer are fed from GPS for a super reliable and accurate reading that involved minimal wiring and no speed sensors.

Along with adding in all of the interior panels and components for the main cabin, I also finished up the trunk area. In order to modernize the fuel delivery to meet the needs of the SR20det I opted for a custom made aluminum fuel cell that mounts in the original location between the rear strut towers. I also added the Techno Toy Tuning side panels and wheel well cover.

Next up down-pipe and exhaust fabrication!

Assembly Part 2!

So as I mentioned in the previous post, this time around we’ll cover the drive train and braking components on the car. With the motor in it was time to start working on getting the components ready for actually moving the car. Since every swapped 510 SR20det project is different no one makes an off the shelf driveshaft. I needed to have something custom made in order to fit. I started off by getting the rear end sorted out so I could take measurements from the transmission to the rear differential.

For the rear I choose to go with the tried and true Subaru R180 out of the WRX STI. I added to it the Cusco 1.5 way limited slip differential, billet stub ends, and the Ermish Racing CV Axle kit.

With the rear end pretty much buttoned up I could finally take the necessary measurements so I could have the driveshaft made. Once I had everything I headed over to Driveline Service in San Leandro. After a bit of planning I left everything in their capable hands and returned a mere 3 days later to pick up the completed driveshaft.

With the drive line all setup and installed it was time to get the brakes on. As mentioned previously on the blog I am using 4 piston Brembos off of the Ferrari 360 Modena for the fronts and 2 piston Brembos off of my old 07 WRX STI for the rear. Mounting was accomplished with a set of custom made billet aluminum brackets and center hats. Along with the calipers I also made all new stainless steel hard lines for the brakes and clutch and added a set of Techno Toy Tuning negative camber roll center adjusters to the coilovers.

Next up I’ll cover more of the assembly with the interior and finishing steps!

Assembly Part 1!

So it’s been quite some time since I last updated this. Having a new baby and general life stuff got in the way of updating the blog. However I had been cataloging everything and making sure I had progress photos of all the steps.

For now, let’s start with the general assembly after I got the shell back from the body shop. After towing the shell back to RBMS Auto Care in Hayward, where my buddy Mert kindly let me assemble the car, I began slowly piecing everything together.

I began with tackling some of the exterior items first. Tail lights, fender flares, turn signals, front lip, etc.

After I had those items finished up, it was time to drop the motor in. We finished up the motor what felt like eons ago and now was the time to finally get it in the car! I was so excited to see how everything was going to fit together.

After a bit of wiggling and adjusting the motor dropped in surprisingly easily. Since assembly of the intake and turbo components was much easier with the motor out I was really hoping that we would be able to drop the motor in from above. Typically, most people bring the motor up from the bottom with the subframe already attached and then add all of the other items on once it’s in the car.

With the motor now in it was time to start getting all of the accessories and other components on. Headlights, radiator, intercooler, etc. where all on the list.

Now with the motor in and most of the larger ticket items installed I took a bit of a break and knocked out some of the smaller exterior items. Since I wanted to prevent access to the engine bay I opted to remove the hood latch and cable and run a set of Aerocatch hood pins with keyed locks instead. I also wanted to add a bit more security so I add a set of Solex deadbolt style door locks.

We’ll continue the assembly in the next section! Interior, drivetrain, and more!

Project Update! Body work complete

So it’s been quite a while since the last update. Since I last posted, all of the body work has been finished, and assembly has started. For this post I am going to focus on updating the status of the body work itself and everything we did to get it as close to perfect as possible.

Last post Image Auto Body had finished up welding all of the assorted holes shut (side markers, old mirror mounting holes, various holes in the engine bay), started pulling dents out, and fit the new fiberglass trunk.

After that was the continued work on refining the body and fixing all of the visible defects and issues. The side of the 510 features 3 prominent body lines, 2 very visible. The 3rd called a “ghost line” is about 2 inches below the main body line and is very easy to remove when prepping the body. I wanted to make this line was preserved since the removal of it really makes the sides look off. So I made sure to stress to the team at Image that they keep that line intact. You can see in the progress photos below the two distinct body lines and the prep work to keep the body as smooth as possible.

Along with preserving the original lines, removing 45 years of dents, dings, and general abuse was key. If the car was to match all of the modern updates, the body needed to look as new as possible. This means replacing panels, cutting out rust, and making sure everything lined up properly. Eventually all of the work was finished and we ended up with a fairly yellow patched body (all of the finishing putty/etc. No bondo was used to fill holes made by rust.

After all of the final prep was done, it was time to prime and paint. After bouncing around between about 5 different colors, I settled on Jeep Anvil Grey that first came on the Rubicon and Wrangler. While being a modern color it still fit the old school still being a non-metallic color.

Patches, Welds, and Fixes – Bodywork Update!

As mentioned in my earlier general update post, the 510 is currently sitting snugly at Image Auto Body in South San Francisco. The same team that did the wide body install and full repaint on my STI, Image is hard at work bringing the 44 year old chassis back to life.

My goal with the body is to clean up and remove all of the dents, shave/fill the front and rear side markers, replace/patch the passenger side quarter, weld rear wheel wells shut and smooth out to accomodate much wider wheels/tires, and then shave/smooth the entire engine bay of all un-necessary holes.

Along with all of the above, the team at Image will also be fitting my new fiberglass trunk, rear bumper, and fender mirrors.

Stopping into the shop last week, I was pleasantly surprised with the progress they have made in the past 5 weeks. The majority of the holes in the engine bay have all be welded closed and ground smooth, the rear quarters were welded closed where we had cut for the fender flares, and the trunk was fit. Along with those some of the other exterior areas had been filled and smoothed such as the side markers and lower trim holes.

Next up will be fitting the tail lights to make sure all of the rear body lines are proper, pulling some of the larger dents out, smoothing the engine bay further, and prepping for paint.

Check back soon for more updates! I’ll be writing about my interior plans and the brake setup next entry.

Modernizing the Suspension

Continuing through the car, one of the major areas for updating and modernization is the suspension. The goal was to completely replace and update everything I possibly could to handle not only the new power levels, but also the loads that autocross and track duty will bring to the car. The updates also allow for a wide array of adjustment both front and rear. Originally from 1972 the car featured little to no adjustment that would really allow for any type of major performance driving. The new setup adds camber, caster, toe, height, rebound, and dampening adjustment to all 4 corners. (No caster in the rear, obviously)

In order to achieve all of this a fair amount of work was needed. It started with a set of brand new Ermish Racing Type 2 coilovers with Swift springs. The units are extremely well assembled and feature top quality parts and attention to detail.

dsc_0498 The front coilovers where then mated to a set of new 280z spindles with new ball joints and bump steer spacers. The hubs where also rebuilt with new bearings and ARP extended studs. The coils and spindles were then connected to a set of billet aluminum lower control arms. In order to get everything connected and setup properly a set of Techno Toy Tuning torsion bars and lateral links were added as well.

For the rears, the original crossmember was re-worked to allow for camber and toe adjustment by adding adjustable mounting brackets. The control arm bushings were also replaced with new urethane units from Energy Suspension. 44 years of wonderful age on the car brought with it a set of bushing that would not come out. The odd shape of the control arms also meant that pressing them out was not an option. So an entire Saturday was spent burning out the old rubber bushings then grinding out the metal sleeves. Once that was all done the new bushings were inserted and the control arms mounted to the car.

Along with all of the bushing work the rear hubs were also repacked with new bearings and grease and ARP extended studs were used to replace the old short Datsun units.

Headlight restoration and update

One of the first things I began to tackle this year was updating the headlights for the 510. The old sealed beam units just wouldn’t cut it and I wanted something a bit more modern in both function and look. As I dug around the web looking for ideas I came across a fairly common conversion that utilized BMW E30 projectors.

I ordered a set online and once they arrived began working on getting them to fit. Thankfully they are the same diameter as the stock 510 headlights, so no problems there. What needed a bunch of work is making them fit the 510 buckets.

First task was to take apart the original headlight assemblies. This was a fairly simple task, few screws, some adjustment springs, etc. and everything was apart. The main area that needed work was the outside bucket/light mount for the low beam light. The projector housing from the E30 is substantially different in size and depth and involves cutting of the bucket to get it to fit.


Quick test fit of the parts after trimming. New on the right, old 510 lights on the left.


Once the bucket was cut and everything fit I had the entire assembly powder coated gloss black to finish.



Here you can see the difference in buckets in order to fit the new E30 projectors. The bucket on the bottom right is for the low beam housing and had to be cut quite a bit to fit.


Final completed headlights with E30 projectors:


Updates and progress

So it’s been quite some time since I have updated the blog/status of the project. (Almost 10 months!!) 2016 has been a whirlwind of craziness which left me with little time to update the blog. I have however been documenting and making great progress on the project over the past few months.

While I was away from the blog I was able to finish up all of the prep and fitting before taking the shell to the body shop to begin it’s transformation into a beautiful shiny “new” car.  Over the next few days I will begin posting updates on how I got to the point the car is at and where it’s going.

Final shot before towing the car to the body shop.


Mert and Winston of RBMS Auto Care happy that my car was finally out of the shop and not squatting on the lift in the back corner!


Drop off at Image Auto Body!