Having been through the motor building game with the STI 3 times, I knew I didn’t want to cut any corners when building the SR20det for the 510. I wanted to build the motor once and be done with it regardless of power plans in the future. First up were the internals. Since the OEM crank for the SR20det is a really solid piece it was the one part I left alone. After great experience with them in the STI I opted for CP 87mm oversized pistons connected to a set of Manley I-Beam Turbo Tuff rods. To keep things spinning I went with a full set of ACL race bearings. To hold everything together I went with ARP fasteners for everything including head studs, main bolt, flywheel bolts, etc. All gaskets, seals, etc. were refreshed with a brand new master gasket kit from Nissan. Along with all of the seals I replaced the water pump, thermostat, and alternator with new units. The alternator is special order “black series” 135amp unit from Japan.
After getting the block back from the machine shop, it was cleaned a second time (Machine Shop steam cleaned the outside) to remove any remaining oils and then painted a battle ship grey to give a nice finished look.
Along with the short block, the head was also completely reworked inside and out. The intake and exhaust ports received a mild polish and blend, opening up the inlets and outlets to match the much larger manifolds. To help move all the incoming air from the turbo a set of 270 Tomei Pro-Cams was selected with all of the supporting goods. Manley titanium retainers and valve springs, Tomei valve guides, Tomei rocker stopppers, Tomei adjustable cam gears, Nissan OEM valve seals, and more.
A refresh of the valve cover with some new paint, updated assembly hardware, -10 an fitting for the breather port, and a brushed aluminum Tomei coil pack cover and everything was almost ready for assembly.
One of the first things I had already decided on for the car was the motor. A fairly popular option for the 510, the JDM only SR20DET was the easiest choice for me. With easy to acquire parts readily available in the states, the SR20DET is one of the most iconic motors to come out of Nissan. A turbo 2.0 liter in-line 4 cylinder with accompanying 5 speed transmission it has graced several various cars over its notable history. Of these are the famous and highly sought after Silvias. Starting with the S13 and moving through various iterations the SR20DET provides realiable power in a compact enough package to fit in the 510.
I specifically choose a S13 Blacktop SR20DET out of the 180sx/Silvia. Lots of available parts from both Nissan and aftermarket makes it easy to maintain and build upon. Mine came from Japan through Canada and included everything I needed for around $2600 shipped. After only 4 days in transit the motor arrived at RBMS in Hayward. I headed over there after work to inspect the shipment and begin tearing it down for removal from the pallet.
The motor was in such great shape, with the exception of two valves that needed to be replaced, that the motor could have been run as is without any updating. After going through everything I was very pleased with the purchase and relieved that I had received such a clean motor. Once everything was taken apart, the block and head were dropped off at Rob’s Auto Machine in Hayward for the machining and new parts.
Growing up as a member of the “Gran Turismo Generation” we learned of amazing cars from all over the world that no one here had really ever heard of. As my fascination with all of the amazing Japanese machines of the 90s grew I began to take notice of the older JDM classics. The amazing highway battle cars of the 70s were unlike anything I had seen.
As time went on the love and respect for the old JDM classics grew. My personal favorites being those from coming from Datsun. The 240z, Bluebird/510, and Hakosuka were timeless designs that feel like they never age.
As my bored with the STI grew, my desire to rebuild an old JDM classic grew alongside it. I began researching the cars, looking for inspiration. Low, wide, and chunky immediately drew my attention. Fender Flares and meaty 15″ wheels spoke to me like not many other cars have. I began to formulate my plan and what I wanted to achieve. New-Classic was my theme with the plan being to do a full top to bottom replacement of every component on the car.
Fuel Injected modern turbo motor, modern style suspension, modern brakes, all new wiring, hard lines, etc. were all chosen to bring the 510 into the modern era.
Below are a few samples of what helped drive me towards my ultimate plan for the 510.
A few weeks before parting out my STI and prepping to sell off all of the parts and shell I picked up my next project. An almost completely rust free (we’ll get to that later), mostly straight, 1972 Datsun 510 2 door. Previously owned by a good friend of mine, the car had been sitting for almost a year or so before it came home with me.
This blog will catalog my process in working on the 510 and doing a full restore/restomod build.