Tuesday, December 6, 2011

40 years and lots of dirt

The Datsun 510 is probably best known in the U.S. for its victories in the Trans Am series racing of the early 70s, however it was also quite the rally car too.  The 510 participated in many rally races around the world and won a few events too.  You can read about some of the history of the 510's successes here:  510 Safari rally

Fast forward over 40 years since the original Datsun 510 rolled onto the streets, and it is rare to see these cars in action on the dirt.  There are some people who still race their beloved Datsun on unpaved roads, and I wholeheartedly salute them for their efforts.

Some of you may remember the magazine Sport Compact Car, which during the late 90s and early 2000s was one of the most prominent monthly publications dedicated to the auto enthusiast.  The magazine featured a great variety of technical articles focused more on performance than the aesthetics of a vehicle.  During what I called their "golden age" of writing, their staff featured well written and at times humorous articles by Josh Jaquot, Shiv Pathak, Mike Kojima, and Dave Coleman.  One of my favorite articles was the project car rallycross beatdown where the writers participated in a lighthearted event of talking trash to each other while attempting to be victorious in a local rallycross race. 

Speaking of Dave Coleman, he had an ongoing project car which was a Datsun 510 he ended up rallying with great success (sometimes with spectacular failure too) and won several times in a car much older than his competition's.  After Dave left the magazine to pursue a different career, I wondered what became of his Datsun. 

Which brings me to my point after this long winded tangent.  MotoIQ is a website with contributing writers from not only Sport Compact Car, but also from the old Turbo magazine too.  They recently staged an event with the help of Inside Line to compare the progress of modern vehicles versus their classic counterparts.  Lo and behold, there was Dave's 510 (albeit with more "character dents" than before) being set up to race Nissan's compact crossover frog looking thing called the Juke.  The article is by Jacquot (who works for Inside Line, not MotoIQ), but it was great to see the Datsun take on the Juke even if the whole article was just for laughs. 

You can see the article here which contains the link to the video:  510 vs Juke

What are your thoughts?  Is the Juke in any way related to the 510, or is it just an obscure vehicle?  Do you think Nissan is missing something in its current lineup?  Should some cars be changed or axed? 

I think Nissan would do well if it were to bring back a driver's car with RWD and a proper manual with more than 2 seats.  Yes, it would only appeal to a niche, but hooking people with a sporty car can sometimes pay dividends when those individuals have to buy a sedate car for practicality's sake. 

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