When the name Datsun 510 is brought up, people generally think of the nimble two-door that tore up race tracks alongside Alfa Romeo GTVs and BMW 2002s in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Many forget that the 510 resurfaced a couple of years later as a two- and four-door sedan, a station wagon, a three-door hatchback and a long, family-focused five-door hatch oddly reminiscent of the Renault 20 / 30 and the five-door Saab 900. The car was called Auster, Violet and Stanza in miscellaneous parts of the world.
Aimed squarely at the Toyota Camry and the Honda Accord, two rising stars in the North American new car market, the 510 borrowed select styling cues from its popular predecessor but its overall design did not stand out much from other cars of the era. Its biggest selling points were a high bang-for-the-buck factor and a relatively low price compared to econoboxes imported from Europe.
The five-door hatchback body style was added almost as an afterthought in 1979 but it was not a huge seller in the United States as buyers have historically harbored a strong preference for traditional four-door sedans. In retrospect, it added much-needed variety to the segment but it targeted a very limited audience.
Like most A10-series 510s, the hatchback is worth little and a few hundred dollars can buy a rough one on Craigslist. Will the A10-series 510 become sought by Japanese car enthusiasts or will values continue to drop as more and more examples disappear?