Datsun Dreamland: Tom Cotter finds a large collection of Z cars | Barn Find Hunter

by Hagerty
7 May 2021

Of all the crazy-valuable and hyper-rare cars Tom Cotter has uncovered in his time rooting around barns and dusty garages, nothing lights him up like a Datsun Bluebird 510. Think of the Datsun’s appeal in the US as we might have seen the Triumph Dolomite or Hillman Avenger.

The Datsun 510 is a car that follows the same formula as the venerable BMW 2002. A simple four-cylinder engine in the front, bolted up to a manual gearbox to power the rear wheels, independent rear suspension, and a couple of different body styles. The trick here is that the 510 was inexpensive in the US, less than $2000, while a BMW would set you back over $5000. Yet there was little to separate the driving experience of both.

In Britain, the 510 – or Bluebird – is vanishingly rare today even in comparison to the BMW, thanks to a combination of the protectionist import quotas of the era and corrosion attacking those that did make it over.

One person who can relate is Peter Brock, the same man who penned the Cobra Daytona Coupe. Brock is such a staple in the 510 community that the paint scheme you recognise is attributed to him. Brock campaigned multiple 510s in Trans Am 2.5-litre class under Brock Racing Enterprises – better known as BRE. The red, white, and blue BRE colour scheme matched with 13-inch American Racing Libra wheels and slightly flared wings muscled up the looks of the humble saloon.

Looks are one thing, but the 510 backed it up on the track. The Alfa Romeos and BMWs were no match for the humble little Datsun. Unfortunately, the 510 only lived six years before production ended in 1973. The fans have never forgotten about the little car though, and Tom Cotter counts himself as one of the faithful.

There are other old car discoveries in and around the vicinity of this North Carolina hoard. As Tom points out, the cars are still out there and hiding just about everywhere – you just have to look. Whether you want a classic Buick Riviera or a race-storied Japanese economy car, it’s up to you to go out and start searching. Or as Tom calls it: hunting.

Via Hagerty US

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