1978 Datsun 510 Station Wagon (Ms. Helen)
Last updated Mar 31, 2012
It was August of 2010 and I was doing what I love to do, cruising the modern day used car lot.....called Ebay.
Now I will be the first to tell you that I was not shopping for a Datsun station wagon but that is exactly what I came across.
What struck me most was the extremely low mileage 18K and the extraordinary condition of the car. Was this car what it claimed to be? My skepticism was at the very highest of heights. After many, many emails and a few phone calls to the owner, I was satisified. I had found an absolute gem! I knew not to let this one go to auction end and take the chance of losing it by a fraction of a cent. The deal was done. She was mine. She had up to that point spent her whole life of 32 years in California. New horizons were in front of her although she could not see them in the covered semi that she rode in. As she rolled off the truck on that hot summer day, it became apparent that she was all that she was cracked up to be. The long wait was over and before me she set. I looked her over from end to end and I was and still am just blown completely away. This little Datsun was and is like brand new. The ebay listing said she could and should be in a museum and that is not a stretch to say. Now I had a mystery on my hands! How did this model of car that was usually drove into the ground and then turned into a soda can survive since 1978 and stay in this kind of condition??? I don't have to tell you this but for the most part these little Japanese cars were not a car that people done a frame off restoration to. Or restored at all for that matter. This is where the long story has to be cut short. Included with the car was the new vehicle temporary identification slip. The original owners name and address were on the slip. I found out that she "Ms.Helen" the origional owner, was deceased. "RIP". I was then able to locate the person who had purchased "Ms. Helens home". This person told me of a lady who was Ms.Helen's next door neighbor for 30 plus years. Problem is he only remembered the lady's first name. Believe it or not I was able to track this lady down. She still lived in the same house. I called information and dialed the number and wouldn't you know it she answered the phone. After explaining the nature of the call she told me that she was Ms.Helens next door neighbor since 1966 and in the middle seventies her and Ms.Helen both worked in San Francisco and they would take the bus together to work. She said that she decided to buy a car "her first" and so she bought a green Datsun station wagon and she said that Ms.Helen liked the car so much that she went and bought her one just like it only Ms.Helens was brown. She said it was Ms.Helens only car and after retirement the only place Ms.Helen drove the car was to the store, bank and here and there. She said that she would kid with Ms.Helen and call Ms.Helens Datsun "Garage Art" . She gave me the phone number of Ms.Helens son. I called him and he was thrilled to hear from me. He told me that his mother "Ms.Helen" was a very particular person "as I" and she kept her house and car and everything else she owned in tip top immaculate condition.Mystery solved. He even sent me pictures of the car that Ms.Helen had taken in October of 1978. In one of those pictures the license plate was visible and you guessed it, the car had the same plates on it then as it did when I took delivery. Well That's it folks. Now you know the whole story of the two Ms. Helens.
Engine capacity...1952 cc
Max HP 107 Max rpm 5600 (sae)
Wheel base 2400mm
Made in Yokohama, Japan.
Datsun was one of the top two selling Japanese brands in the nation, Toyota was the other. The 510 is the car that put Datsun on the map. What happened to the Datsun Brand? For decades, Nissan which was established in 1933 used the Datsun brand everywhere except Japan. In 1981 , the company
decided to rebrand all Datsuns as Nissans. They were trying to strengthen the company name. It was an absolute disaster and cost the company hundreds of millions of dollars. And the stupidest thing about it was that Datsun already had great name recognition in the U.S. Today Nissan has slipped to the number 3 Japanese brand in the U.S., behind Honda.
The latest news is that Nissan is reviving the Datsun brand. But only in Russia,India, and Indonesia.
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