VTEC Just Kicked Datsun. Yo!
To fettle or not to fettle

Restomodding is a touchy subject. I get it: there’s a fine line that sort of separates what is acceptable and what just takes the base car and tarnishes its original lure or persona, if you will. That fine line is what separates a well-executed car from something that has been overdone. Like most things, personal taste has a lot to do with it; some like it more authentic, others don’t really care but there’s definitely somewhere in between – a sweet spot where the best of these sort of cars lie. Sugimoto, the owner of this Datsun 510 Bluebird Coupe, is a designer by trade and being a creative professional sort of dictated the car he was going to drive.


Nothing oozes style like an older car and that’s a good thing because that is precisely what he wanted to base this project on. It just so happened that his studio isn’t too far from the Common Snapper workshop in Aichi-ken, where Nori Miyamoto has for years been building some of the most unique kyusha in Japan. This is a place I’ve been meaning to get to for quite a while because Nori is one of a select bunch of individuals in Japan that has managed to create a very distinct personal style – one that is instantly recognizable.


His cars speak for themselves, which is probably what had Sugimoto-san call on him for his services. There was a rather long list of objectives that had to be met with his little 510, the first one being about style. The car had to appear simple and very stock-looking, yet imply to those in the know that it had been fettled with in all the right places. With such an iconic shape – which even Nissan themselves are thinking of embracing again if the recent IDx concept is anything to go by – it was a question of hitting all of the subtle details in the right way.


Things like the fender mirrors: some people replace them with regular door-mounted items, or aftermarket carbon ones but here the stock ones have been left just where they were from the factory. Maybe a little buff job to polish the tarnished chrome but the idea here was not to mess with simplicity.


Next up is the first restomod touch we come across. The 510 has been lowered on a set of Common Snapper adjustable suspension to get just the right balance between stance and handling.


The wheels too are from Common Snapper, Nori’s very own design from the Barramundi Wheels line-up he has created. His wheels are built by Work and on this particular Eleven model, sport a black anodized lip with a satin black center. They are fitted in 7×16″ up front and seem to barely contain the Wilwood braking upgrade which has been custom ordered in anodized red to stand out behind the black spokes. Sugimoto selected Yokohama Advan Neova AD08 rubber all round as it’s his favourite tyre at the moment.


The Ossan badge is a bit of a joke: styled like the old Nissan emblem, it’s a bit of a derogatory term that translates as old man. When asked why he applied this to his fenders, Sugimoto simply replies he’s an ossan, so that’s why he sports it with pride!


The rear wheels are one inch wider than the fronts and Neova AD08 rubber makes an appearance here too, in the same modest width of 195/45R16. The same red anodized look has been applied to the rear drum brakes to help balance that infusion of color which is pretty much the sole one along the whole white exterior.


To get the rear to sit just right, the fenders were slightly flared, extended and smoothed to fall right over the tyre’s sidewall. It’s a small touch that’s so well-executed, you really have to wonder if it was there from factory or added later on!


Along with the Barramundi logo, Sugimoto-san also proudly displays the name of his design studio on the Bluebird’s windscreen.


The execution truly is commendable, the clean and simple approach making the car stand out more than one that boasts more extreme visual upgrades like say overfenders.


A little tip of the hat to Peter Brock is given up front with the only true exterior addition, the BRE-logoed front bucktooth lip spoiler, helping the car seem a little lower and a little more menacing when viewed head on. The projectors have been equipped with slightly brighter bulbs – always an area where vintage cars fail miserably – which give that curious blue and yellow tint to the lenses. Satisfied with the looks, Sugimoto did make a little special request to Nori and that was about performance. He wanted decent power, but delivered in a fun and modern fashion, and that’s precisely what makes this 510 rather special.

Powered by Honda

Sending drive to the rear wheels is an F20C borrowed from a Honda S2000. The longitudinally-mounted VTEC unit fits like a glove in the Datsun’s compact little engine bay; that unmistakable cam cover making you instantly wonder what 250 high-revving horses will feel like propelling 900kg of Datsun 510.


But it doesn’t end there. We still have to look at the details that complete this most awesome of swaps – things like the cold air intake that is shaped so that the paper cone filter fishes only the coolest of air entering the engine bay. Or the custom headers, hand fabricated out of inconel from a shop in Suzuka that in the past used to make F1 manifolds.


The F20C was swapped over along with the S2000’s six-speed transmission, so it’s just as much as a pleasure to select gears through the tight and precise shifter. A full AP1 harness and ECU were also part of the swap, helping keep things easy. Simple was definitely the operative word in this project, despite the complexity of shoehorning a different motor into the car.


Best thing of all is that of course when you close the hood, you would never know what lies beneath. Sleeper? Yes, for sure!


Call Sugimoto’s car a more modern take on what the 510 used to offer back in the seventies, only one that pushes that performance envelope forward. The kyusha style remains but it is joined by a host of newfound capabilities serving as a perfect example of that restomod approach we were talking about earlier. 

The digital choice

All of this extends into the cabin too, every touch adding to the car’s drivability and comfort rather than taking away from it with unneeded details and alterations. The R33 GT-R seats for example: Nissan items, so a fitting upgrade and one that helps keep Sugimoto and his passenger nicely supported through the corners and at the same time comfortable on those day-to-day drives.


With the newfound handling characteristics, not to mention the performance that makes the car a little wilder to tame, there was a preference to move to a modern Momo steering wheel, its chunky rim custom wrapped in leather and the spokes in carbon vinyl.


Along with the F20C and wiring loom, the S2000’s digital instrumentation was also carried over and it’s by far the detail that not only makes the car’s cabin so special, but adds that touch of completeness to the Honda thing that is going on here. Custom Alpine audio was also added along with a navigation system which up until a few years ago was a real must on any Japanese car; now we have mobile phones for that stuff!


Do those HVAC controls look familiar? That’s because they too are from the S2000 that donated everything else I’ve listed so far.


The 510 probably is one of the most popular platforms for restomod-type builds, and with the kyusha trend gaining more popularity in Japan, it will be cool to see what other interesting takes guys like Nori at Common Snapper will take. We’ve already seen his personal car recently at the Nostalgic 2 Days also running an F20C swap, but something tells me he has something else up his sleeve. ..

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: speedhunters_dino



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What is that piece in the center console?


Not a coupe. It's a 2 door sedan. Yes there's a difference.
Coupe: http://tinyurl.com/kdh3aq3
Compare the C pillar to the one above. Not hating just pointing out.


Absolutely spot on... Daily of my dreams!


Great blend, a Datsun hitting Vtec puts a grin on my face. Great pictures. If I ever own a Nissan I will have to borrow that Ossan sticker LOL.


Hollagraphik  Its part of the sound system. The unit says "Alpine"


Hollagraphik It's a coffee machine   :-)


Hollagraphik  Its the hubble telescope.


Hollagraphik It's a Subwoofer with built in amp


What is going on in the passenger foot well?!


Gorgeous build, but what is a Stiker? ;)


An F20C powered Datsun...with Inconel headers?! This is awesome. Seriously, that's all I have to say.

Though I will admit I'm questioning the rear drum setup.


That engine bay through the hood photo is soooooo lame.


Hollagraphik £6.95 Halfords.


@Dugan  No comment on the car? Now that's lame :)


BareAssGodzilla  Yes, these is a difference, you're quite correct. As you'll see when we bring you some more Common Snapper goodness :)


TGF70L Hollagraphik  It's a the portal to a time space continuum. You can buy them in Autobacs, another great reason to go to Japan.


Cool to see some rolling shots of this car; I remember walking down the aisle at Nos2Days and seeing the S2k instruments before I saw the motor. What a clean build; it's too bad cars can't come from the factory like this.  Although I guess it just gives us more inspiration to have fun in our garages!


Also looks like it has air vents from a s15. Its very nice, but the interior lets it down a little IMO


i noticed that most f20c swaps i see online and in magazines usually come with its instrument panel. i like how he integrated it into his dash. and that center console thingy... very gundam-ish! but what does it do???

turbo BEAMS ae86

very cool !  more like this!


Oh my days Dino. This thing is boss.

Been 'off' the old-timing cars of late. This little Datsun though mate.. wow. Amaze ballz.

I find that of all the barometers I tend to judge cars by, 'fun' is often the most potent. This car looks Fun


Holy cow, this is really close to how I'd like to build my own 510, (ideally on a set of vintage SSR's though). I can only imagine how fun that thing is to drive.



Keep up the good content. This was a great build and good inspiration for my own 510.


roryfjohnston  Speakers :)


Pinky1984  :)


BareAssGodzilla Speedhunters_Bryn  yes indeed there is a difference but to me they are both coupés by the definition of the word :p


Artsee  well spotted, glad at least someone looks at the spec section :p


Speedhunters_Bryn  haha


RBJKT  Fun it definitely is! True screamer :D


wow, just a little boot spoiler, something from the period and it would be perfect to me!


Sooo...what happened to the S2000 they sourced? :(


You've been on a roll with your past couple of posts. Well done!



coupe : a car with a fixed roof and 2 doors

You're right. But according to that so is nearly vehicle. So...
Personally I believe in their being more than a couple body styles. Or that when body styles are different they should have different names so as not to make things confusing. A good example of this is how your articles have different names or the fact this sight and any similar aren't all named Carblog.net If it was I probably wouldn't be here with you arguing the importance of words.


Very nice and clean car, looks like the Honda f20/f22 are becoming more of a common swap into the older Japanese chassis.


Add this to my list of potential swaps for the 620 pickup..


Wow!! That is amazing!


The face on the owner of the S2000 racing this guy would be priceless


speedhunters_dino roryfjohnstonI see one small speaker and a GIANT box taking up all the leg room.


I wonder why they covered the legroom for the passenger side ? :o


BareAssGodzilla speedhunters_dino
It's a coupe.  Just not a "bluebird" coupe.  As op mentioned look at C pillar


I feel like i'v died and gone to heaven, that car is perfect on so many ways. awesome write up and photos.


Speedhunters_Bryn no need to be a bitch, bitch


koko san  They are readily available lol


LewisYerbury  Thank you Sir:)


s2kcelica  Yep they've been popular motors for quite some time, now getting cheaper


jah1mon  Thanks man!


@zz  Crashed


iProGam3r  Ducktail? lol


Yea, I know first hand. Working on mine right now. Maybe a feature down the road on sh? ;)


speedhunters_dino koko sanlol maybe they are quite common :) this one says AYAKA ....?


s2kcelica  dat engine bay.  *drool*


what is the connection with peter brock, i presume your talking about the australian racer


GregFentonHNHS Nope, he was an American that raced 510s back when they were new, BRE was his racing company/team. No relation to the Aussie Peter Brock.
It still confuses me for a few seconds to this day when people mention the US PB, until I see the BRE logo I'm stuffed lol


That header is some crazy sculpted masterpiece. Can't imagine the hours put into this build to come out so clean. Great job!


NathanJohnson GregFentonHNHS  thanks man, i was wondering because what would an aussy v8 racer have in common with an ol datto. never heard of the american one.



From the wheels on up, the best 510 I've laid eyes on. 
That well built F20, is just the icing on the cake!


F*ckin' twat! Nice car but he blew it with that engine...


Very nice!!  I'd like to do the same thing, but keep it all Datsun/Nissan with a built SR-20.  I love the stance, and espically the fact that the fenders are not flared.  Can you give me the receipie for wheel/tire size and offset?  Did you have to roll the inner fenders?  Slotted rear member?


Very nice execution of a 510 classic the looks, engine swaps, custom brakes, wheels...awesome write up.


Looks great.. plz tell me what diff did you use and ratio?


@Monsterdark obviously you know nothing of the engine he used, pure screaming small block bullet proof technology. One of the best swaps for a 510, Take a ride in an S2000 and listen to it wind up to 9000rpm and you will know why this swap is perfect for a 510.


GregFentonHNHS No the BRE Team in the USA, Brock Racing Enterprises, the one that basically put the 510 and Datsun/Nissan on the racing map.


Air con unit! Only spot for it as they never a stock option....


Does anyone know how i can get a hold of the owner/builder? I have some questions on the build.