The Most Famous Datsun Of All Time?

Today, Datsuns from the early 1970s are some of the most popular cars out there for restoration and modification. And despite the fact that the Datsun name hasn’t been used in the United States since the 1980s, it’s a nameplate that’s revered by many gearheads.

But it wasn’t always this way.


Like the other Japanese automakers that entered the US market, Datsun had an uphill battle to win over the hearts and minds of the American motoring public. For the budget-minded buyer, big selling points for early Datsuns were their compact size and fuel economy, but winning over driving enthusiasts and race fans would be a more difficult task.


The vehicle you see here is not only of one the machines that helped Datsun do exactly that, but it’s also one of the most recognizable Datsun-badged cars of all time.

You’re looking at the 1971 and 1972 SCCA Trans Am 2.5 championship-winning BRE 510 built by Peter Brock and driven by John Morton.


This is the real deal, the actual #46 car originally built by Brock Racing Enterprises, and it’s currently part of Nissan USA’s corporate collection.

As part of its display at JCCS this year, Nissan brought the BRE 510 all the way from its headquarters in Tennessee to display in Long Beach.

The 510 is presented exactly how it was raced back in 1971; the original livery, 13-inch Libre wheels and everything else all remain true to the period. Seeing the actual car at JCCS this year was a real treat.


With a hopped-up 2.0-liter under the hood, Morton’s 510 made about 190 horsepower, and it diced it up with the Alfa Romeos and BMWs all season.


After a drama-filled battle against the Alfa Romeos across the US, it all came down to the season finale at Laguna Seca where the little 510 put itself in the record books of American motorsport and helped establish Datsun as a brand not just for commuters, but for driving enthusiasts as well.

Let’s finish this off with Against All Odds, the period film that documents Morton and this very car during the triumphant 1971 Trans Am season. Apologies in advance for the 26 minutes of work that you won’t get done while watching this video.

Mike Garrett
Instagram: japanifornia



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Dat sun on the flag.. JDM


respect! Thanks for featuring this Mike. 
The engine is not a 2L it is a 1.8L


My Uncle Parker just got a stunning blue Mercedes GLK-Class Diesel by work parttime using a laptop.


So sick this car is still kickin and was never just let to rot..and if it was, it sure made a comeback. All those little Alfa's and 2002's competing with the Datsuns were so neck n neck with performance. Right now I have a later model 2002 which has it all, lsd..5speed..mechanical fuel injection.. a tii engine in a non tii 2002 lol but nothing is funner than these lightweight machines.


Roadkillguy Datpun


This is the car and video that made me fall in love with the 510. I was checking it out at jccs this year and one thing I couldn't believe was the brake and clutch pedals were over a foot of the floor pan. Peter Brock and John Morton had to drive it with their legs and feet damn near straight out


@datsundan The brake and clutch pedal appear to be in the stock locations. I've been daily driving my 510 since I was 16 and never had a problem with the height of the pedals. That floor hinging top mounted gas pedal, though, is an awful pain in the ass to heel-toe.


BlackMesa533i I am quite jealous of BMW's stock LSD in those 2002s.


Awesome to see the 46 getting some well deserved attention! It's amazing to me that it holds so much popularity among generations which never actually saw it race competitively (I myself am in my early 20s, about as far removed as you can get from the age demographic that 'should' be interested in this car). 

Did you get to see it run back in 2013 (maybe 2012, can't remember) at the Rolex Historics? John Morton was driving it and the Rolex crew lumped the big bore and small bore Trans-Am groups together, so the little 510s, GTAs, and 2002s were mixing it up with the "big boys". 
Needless to say, the small bore cars made the big bore stuff look slow.... and Morton got black flagged for punting a Boss 302 (multi-million dollar car) off the track. 


Body contact. It was very exciting. 

Keep your eyes peeled for the 46 car to join the 85 car (which Adam Carolla owns) on the Historic racing scene...


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One correction, if you don't mind. The race car had an L16 (1600 cc) engine, not a 2-liter. It still made nearly 200 HP!


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