It rarely rains during the summer months in Southern California. That is, unless there’s a meet planned, like the Kaido House x MINI GT Datsun 510 car meet that took place on August 21. The brainchild of Kaido House boss man Jun Imai, who recently partnered with die-cast specialist MINI GT to produce and distribute his unique, custom 1:64 scale creations, the gathering was organized to celebrate the collaboration’s early success and upcoming product but also used as an excuse to gather some fellow 510 owners together for a meet and greet.
Host With the Most
GReddy Performance Products’ Irivine, California headquarters has played host to several events in recent years and has become somewhat of a destination for small meets. Much of that is due to the brand’s president, Kenji Sumino (shown above), being an avid enthusiast, car builder, and someone that’s never shied away from mixing it up with all automotive walks of life. His relationship with Jun Imai goes back quite a way, and when the notion of a throwing a small gathering came about there was no hesitation.
The GReddy parking lot accommodates a few dozen cars (spaced appropriately) and was quickly filled with cars that filed in well before the 8am kick-off. More Datsuns were expected to arrive but never showed up, most likely a result of not wanting to deal with the rain. Of the cars on hand, some took on complete makeovers with expert level restoration and extensive modification throughout, while others carried much of their original form, with owners choosing to maintain much of the 510’s late ’60s/early ’70s charm.
A few non-510s were also on display, including a pair of Skylines, one of which is Imai’s personal GT-X, and a few ’80s-era Corolla as well.
Pay to Play
Mix in with the crowd and listen to stories about buying or selling one of these iconic front-engine, rear-wheel-drive people-movers and you realize pricing is getting out of hand. If you don’t have an “in” or simply get lucky with someone realizing they’ve had an old Datsun covered in dust and storage boxes in the corner of the garage that they can’t wait to get rid of, expect a hard hit to your bank account.
A classic look for a modified 510, this version sporting deep-lipped wheels, fender-mounted mirrors, and “netted” head rests. Closer inspection reveals a very straight body, nicely applied paintwork, and modern LED headlights.
The 510 is no stranger to competitive racing, having found success in numerous series, most notably the Trans Am Series in 1971-1972. This example has been extensively modified for track use with custom aero pieces front and rear, cut and channeled fenders, and much more.
Yes, there’s an engine swap and turbo under-hood, but it’s not what you might expect. A General Motors Ecotec engine is on duty and this car has seen considerable track time over the years and was even featured in Super Street in 2016. Once located in Wisconsin, it can now be found in the West.
The 510’s engine bay offers ample space for a number of different engines, leaving your goals and budget as the determining factors on which works best. Cross-platform swaps are nothing new, but in recent years we’ve seen an influx of Honda-powered builds, like this F-series mill plucked from an S2000. Just behind it, a Mazda rotary engine powers another 510.
Keeping things within the Nissan family is still a popular option no doubt – the venerable SR20 and its “DET” turbo derivative have long been found under the hoods of street, show, and track builds.
This example featured a rising sun graphic atop its roof with patina along the front and onto the hood. Its fenders, doors and rear quarters, however, have been taken down to bare metal before being clear coated for protection.
It’s tough to pick favorites with so many unique examples, but this light blue version stood right up at the top in my eyes. No signs of rust or body damage of any kind, much of the factory body gaps appropriately lined up and original factory pieces polished to “like new” condition. Peeking through the grill is a front-mount intercooler.
Sitting at a tasteful ride height on black and polished mesh wheels that do their best to hide a Wilwood brake package, I was at a loss to come up with something I would change.
While not as common as the coupe and sedan, the 510 wagon has always been a fan favorite. Aggressively sized Watanabe wheels and stiff sidewalls give this wagon a whole new attitude.
Just to add a little spice to the get together, Imai brought out one of the many old school icons from his personal stable: this Skyline GT-X.
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