Thirty-two years ago, the first Five and Dime rolled off the production line, and since then the Datsun 510 has been a popular platform among old-school and new-school tuners. With limitless suspension and engine transplants ranging from the popular L20B (Datsun 240SX), FJ20 (Nissan Skyline), 13B Mazda rotary to the SR20DET found in the Japan-only Silvia, the only limits are the ones in each 510 enthusiast's imagination.
Craig Shiraiwa of Gardena, Calif., took his Datsun 510 (orange) to a new level of modification. The 1972 two-door coupe received extensive restoration to the body and numerous engine upgrades in the last decade. Constant wear and tear put on the 32-year-old factory L16 engine took its toll, so Shiraiwa opted to transplant the highly popular SR20DET.
At the time, only a handful of Datsun 510s had the same type of SR engine swap, so it was a unique and challenging exercise for Shiraiwa. Using an SR20DET S13 front-end clip from Japan, the 205-hp turbocharged inline four was removed from its original home and fully disassembled for a complete overhaul. The used engine was in excellent condition on arrival from Japan, but Shiraiwa questioned the overall condition of the stock turbo, so it was discarded in favor of a newer T28 ball-bearing turbo, which is available on the Silvia S15.
On the compressor side of the inlet housing, a custom fabricated TSR intercooler routes the compressed air through a pair of TSR aluminum intake pipes, then home to a GReddy intake manifold. On the hot side of the exhaust housing, the S15 turbo is mated to a custom TSR stainless-steel manifold in combination with a 3-inch stainless downpipe. Spent gases are expelled through a custom 3-inch stainless exhaust pipe, finally terminating through an HKS Hyper exhaust.
Using a highly restrictive airflow meter on the SR20DET can minimize horsepower potential on any high-performance vehicle. Shiraiwa swapped the factory unit with a Cobra airflow meter, calibrated through a Jim Wolf-programmed ECU. Besides obtaining the proper voltage and functionality of the larger airflow meter, the Jim Wolf ECU controls all aspects of fuel and ignition timing to the new powerplant. Upgraded 555cc Tomei side feed injectors, a SARD fuel pressure regulator and a Z32 fuel pump drawing fuel out of a custom fuel tank enable the 510 to boost safely beyond 1 bar (14.7 psi).
The added horsepower necessitated an upgrade from the factory suspension and underachieving brakes. Tokico Illumina five-way adjustable shocks, in conjunction with TSR custom coil-overs and Cusco camber plates, replace the factory 510 suspension. Suspension Techniques front and rear anti-roll bars, alongside a full Energy Suspension polyurethane bushing kit, minimize body roll while dramatically improving the 510's responsive handling.
The factory brakes were excellent for a 96-hp vehicle, but with power upgraded to 300-plus hp, the 510's factory drums and rotors were nearly ineffective. Shiraiwa chose a set of Nissan 280ZX front calipers and rotors and a complete Nissan 200SX rear package.
To compensate for horsepower, the factory rear end was replaced with a Subaru R-160 pumpkin. Drivetrain loss is kept to a minimum as the tires are spun through an HKS single-plate clutch. A rare rim selection of 17x7 and 17x8 Volk GTPs wrapped in Toyo Proxes FZ4 205/40-17 and 215/40-17 add an aggressive demeanor to the 510. Finishing off the suspension is a set of TSR front and rear cross members and a four-point roll cage.
Making the orange 510 unique is a passion for Shiraiwa. Using a complete setup of Bluebird (Japans name for the 510) components ranging from the SSS grille, SSS taillights, emblems and a Silvia trunk lock (all supplied from Superior Nissan), the 510's exterior is truly J-spec.