1974 Datsun 610 Hardtop

There is not much on the internet for Datsun's forgotten classic, the 610 (also known as the 180b). Datsun sold this car from 1973-76 as a successor to the hugely popular 510. The 610 had a difficult act to follow, as the 510 was the darling of the Japanese imports at the time (and still is!). Datsun sold the cars in three body styles: 2-dr, 4-dr, and wagon.

The 610 series can be divided into two parts; the early PL610 (below left) and the late HL610 (below right) models. The early models were pre-1974 and had a slightly different front grille and bumpers. Then in 1974, due to new government safety regulations, Datsun had to make bumpers that actually provided some crash protection. This meant increasing the size of the bumpers and adding shock absorbing bumper mounts. Most 610 enthusiasts are not fans of the large HL610 bumpers, and agree that the PL610 is the better looking model.

I have owned several 510's over the years, doing engine swaps and modifying anything and everything there is to modify on them. For a long time, I had no idea what a 610 was. The first time I saw a 610 was in L.A. and I was driving to lunch with some co-workers. In the lane next to us, I spotted a cool looking retro Datsun of some sort. I did not know what it was, but it left an impression on me and years later, I began searching for my own.

Datsun 610's are not easy to find, Datsun did not sell many of them in the US, and today most of them have been scrapped or are too rusty or damaged to save. Parts for the 610 are exceptionally rare. The 610 received Datsun's bread and butter L-series engine, in the 1.8 and 2.0L form, so stock engine parts are not hard to find. The 610 also had nearly identical suspension as the 510, which is handy when it comes time to upgrade the suspension. On the other hand, Interior, body, lights, and other 610 specific parts are very hard to come by.

Here is the story of my 610:

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The work begins Assembly Sacrificial Parts Car Roadworthy I Need a New Engine! Assembly New Engine Install Driving Again

In january of 2006 I stumbled on a 1974 HL610 2-door on Craigslist. It has been sitting for about 12 years and did not run, they were asking $400.

Here are some pictures of when I first set eyes on the fugly thing:

This is the car as advertised on Craigslist. Not pretty at all, but I saw potential. It was definitely an HL610, but it had "hybrid" bumpers. These bumpers were the earlier style (PL610) , but mounted on shock absorbers and with larger rubber bumper guards. The grille had mysteriously been cut in half in exactly the middle for some reason.

I showed up one evening to take a look and snapped a few pictures. I had no idea what I was getting into.

The 70's white interior was full of water and smelled of mildew. Dash pad was cracked like the a spider web, and the seats were garbage.

It had an L20b with a 4-speed manual. The owner said it needed a new headgasket and carburetor.

We settled on a price of $300 and I towed it home. My friends did not see the potential that I did in it. They all thought it was the ugliest Datsun ever....I'll show them!

After I got it home, I took a few more pictures:

PAGE 2 - The work Begins!