Take a rare car in Australia. A 72 Datsun 510 Bluebird that was never sold locally, in fact the few in the country are personal imports generally from Japan. A Datsun enthusiast dreams to own one right? Probably a good idea to stay with the L16 and don’t mess with things too much due to the value of these things. Owner Shaun White did not have this responsible vision in his mind when he purchased this 510. He is a Datsun fan and a rotary fan and thought ‘thought why not stick a bloody rotary in it?’ Sure it’s not going to make everyone happy but if you don’t like it then you can eat a male genital (maybe this wasn’t the word Shaun used here).

The Datsun 1600 is a truly legendary car in Australia. It was one of the first classic jap tin machines to gain popularity and value. They were well proportioned, light, damn near indestructible and happen to have a pretty advanced (for back in the day) semi-trailing independent rear suspension setup, not to mention the L16 was easy to work on and was happy to take a beating. Not only was it a great road car but it also made a very capable rally car, I think most rally drivers can say at some stage they have fanged a 1600 between the trees on a special stage. So it’s only natural for the coupe variant (not to be confused with the 2 door sedan), enjoy the same popularity and neck snapping ability wherever they drive in the country.

At 12 years old Shaun knew he had to own one of these cars, at the time his eBay account (he may have told a fib about his age) was SSS_510. He was drawn to Datsuns by his brother who owned a black Stanza rocking some twin webbers. Shaun remembers being 8 years old and thinking it was the coolest thing getting around. Move forward 18 years and Shaun started the search for his own 510 SSS.

Shaun purchased this 510 in reasonable condition from an Importer based in NSW. He flew over, fell in love and drive it straight back to Adelaide, didn’t miss a beat! First thing for Shaun was to do something about the original faded paint, so it was stripped back and had some fresh big bird yellow paint applied and has a very JDM style front chin spoiler installed.

Next step was an altitude adjustment, front end runs full Datsport Coilovers and camber tops and the rear sit on super low king springs to get it sitting much lower to the ground. At the same time brakes were also upgraded front and rear with all Datsport components. To complete the stance the standard wheels were replaced with period correct SSR MKIII. 15×8 in the front and 15×8.5 in the rear with some stretched tyres to keep them within the guards.

Then came the somewhat controversial part of this build, to swap the L16 out with something not Datsun based, not Nissan based, hell not even a piston motor, a Mazda 13B Jport. As quoted by Shaun, “I love Datsun’s, I love rotaries so why not both?” (insert brand name taco meme here).

Solid engineering in Adelaide did all work and it looks like it’s right at home in the engine bay. Excess wiring was hidden and attention to detail was important when putting the engine bay together, a big alloy radiator and a bright yellow battery completes the clean look. The engine was ported curtsey of Whippet rotaries and a webber was fitted to put a little extra power down.

A custom exhaust was then knocked up to give the distinctive 13B its unique note. It’s not subtle at all, it can be heard from what seems like half a km away but the sound was one of the biggest attractions for Shaun to fit the 13B in the first place.

Like any project car it’s never really finished. Shaun plans to have the car fully engineered and has some interior touches to cap off this amazing car.

This car is a great example of an owner building something exactly what they wanted, not listening to the crowd telling him what he should and shouldn’t do. There should be more enthusiasts like that these days, too many cars that are looking exactly the same and running the same driveline that it’s a breath of fresh air someone taking a rare car and just doing exactly what he wanted with it.