Nissan Bluebird U HT 1600 SSS-E

The Bluebird, a prototypical Japanese family car, was in production for 53 years starting in 1959. The last Bluebirds came off the assembly line in 2001. One model that stands out is the third-generation 510, released in 1967. The new engine was a water-cooled 4-cylinder with a single overhead camshaft. There were 1.3-liter and 1.6-liter versions of this engine. The 1.6-liter version, the L16 engine, was known as the SSS. This high-efficiency, easy-to-repair engine was also loaded into the Skyline and Fairlady Z models.

The 510 famously won the 18th annual East Africa Safari rally in 1970, adding to its allure.

In North America, the 510 was sold under the Datsun name. It was popular with high school students just getting their first car and still brings up memories for that generation.

The car in the photos is the 510’s successor, the 610 from 1971. The body is bigger and the engine was either a 1.8-liter or 2.0-liter model, a bit larger than the L16. More powerful and efficient than the 510, this model won the 1973 Safari Rally.

But sales of this model weren’t good, and it has achieved only minor status in the Bluebird family history. One of the reasons stated for its lack of popularity was that it didn’t look enough like a family car and seemed more like a bad boy’s race car. Back then, Japan was a lot more conservative, and most people didn’t want anything to do with an edgy bad boy’s car.

It’s been 50 years since then. That 1970s car with the bad-boy design has become the choice of the old-car market. Buyers will even customize the car to enhance those bad-boy features. The car in the photos has only about 50,000 kilometers, or just over 30,000 miles on it. The engine and body are in good condition. It’s been customized just a little. The price: 3.5 million yen, or about $30,500.

Author profile

Yasushi Kurita was born in Tokyo. He has spent the last 30 years as a writer for print publications and TV. When he was in college, he spent two years in New York. His favorite band is the Atlanta Rhythm Section, making him one of about 15 Japanese people who actually like that band.