I think to compare them probably means you are missing the boat and maybe an Alfa isn`t for you. It`s like comparing a Rolex with a battery powered watch. If you like ordinary and aren`t prepared to adapt a little to the car the 510 is the car to go for-undemanding, built for the common denominator and no pedigree. Build quality ok but materials, fasteners, and engineering inferior. Body flimsier, not as fast as an Alfa, doesn`t brake as well, doesn`t handle as well. Called a Datsun 1600 over here.
I personally find 510s pretty appealing. However, finding one that isn't a rat or a hotted-up boy racer is difficult nowadays. They certainly proved their mettle against Alfa in the Trans Am in the 70s, but Brock, with Datsun engineering behind him, sure had a lot of resources compared to Kwech and the other Alfa racers.
A stock 510 is a relatively low performance vehicle. The material is all there to prep to the level of an Alfa or better, but it's a lot of work. IRS is probably fundamentally better than Alfa's solid axle. The 1600 engine is fundamentally a good one, but not tuned in stock form.
Drive both and see what you think. The 510 is going to feel tinny compared to the Alfa. Japanese cars of the time were built of pretty thin steel, while Alfas were like battleships by comparison.
There's lots to read on 510 vs. GTV from Trans Am period race reports and the like, and Road & Track did a track test of a Brock 510, Kwech GTV, Pike 2002. The 510 wasn't really competing against the Berlina in the marketplace, as the Berlina was a sports/luxury car and the 510 was an economy car. And virtually no one in period raced Berlinas; they raced GTVs, GTAs, TI Supers, Spiders.
In stock form Andrew the Datsun IRS was inferior to the well located Alfa rear axle in every way and that is what the question was-comparison in stock form. The Datsun 1600 (510 in States) was a big seller here in NZ. Alfas were very rare and the Datsuns were used in motorsport extensively-we even had our own special performance version the triple s (Datsun 1600 SSS). Handling wise because of the compromised independent rear end they were very tail happy and broke away suddenly. Alfa knew through experience that a properly executed live rear axle was superior to a poorly executed IRS rear any day and was a far more predictable system for Joe Average customer.
Over here the price of a 1750 Berlina would have bought nearly two 510s, so they were not exactly competing on the same market. 510s outsold Alfas maybe 100 to 1 as a result...
I would not go as far as saying that the 510 had "no pedigree"; its spec sheet was inspired from the BMW 1600, quite sophisticated compared to other economy cars of the period. It holds a place in history as THE car that established Japanese carmakers on the North American market.
While a stock 510 was not exactly inspiring to drive, with often basic preparation it achieved significant results in amateur road racing, rallying and autocross and remained competitive well into the 90's. In the 70's it was THE sports sedan to have until the hot hatches appeared.
I've owned one, amidst a bunch of Alfas, and each has its charm.
Yes the 510 was inspired by the Neuwe Klasse BMW`s-the Japanese engineers were real motoring enthusiasts and great copyists of that which they admired however Datsun did not have the great history of Alfa nor was the engineering (because of the need to make a car cheap and competitive in a larger market segment) the same "to hell with the cost" standard that Alfa, then still government owned, enjoyed. Alfa were aimed at middle and upper middle class, Datsun the average man and as a consequence even if the Japanese engineers wanted to they could not afford to engineer to the same standard. That`s why Alfa lost money-they sold cars at less than what it took to manufacture them. Even the Italian goverment in the end couldn`t continue tipping tax payers money in.
In our country the Datsun 1600 and the Fiat 125`s were THE cheaper performance mid sized cars. Both has NZ only higher performance versions -Datsun 1600 SSS and the Fiat 125 T. Mazda were also just getting going with their rotary engined RX`s too and in car starved NZ we led the way with rotary modification and development.
I'm not following you on the "NZ only" 1600 SSS - unless it was more than the twin SU carb version, which was sold in many countries. They never officially made it to the US, but some squeezed in - the fellow I bought mine from had dismantled one and transfered the bits. I've seen the 1600 SSS in places as far apart as Portugal and Costa Rica.
We're quite far from the TI Super, anyway.
What you say about Alfas of the Giulia era being over engineered is so true... it just did not make sense that a car in the 1300 TI category would be built with the same components as a high performance 2 liter. It could only happen in a place where the engineers ran the place and fed the bean counters to the lions. It will never happen again...
Yves, the NZ 1600 SSS had twin webers,engine and suspension mods and was made by Performance Developments Ltd with the sanction of Datsun NZ. Quite different and higher performance to what you know. Actually sold in Datsun showrooms as a semi official model. (We also had a Datsun 1200SSS).
Thread was comparing a STOCK 1750 Berlina (not a Ti Super) and Datsun 510, known as a Datsun 1600, in my part of the world.
You appear to agree a 1750 Berlina is in a different class.
The 510 has a giant following in the US, mainly due to the lowered, flared BRE cars from the Trans Am. There was not much stock Datsun left on those cars by the time Brock got them to the track, but in terms of marketing, it was one of the biggest coups ever, and Datsun made great hay from it. You still see "BRE replica" 510s around, with the iconic angled stripe, 40 years later.
Agreed on all points re who Alfa and Datsun were respectively selling to, price, and performance in stock condition. 60s and 70s Japanese sedans are utterly uninspiring to drive in stock form. Pedigree of provenance doesn't count as much in the US as in some other countries, I don't think, but BRE's Trans Am successes, and later with the Z and various cars in Baja, did wonders for Datsun's standing. Paul Newman being involved later with the Sharp cars didn't hurt either.
While, I suspect Giannio's trying to poke sticks in an ant-hill, it's a slow day so here goes.
The best analogy I can give is between a cheap guitar and a good guitar. They may look similar but the subjective experience of playing them immediately shows that the good one is light years ahead of the chepie in terms of quality.
And, once you know that difference and can understand it, the chepie has little appeal.
Yep, driving a stock 510 (if you can find one), you'd never suspect how well they did on the racetrack.
To get a sense of the work involved, get ahold of "How to Modify Datsun 510, 610, 240Z Engines and Chassis" from HP Books, a really good read as to Datsun changes, race modifications in general, and the extent of work required to compete at a high level. As I say, almost everything about these cars was non-stock by the time Morton jumped in and fired up the engine, but that's the norm for full-race cars. They reengineered and fabbed everything.
I loved these things at the time; I didn't even know what an Alfa was in 1970 other than that Kwech guy who kept getting in Morton's way. For further coverage (BRE and Brock were very good at promotion and marketing), read Sylvia Wilkinson's "The Stainless Steel Carrot," in which she trailed around with BRE during one of the TA seasons. She reports the pretty and the ugly from as close in as a race team would let a journalist get. A great read.
Maybe the 510 designation was used only in the US? Small two- and four-door sedans, plus wagons, sold by Datsun 1967-1973ish. 1600 OHC engine, four-speed and auto trans. Very square and purposeful. What BRE used in winning the SCCA 2.5 Trans Am when Kwech did not.
AH. Thanks all. Yes they are quite a fast unit. I race against some here in historics, although they are getting more rare. Always fast and reliable and light and a real pain in the a#s. Most have rusted away...they talk about alfa's.
The good old Datto 1600 (and yes Andrew they were only known in the US as the 510). But to compare a Datto 1600 to a Berlina is not the right comparison. Against the Giulia and Fiat 124/125 would be more appropriate as Richard commented on.
The thing is, out here in Aus, pretty much every Rally driver from the late 60s to probably early 90s cut their teeth on one of these Dattos and/or later models like the pig awful 180B and 200B (a 180B with 20 more mistakes). They were cheap, used to be in plentiful supply and once modified were very effective club level rally cars. In their day, they were a really successful rally car.
Not too many 1600s Dattos were track raced out here as I recall, say apart from at Bathurst and a few of the other major races around the country.
Neither the Alfa Giulia or Fiat 125 were readily raced or rallied out here, as they were too expensive, European (which meant strange) and generally were considered unreliable. Now of course we know this to be not so, but then we are the cognoscenti.
I remember going for a pretty fast and wild run in a rally prepared Datto 1600 owned by a mate of my brothers and being very impressed with its lightness and handling capabilities. He actually won his class in the State Rally Championship with it. It was a hoot. But while they were tough mechanically, bodily wise they were pretty flimsy.
Of course which would I prefer well the answer is obvious. I must admit, and Richard could testify to this, the 124 and 125 (of which I have owned examples of both in the past), while technically cheaper and perhaps ultimately not as good as the Alfa Giulia or Berlina, were both very competent Italian sports sedans. The 124 being underpowered (although the Special T did get the 1600 twin cam), but with some tweaking they could be made to go. Both handled well.
But yes like our Alfas, boy the Dattos also rusted pretty badly.