1977 was one of the years of Peak Wagon in the United States, a year in which car shoppers here could choose among 47 different models of station wagon (the wagon count for 1964 was 47 as well). The choices were slightly diminished in 1978, but we were still in the Golden Age of Japanese station wagons here at that time. Toyota offered Americans three wagon choices for ’78 (Cressida, Corona, Corolla) and Nissan was right there with the Datsun 810, 510 and F-10. Here’s one of those all-but-extinct 510 wagons, found in a self-service yard near Sacramento, California.
Nissan played fast and loose with US-market Datsun model names during the 1970s and into the 1980s, so today’s Junkyard Gem isn’t related to the iconic 510s of the late 1960s and early 1970s. This car is an A10 wagon, known as the Nissan Violet Van or Auster Van in its homeland. The original 510 (based on the internal designation Nissan assigned to the 1967-1973 Bluebird) was such a success in the United States that Nissan just recycled the name for the version of the A10 Violet sold here for the 1978 through 1981 model years. Things got even more confusing with the 810 a bit later, when it evolved into the Datsun 810 Maxima, then the Datsun Maxima by Nissan, and finally the Nissan Maxima.
The generation of Violet after this one was sold here as the Datsun (and then Nissan) Stanza, but don’t mix up the Prairie-based Stanza Wagon with the Stanza car! Eventually, the Altima replaced the Stanza and the Nissan Violet was no more.
This wagon has proper rear-wheel-drive, like the original 510, and it came with a proper L20 1,952cc four-cylinder engine. This one had the cylinder head and all accessories yanked off years (probably decades) ago, but you can still see some bits indicating that expensive ($580, or $2,765 in inflation-adjusted 2022 dollars) air conditioning was installed.
The $250 ($1,190 today) automatic transmission is here as well. Base price on this car was $5,759, or about $27,460 today.
The factory Datsun AM/FM radio is still there.
It appears that this car broke down many years ago and spent quite a while deteriorating outside.
The six-digit odometer could be showing 78,033 miles… or many, many more miles. We’ll never know.
By the standards of 1970s Japanese cars, the rust on this one isn’t so bad. Still, enthusiasts don’t seem to care much for the A10 Violet, so it was unlikely that this car had much chance of avoiding its junkyard fate.
Nobody demands more from a Datsun than Datsun!