Missed opportunities can often be hard to forget, especially when shopping for a unique item. If a second opportunity were to come up, it would almost feel like hitting the jackpot. Just don’t fail to pull the trigger, lest you will discover the definition of “great disappointment.”
Text and Photos by Richard Fong
Lurking and Trolling
While surfing the web and forums, Mark P. stumbled upon a build thread that captured his attention. The vehicle, a Datsun 510 with an SR20DET engine swap, ounded like a perfect streetcar. In his words, Mark felt that it was “the ultimate ‘not designed to be cool’ car that, once modified, offers supercar power-to- eight ratios.” He followed the build process and, once it was completed, reached out to the vehicle builder to make an offer to purchase it. But he was faced with the disappointment that it had already been sold. Mark recalled, “I was really set on this car, as I have always loved the body lines of the boxy 510. To find out that it was already gone left me no choice but to get back to surfing the web and keeping an eye out for another 510. Fortunately, the car popped up on eBay a short time later and I immediately bid on the car. Although I had to have it shipped to California from Virginia, I wasn’t about to let it get away from me a second time.”
Buyer’s RemorseOnce he took delivery of the car, this “ideal” streetcar’s flaws became more apparent as Mark looked it over in greater detail. His assessment of the car was bleak, as he needed to make a number of changes to get the 510 to a level that he could be happy with. He stated, “As with any car purchased over the internet, disappointment always seems to follow. After a close inspection, it became clear that corners were cut and it didn’t run anywhere as good as it looked. I ended up needing to rebuild the car from scratch.”
Mark started with the SR20DET engine. After several failed attempts to rebuild the engine, which turned out to be irreparable, he turned to Marcos at the SR20 Store for a solution. Marcos sourced him a clean SR20 and had the cylinder bores machined to 87mm. After honing, the cylinders were filled with a set of 8.5-to-1 compression CP Pistons with Eagle connecting rods. With the shortblock completed, Marcos mated the stock cylinder head fitted with BC Brian Crower valve springs and retainers to the block using ARP head studs and an A’PEXi metal head gasket to contain higher cylinder pressures.
With a fresh engine prepared, attention shifted to the next big problem, the wiring. While Mark was impressed with the original wire tuck that made the 510’s engine bay look clean in photos, his first test drives revealed that it was not nearly as clean or functioning as it could or should have been. He turned to JDM Concepts in Vista, California for a solution. The JDM Concepts team completely gutted the stock wiring harness all the way from the headlights to the taillights. Then, they customized a Painless Performance body harness to re-establish the electrical connections. The new harness ensured positive contact between the driver’s controls and practically every electrical component in the chassis. In addition, wiring specialist Naoto Negishi helped out with a new engine harness to link the A’PEXi Power FC ECU to the engine and related components.