With all of the buzz about the new Toyota 86 and the Subaru BRZ, as well as the Chevy 130R concept that was shown in Detroit this week - I started doing some thinking. Or should I say, some daydreaming.
If the 86/BRZ turns out to be successful, there's a good chance Nissan will want to answer back with an affordable rear-drive car of its own.
Many are hoping this new car would be a reborn Silvia to attack the 86 head on - but do you know what might be even better? A revival of the classic Datsun 510.
The 510/Bluebird is a car that holds a legendary reputation across the world. A reputation for being inexpensive, practical, and most of all fun. It's also car that proved itself in motorsport when it was new and is still a favorite among grassroots and vintage racers around the world.
Imagine the possibilities if Nissan decided to release a small rear-drive car in the vein of the '68-'73 510. While the a new 510 probably wouldn't have the same low center of gravity as the purpose-built 86/BRZ it would make up for it in practicality and interior space.
Think less "sports car" and more "sports sedan". I'm Imagining something roughly the size of a current Honda Civic but with an FR layout.
Just like the original, this re-imagined 510 would be available as a four-door sedan. Perfect for those who want a fun, cheap rear-driver but need more interior space than the 86/BRZ and its tiny, backseat offer. The fact that the 86/BRZ are essentially two-seaters is surely something that will keep away buyers who can only have one car in their household.
A coupe version could also be available, something that would occupy the spot of the rumored Silvia successor. Perhaps this would take some styling cues from the Bluebird SSS Coupe. Full width rear taillight anyone?
At that point, there could also be a five-door hatchback/wagon version. Perfect for those who want maximum utility without sacrificing fun. Sounds like something that would go over well in hatchback-friendly markets like Japan and Europe.
For a powerplant, I'm imagining maybe an NA direct injected four-cylinder making somewhere in the range of 200 horsepower. Something with a decent torque curve that's still fun to rev out. It'd come with a 6-speed manual as well as some sort of modern automatic box.
With the groundwork for the chassis laid, Nissan could also go upmarket with the platform and give Infiniti a nice competitor for the BMW 1-series. Maybe with a bit of forced induction?
Like the 86/BRZ, this reborn 510 wouldn't be fast, but it would be plenty of fun. It would also be something you could load up with a few friends or family members and take for a weekend road trip.
The target for this car would essentially be the Volkswagen GTI, but with the rear wheels providing the power.
Nissan has proven it can play and win in the high end performance market with the GTR. It's also done well with the Fairlady Z. Now, how about something for the little guy?
Hey Nissan, I'll be right here waiting for you to hire me so we can get started on this.
Who wants one?