As enthusiasts, I think it’s safe to assume that almost all of us would’ve had at least one romance with an old car.
There’s a special type of charm and feel that simply cannot be replicated with most, if not all, modern cars. But even then, how often to hear about someone keeping a car for longer than a few years? I can’t speak for any of you, but if you’re anything like me, you probably get bored and move on to the next hype or thing that piques your interest every two to three years. Maybe four to five if you’re more emotionally attached.
But in the midst of our never-ending desire for consumption and new material things, there will always be a handful of people that refuse to cave in, and instead are content with what already exists for them. Perhaps a more stoic approach to their car if you want to give it an appropriate term. One of those people is Andy Huie, owner of this purpose-built, SR20DET-swapped Datsun 510. In a much more stock state, this was actually the first car he ever purchased, way back in 1986.
I sat down with Andy to discuss what makes his 510 special enough to justify over three and a half decades of ownership.
AH: “I was first introduced to this car by my brother Albert, who called me out of the house one day to take a look at a visiting classmate’s car that was ‘pretty fast’. At the end of the driveway was a blue little box that was pretty low to the ground and had a black vinyl top. My brother asked his classmate to take me for a spin to see what it could do, and everything changed after that. I was so impressed with the handling characteristics and speed the car could carry that all I could think about afterward were Datsun 510s.
But it wasn’t until about six months later that we went to visit Albert’s classmate again at a local BBQ when I inquired if he still had the car. He still had it, but it had broken down and was left in the backyard to be tended to later when the owner found more time. With the help of another friend and 510 enthusiasts, we managed to convince the owner to sell me the car, and shortly after snuck it home, hidden from my parents, to start the work on getting it running again.”
NY: It’s crazy how a small gesture like going on a quick spin can snowball into something that ends up consuming or turning into a life long endeavor. But then again, that’s typically how many of us start our this trip, right? It takes that one spark and the rest just happens. But how or what made you decide to not sell the car at any point between then and now?
AH: “I’ve had many ‘nice’ cars, but you can only have one first car. It wasn’t worth much when I got it, and hadn’t really become worth any crazy amount between then and now anyway, so there wasn’t really any reason to let it go. And I feel very lucky to say that I still have my first car after 36 years have gone by.”
NY: How has your ownership of the years translated to where and how the car is today? I’m sure there were many ups and downs throughout the time, but it’s clear the car is as perfect and dialed as it would ever be now, so what caused that jump?
AH: “The car stopped running and was parked at around 2004, and ever since then I’ve wanted to do a full restoration with it. But also, I wanted to be able to get it out on our local tracks. I have tracked motorcycles and other cars for years, but never the 510, and that was the highlight and reasoning behind going down the deep rabbit hole.”
NY: You definitely went all-out, and with the right people in the industry. I always tell people how living in the right place at the right time can make or break your goals, and the former certainly played out for the dime. Tell us more about that.
AH: “Well, back when I first got the car, most of the mechanical work I learned was by working on this car. I even swapped an L18 into it with my friend Ken’s help, so I used the car as a tool to gain some experience and knowledge. But when it came time to restore the car and turn it into my ultimate vision, I leaned on the expertise and advice of local Datsun legends Troy Ermish and Hoover Chan, and we can all see that they delivered.”
NY: Delivered is an understatement, the car is so nice that I have no doubt it could take home any trophy it wanted at a show. But to know that it’s going to be used on track is what really makes it special in my opinion. I don’t mean this with any hate (so don’t go off on me in the comments readers), but I’m entirely jaded from show cars and the car show scene as a whole. I no longer find it interesting if it’s not being used, and this is coming from someone who swore by show cars a decade ago. We live and we learn though, and I’m excited to hopefully shoot it during a track day in the future.
AH: “That’s what it’s all about. I’m looking forward to finally getting it out on track now that it’s complete. And I do have to thank Ermish Racing and TurboHoses R&D for bringing my imagination to light. This 510 has lived most of its life with me, and they were able to help keep that going with an all-new and improved approach.”