The toughest calls on what qualifies as a street sighting are usually those belonging to car show spectators. Even more difficult is when those cars are across the street, around the corner or down the block from the car show itself. Here is one such vehicle that really spoke to me, a 1971 Datsun 510 sedan which, at the time I photographed it, was an unrestored two-owner car with 63,000 miles.
I love a survivor, especially one that's been preserved but enjoyed for its entire life. This Datsun 510 was purchased new by a gentleman who, if memory serves, kept it until his death. The current owner showed me around the car after I took these pictures. The 1.6 liter engine and blue vinyl interior looked like new. Outside, the original blue paint looks perfect from across the street. Up close, there's visible wear but mostly limited to the trunk lid. Note the right rear corner where the paint is worn down to bare metal. According to the owner, the original owner had a very small garage that forced him to go around behind the car and squeeze between it and the garage door frame to get into his house. As a result, he rubbed his coat or pants against the corner of the car every time he came home. For forty years.
If the wheelcovers look a little off but oddly familiar, you aren't crazy. They're Ford Pinto hubcaps. In my opinion they actually look better on the car than the factory hubcaps. An awful lot of these spunky little cars get turned into track toys and tuners, or simply rust out. So a fundamentally stock and very original example is hard to find, and a low-mileage one rarer still.
California Streets is a blog that celebrates the history of the automobile in California. We feature old, interesting and often rare cars and trucks found parked on public streets and roads around the state of California.
I'm a delivery driver by trade, but I'm also a freelance artist and hobby photographer in the San Francisco Bay Area with a healthy interest in cars. I love finding and documenting fascinating old cars wherever I go.