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Tracking Down a Specific Baja BRE Datsun 510...

spalind

Well-Known Member
OK, so about two weeks ago I came across a photo of a Datsun 510 racing in a High Desert Trails stage rally event in the mid 70's and I asked a couple questions about it (on another forum) and down the rabbit hole we went...

This 4 door, RHD Datsun 510 (actually a Nissan Bluebird SSS I believe) was initially campaigned by the Datsun works efforts in a handful of East African Safari events before being turned over to the BRE camp where it ran in a number of Baja events before being scheduled to be returned to Japan for an examination by the Datsun engineers. As it was to be loaded onto a boat it fell off a loading vehicle and was damaged. Engineers determined that the damage from the fall could not be distinguished from the stress from racing and thus would not be useful to the engineers.

It was therefore sold to a California resident by the name of RC (Bob) Laton (who would later compete in and win a number of baja events in other vehicles) who ran it in a few rallies (including winning the aforementioned High Desert Trails event) before selling it to a Michigan resident by the name of John Crawford. Mr. Crawford reportedly found it to be far more set up for desert events than Eastern rallies and sold it back to an unknown California resident who flew into Michigan and drove it back.

This is where I have gotten on tracking down the eventual resting place of the vehicle. If anyone has any information or recommendations on who might be good to question on this it would be greatly appreciated. I am going to try and contact BRE and see if they have any knowledge of it. Other special aspects of it from that time would include that it possessed a 5 speed out of a Datsun roadster, is believed to be a '69 model or older and have an R-20 engine.

Photo of it here from the 1973 High Deser Trails event
 

toddz

Well-Known Member
How many different 510s did Peter Brock race? There was one on display (in rough but restorable shape) at the 40th Anniversary Baja 1000 party in Long Beach in 2007. I think I have a pic or two if it would help.

Todd Z.
 

spalind

Well-Known Member
How many different 510s did Peter Brock race? There was one on display (in rough but restorable shape) at the 40th Anniversary Baja 1000 party in Long Beach in 2007. I think I have a pic or two if it would help.

Todd Z.
Yeah, I think thats the one (still unrestored) sitting in the BRE shop in Henderson. As it is really a Bluebird SSS and not a "true" 510, I believe the one in the shop IS one of the original ones that raced in Africa and then in Baja and was scheduled to be returned to Japan--whether it THE 510 that was sold to a RC Laton, then to John Crawford in MI and then bought again by someone in and returned to CA, I do not know. Brock may have bought one of the remaining cars from Datsun after they went back to Japan and had it brought here. BRE hasn't responded to my inquiry and John Crawford doesn't remember the individual he sold it to in CA...
 

germancarsonly

Well-Known Member
RHD = Right side steering wheel like is used in places like Japan. Those cars (3 of them) were built in Japan and not by BRE. They were on loan to BRE for a few years and as has been said at least one of them is still here in the USA. It's back in Pete's hands now and maybe it will get restored if it hasn't been already.

But, those cars were truds that just plugged up the course on anything that wasn't paved or fairly smooth. Any stock 1200 CC VW sedan would smoke them as soon as the course got a little rough.

As far as I remember the only Datsun that was fast was the BRE 240Z that Lee Midgley drove even though it broke it's share of parts whenever it raced.
 

spalind

Well-Known Member
Yeah, I understand they were probly turds...not really interested in them from a "racing" perspective, more interested in them from a historical POV. Don't see too many cars that raced in Africa, Baja and then went into private ownership hands doing rallies around the US.

Pete DOES have one in his shop in Henderson...I just need to determine if THAT is the one that fell off the loading dock and ended up in private hands here in the US and going to Michigan before return to CA in the late 70's or if its a different one he bought back at some point from Datsun/Nissan in Japan. It would also be nice to know what happend to the other onces that went back to Japan--are they in a Nissan museum? Were they completely torn apart?
 
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