Inspiration is the most important thing to any automotive enthusiast. While we can be motivated, inspiration is an absolute necessity. As a person who has a particular fondness for cars, you run into moments that probably inspire you all the time, whether you're at an event or looking at photos online. Nobody just wakes up one day and decides to be into cars. If you happen to be one of those individuals who had a family member pave the road for you to the wonderful world of cars and/or car modification, congratulations you probably had a pretty cool childhood. The father/son relationship is the archetypical dynamic that every car guy wishes they had. A father has the opportunity to show his child what he is into and the son gets to experience a hobby that his father is passionate about. There are no guarantees that the kid will grow up with the same kind of passion or interest but a parent can dream, right?
Colton Ray is one of those guys. He grew up with a particular interest in cars because his father, Bill, was a genuine motor-head. His dad loved cars and tried to include Colton in everything that his hobby had to offer. Colton's dad loved the Datsun 510 chassis and as long as he could remember, so did he. "My first experience with a (Datsun) 510 happened when I was 8 years-old," he reminisces. "My father was into every kind of 510 you can think of, whether it be the two-door, the sedan, the wagons, it really didn't matter. He had found one in the classifieds of our local paper so we got a trailer to go pick it up from the seller. When we arrived, I was surprised to see that it was a race car. I didn't know too much about them but I later found out that it was an SCCA ITC (Sports Car Club of America's Improved Touring C-spec) 510 with a balanced and blueprinted L16 motor. I was a young kid at the time so I didn't really appreciate it but I knew it was a special car. It was at that moment that I learned what a 510 was."
Colton's dad was always on the lookout for 510s, no matter what the occasion. Even when they were on family outings and trips, he would still manage to find time to dig one up. He explains: "When I was about 10 years old, my family and I decided to take a cross country trip in our big Ford pick-up truck. It was great; we got to see Arizona, California, and other states out west. As we were traveling through Colorado, my father spotted a '71 two-door 510 in the classifieds. He already had the ITC car but it was just too race-prepped and not very street-able. He thought this two-door was a good deal for what it came with so we rented a dolly and gave the owner an offer he couldn't refusethat '71 coupe is actually the car you see here today." Upon their return, Colton and his father got right to work, ripping off the old Weber carbs for a dual set of 44mm Mikuni side drafts. The car was then assigned to daily duties for the next few years until Colton was finally able to drive when he turned sixteen. That's a pretty cool dad by anyone's standards. If that wasn't enough, his father didn't even get angry when Colton blew the motor of the 510 on a "spirited" drive to work one day.
Both father and son worked together to put another motor into the Datsun, but Colton's first car was later sold to one of his father's close friends, a man who was known simply as "Datsun Dave". Dave loved 510s just as much as Colton's dad but wanted to take the classic in an entire new direction; he wanted to try and cram a newer, bigger Nissan motor in the coupe. Colton's dad then sourced a low mileage 3.0L VG30E out of a 1995 Nissan Pathfinder and the swap was underway. Datsun Dave wanted to extract the most out of the V6 engine and had the foresight to install an Electromotive TEC3 standalone engine management system. Ray had a vested interest in the coupe the entire time Datsun Dave owned the car and always kept an eye on the progress of the build. A couple years later Dave wanted to move onto another project and decided to sell the car.
"I wasn't in the financial position to purchase it from him but luckily a family friend bought it and kept it around. The entire time I knew I had to try and get the car back. It had meant a lot to me since it had been a part of our family. My dad and I had done so much work to it over the years that I didn't want it to go to someone else that wouldn't appreciate it," Colton says. The family friend who had the VG30E 510 in his possession wanted to sell the car to fund his venture in racing Z cars and luckily, Colton was in a better financial state to possibly buy the car back he just needed a little bit of help. "My father helped me out and financed it for me interest-free as a birthday present. Once I was able to pay off the rest of the car, I picked it up from his house. It was a great day because I finally had the car I wanted."
Datsun Dave had done quite a bit to the car but there were some things that Colton wanted to change to make it his own. He lowered the 510 more and had the aged trim pieces throughout the car recoated in a black finish. The paint itself had been pretty well-preserved so it just took some polishing to bring out the shine again. He wanted to squeeze some more power out of the VG30E and opted to go with nitrous-induction. A NOS kit helped to extract about 221whp out of the motor but the power just wasn't consistent enough to suit Ray's needs.
"I did a ton of research and discovered that the VG30E block could sustain 400+whp on stock internals. I was dead set on boost after that tidbit of info. I did some shopping around but felt the most comfortable with Andy and the crew over at Elite Auto Engineering. They ultimately were the ones responsible for fabricating an entire custom turbo kit around a Precision 5857 turbocharger."
The boosted VG30E remained completely untouched internally, other than a set of Isky Racing camshafts. Fuel upgrades came in the form of 440cc injectors while a mix of water/methanol injection helped to bring down intake air temperature. The TEC3 EMS never left the car so they were able to maximize the potential of this set-up to the tune of 376whp and over 400lb-ft of torqueall that violent momentum in a not-so-big Datsun. The rest as they always say is history. Colton says, "The turbo made the 510 a completely new car. It felt very similar to nitrous but I had power all the time. It pulled like an absolute freight trainand that's an understatement. It's so violent and keeps me pressed into the seat every time until I let off the gas."
"It's pretty wild to think back now at how far both this 510 and I have changed throughout the years. I love where the car is at now but I'm honestly just happy to have it back in the family. The love for the 510 chassis is something that I will always share with my dad and the memories of working on them together are moments both of us will never forget."
1971 Datsun 510
Owner Colton Ray
Hometown Plymouth, MN
Power 376whp, 404lb-ft
Engine 1995 3.0L Nissan VG30E; Team Thump VG30 installation kit; Precision 5857 .82AR turbocharger, PW46 wastegate; PTP turbo blanket; Elite Auto Engineering-fabricated stainless steel tubular manifolds, crossover, downpipe, intake manifold; eBay intercooler, TiAL style blow-off valve; RC 750cc fuel injectors; Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator; Isky Racing camshafts; -AN fittings; Bosch fuel pump; oversized custom radiator with single electric fan; Redline lubricants; NOS nitrous oxide kit, bottle heater, bottle blanket, remote bottle opener
Drivetrain Nissan Z32 5-speed manual transmission; ACT 6-puck unsprung clutch; eBay S13 short throw shifter; Subaru 3.7 R160 clutch pack limited-slip differential
Engine Management Electromotive TEC3 ECU
Footwork & Chassis Tilton offset caster/camber plates; Quikor rear sway bar; Datsun 280Z struts w/bumpsteer spacers; Tokico Illumina 5-way adjustable strut inserts; front Swift springs; rear QA1 springs; 1-inch front sway bar; polyurethane bushing kit
Brakes Toyota 4WD truck ('79-'84) 4-piston front brake calipers; Wilwood Dynalite rear calipers; 15/16th 280ZX brake master cylinder; Wilwood brake assembly switch/proportioning valve
Wheels & Tires 15x7" 0-offset Drag DR20; 205/50R15 (front)/225/45R15 (rear) Nitto NT01 tires
Exterior 03 Dodge Viper red paint; shaved side markers, license plate lights, 510 emblem, Datsun emblem, mirrors; rolled front fenders, pulled rear fenders; FutoFab Spook spoiler; blacked-out grille, headlight surrounds, taillights surround; BRE-style vinyl graphics
Interior Corbeau GTS seats; 4-point camlock safety harnesses; Grant quick-release steering wheel hub, steering wheel; 4-point rollbar; custom aluminum dashboard with factory dash pad and glove box; Stewart Warner Maximum RPM-series tachometer, air/fuel ratio gauge, fuel level gauge, oil pressure gauge, coolant temperature gauge, oil temperature gauge, voltmeter gauge, exhaust gas temperature gauge and fuel pressure gauge; Auto Meter Phantom-series boost gauge, speedometer and nitrous pressure gauge
Thank You My Father, Bill Ray; Andy and Jamie at Elite Auto Engineering; Ron at RS Motors; my car club LIC; John at Ultimate Finish; and my wife Grace for putting up with my projects