Project 510 – '73 JDM grille

I’ve been wanting one of these grilles for a while now. Initially, when I first saw one, I hated them. The ’73 model Datsun 1600/510 was never sold in Australia (we only got the ’68-’72) so growing up as a Datsun obsessed tween/teenager I never actually saw one until a local car magazine featured an American 510 complete with the plastic grille and huge 18″ wheels. Even then I wasn’t sold, to me it looked out of place and ruined the face of the 510. It wasn’t until I saw completed pictures of a blue 2-door 510 (click here to view) that I became aware of the appeal. They tie-in really well with a jdm-styled datto, low ride height and smaller wheels. From that moment on I had to have one!

After casually browsing every now and then, one popped up on eBay Motors US, so I jumped on the chance and won it. Who else loves getting packages delivered to their work?

Once it arrived, I got straight to work. I wanted the whole grille & headlight surrounds to be black, with a silver outline around the headlight surrounds. This is how most of them are painted on cars I’ve seen on the net.

Once I started sanding it down, some chunks of paint would flake off. It appears to have been painted a few times in the past. Not wanting to turn this into a week-long ordeal, I grabbed a paint scraper and scraped off as much paint as I could, and then got some 400grit sandpaper and tried to sand the rest of it down as evenly as possible.


Here is one headlight surround sanded down, you can still see the different layers of paint but it is fairly even now and ready for paint.

The centre of the grille is actually metal, and the headlight surrounds are plastic. I masked off the two middle strips of the grill as I want them to maintain their polished appearance

Make sure you have a good helper in the garage…

After a few coats of paint…

Time to peel off the tape from the centre bars…

To do the silver outline on the headlight surrounds, I chose to use a silver pen. (You can see my coilover measurements scribbled down from previous height adjustments)


But as you can see below, the pen wasn’t thick enough, and required a few passes before it covered in the area properly. The problem here is that when you run over an area which has already been draw on it tends to build up and get messy.


So the solution was to use some silver spray paint, sprayed into the lid of the can and applied with a paint brush. Yep, that’s the cheapo brand!

It worked a treat, went on smooth and even.

Now to attach it to the car. Here is the old grille and headlight surrounds which I spent so much time repairing, polishing, and painting. It’ll be a shame to see it removed but I know the final outcome will be worth it.

All removed (I don’t mind this look, as seen on Irish from VRT’s now sadly burnt out 2door, click here & here to view)…

And the new face!

With the bonnet down…


So what does everyone think? It’s an acquired taste, that’s for sure, but I absolutely love it. It toughens up the front end, especially if you scroll back up and compare it to the picture with the old setup, you can really see how much it changes it. I also think it ties in alot better with the plastic front lip now, and the wheels too. A real black/white theme is starting to form.

DSLR pics soon! Stay tuned…

11 thoughts on “Project 510 – '73 JDM grille”

  1. That looks great with the 73 grille on there. Can’t wait to see pics of the whole car out in the daylight with the new grille, lip and wheels.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.