Mini pickups and Polar Bears have something in common, and it's not that their effluence smells like old seals. Instead it's that, for whatever reason, they're both getting increasingly rarer to find. Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe Datsun is a find, but will you find its price bearable?
Speaking of effluent output, yesterday's 1985 Winnebago Centauri could have been considered a crap wagon for both its resident, but not so commodious commode, and its unsurprisingly broken French gearbox. Despite the likelihood of dumping both cash and, well, you know what into it, at under a grand in price, that comfy cabin on wheels came away with a remarkable 74% Nice Price win.
From mini motorhomes to mini trucks, you just can't pick a better segue than that.
Take a look around you, I'll wait. You notice what you're not seeing? Little pick-em up trucks that's what. Time was, the U.S. was full of them - and for those of you in places outside the U.S. where they are still plentiful, stop pointing at us and laughing, our mother does not dress us funny.
Sticks and stones people, sticks and stones. And should you need to carry any of those sticks and stones, then today's 1972 Datsun 521 pickup is probably not your man, er truck. That's because it has a custom-lined bed made from felled trees and is likely as scratch prone as the cat bather at Whisker Pete's. In addition to the boarded up bed, there's also some spar varnished lumber replacing the crash pad on top of the dash. That may mean if you want an open casket after a bad crash the funeral home guy will have to pick splinters out of your forehead. But hey, that's his problem.
The rest of the interior is dominated by a pair of Blue's Clues-worthy puffy seats that seem a little out of place, plus door panels and dash covered in something claimed to be from the Al Cant era. I don't know who this Al was, or what he couldn't do, so that era must have been a long time ago. Regardless, the suede-like material covering most of the cabin seems to be in pretty good shape - even if it's an acquired taste. An aftermarket sport wheel looks like it was slapped out of the hands of some Need for Speed playing kid, while just like in a 911, the ignition sits to its left.
On the outside, the truck looks relatively stock albeit tastefully updated with the front bumper painted the same deep black as the body, and a pair of cat's eye LED tail lights in back. Some folks think these 520/521 trucks look like the contemporary 510 from the front, but I think they are more closely visually related to the earlier 411 Bluebird. They all share a four-lamp set up and this pickup goes kind of continental with its highbeams masked with selective yellow lenses. A set of what look like American Racing Outlaw II wheels brighten things up on the down low.
A big change during the 521's model run was the switch from OHV J series engines to the SOHC L16. This one is claimed to have been punched out to 1.8-litres for good measure. The gearbox here is appropriately manual and desirably five speed to boot. On the downside mechanically, the ad says that the carb is in need of a rebuild and while the seller has procured the necessary kit, he hasn't been able to find the few hours it would take to spiff that bad boy up. To that I just have to say. . ..
So, it's a majorly tidy little truck, which is something you don't see all that often outside of some JDM car shows any more. It hasn't been duckfaced, or hypertanned, or whatever current fad that will be untenable in the next week and a half. It sports some serious wood. And, it has both the model name and year stitched into the flame embossed door panels so you'll never again have to sit at a light, brow furrowed, wondering what the hell am I driving? That all speaks to what this awesomely presented (mad p-shop skills, bro) pickup has to offer. As for drawbacks, there's those seats (I prefer a bench myself) and the issue with the carb to take into account.
With that in mind, it's now up to you to determine the fate of this 521's $4,000 asking price. As noted these are a rare sight on the road today, and when you do see one it's typically clapped out with a bed filled full of Toro mowers and leaf blowers. Finding this diamond in the rough - literally, it's advertised as being in Sunland CA which is notable for being home to horses and many of Los Angeles' junk yards - seems auspicious to say the least. To say the most, do you think it's also worth $4,000? Or, is this a Datsun for which you exclaim dat much?!
Help me out with NPOCP. Click here to send a me a fixed-price tip, and remember to include your commenter handle.