It seems that at present, mini-trucks are having a moment. Today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Datsun is one of those, and we’re just going to have to see if it’s priced to make a nice present for a new owner.
Have you ever looked at an unfamiliar manila folder and thought to yourself “Oh baby, this is where the adventure begins”? Yeah, probably not.
A similar sense of ennui greeted yesterday’s equally beige 1984 Toyota Camry turbo-diesel. That car’s age and expected lethargic performance proved an overwhelming counter to its $2,900 asking price and obscurity, resulting in a 56 percent Crack Pipe loss.
There was great rejoicing across autodom a couple of years back when Ford announced it was resurrecting the Ranger nameplate on a smaller than F-series pickup truck. Of course, when it debuted it wasn’t actually all that much smaller, being a mid-sized rather than a mini. Prices weren’t that far off F-150 territory either, a factor that probably played into Ford selling fewer than 90,000 Rangers last year compared to the F-150’s horny tribble-like 896K.
No one sells small pickups in the U.S. anymore. Not Ford, nor GM, nor even Toyota, whose Tacoma is just as disappointingly mid-sized as the Ranger. The closest you can get today to a mini-pickup of yore is Nissan’s Frontier, which feels like it’s been on the market pretty much since small trucks were a thing.
The Frontier has an ancestor that’s even smaller and is also one of the best-looking old mini-trucks you can find.
This 1978 Datsun 620 may have a different name and even brand from the Frontier, but it can accurately be considered its long-lost grandpappy.
The 620 arrived in the U.S. for the 1972 model year and shared much of its mechanicals with the 510 family car line, using that model’s L-series engines and initially, its four-speed transmission. The truck could be had in regular and, starting in late 1976, extended “King Cab” body styles.
This one is a regular cab, standard bed, and comes with the 97 horsepower 2-litre SOHC four. It also has the five-speed gearbox and that should make highway cruising much better on both the ears and the nerves.
The truck looks solid and without major road rot either in the body or the bed. There is some creeping crud under the hood, but that’s fairly minimal. At least everything else in there looks complete and functional. The ad claims that the truck runs “like new” and rolls on fresh rubber.
Rub strips protect the bright yellow paint on each side and add to a little visual interest, as do the stamped wheel covers and trim rings on each corner. The white-painted grille and blue fender corners are both a little jarring and would be one of the first things I would fix as a new owner. That and the pushing out of the dent behind the front side-marker.
The interior is a bit of a hodgepodge, with black vinyl everywhere save for the bench and the dash toupee that’s hiding—poorly, I might add—a major crack in the dash above the glove box. You’ll also note here that the paint job is a re-spray and that weatherstripping was a secondary consideration during that process. It’s a bit hard to tell if the floor in here is vinyl-covered or if that’s just more black paint on the metal floor that’s crept in from the bed in the back.
Regardless, it’s all seemingly serviceable, and solid. There’s a mere 121,000 miles on the clock, and the title is clean.
Now, if you follow the mini pickup market at all—which, why wouldn’t you?—you will likely know that ‘70s trucks have become a thing. Prices on Mazda REPUs, old Toyota Hilux trucks, Ford Couriers, and Chevy LUVs are all trending at the moment. That’s likely due to attrition bringing the supply well below a relatively flat level of demand, but suffice to say, if you want one of these cool old trucks to fart around in, your options are going to be limited.
This option is only limited by its $3,900 asking price and it’s now up to you to decide how limiting that might be. What do you think, should a mini-truck fan drop that $3,900 on this little Datsun? Or, is that just too much cash for so small a truck?
H/T to Gerry B. for the hookup!
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