All images: Eric Nielsen (Facebook Marketplace) unless otherwise stated
All images: Eric Nielsen (Facebook Marketplace) unless otherwise stated

I realize people are concerned with little things like “retirement funds” and “layoffs,” but don’t let those small worries make you lose sight of what’s really important in this world. Specifically, I’m referring to this amazing, manual-transmission, 4x4, 47,000 mile 1986 Nissan Pickup. It’s a former racetrack service truck, and its “coolness-to-dollar ratio” gauge is pegged to max.

What you’re looking at here is one of the most appealing vehicles I’ve ever had the strength to resist purchasing. It’s a small, regular cab, low mileage 4x4 pickup with a manual transmission, a low asking price, no rust, and an awesome racing pedigree.

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No, it didn’t actually do the racing, but it did apparently act as a support truck at Mid Ohio Sports Car Course—a famous racetrack in Lexington, Ohio. The truck still has the track’s logo on its doors:

Illustration for article titled Were All Fools For Not Buying This Dirt Cheap 47,000 Mile Nissan Pickup

Nissan 720 trucks like this one were the predecessors to the legendary squared-off Nissan “Hardbody” pickups. Most 720s came with two-barrel carburetors, but the last model year (which was actually a shared model year with the Hardbody), 1986, offered fuel injection in only the highest trim: ST. That’s apparently what the truck in the listing is, because the seller told me it’s fuel injected. This means the inline-four under the hood is the 2.4-liter Z24i “NAPS-Z” motor. It’s got a Hemi head with two spark plugs per cylinder, and makes 106 horsepower and 137 lb-ft of torque.

That engine is hooked to a five-speed manual transmission, which sends power to a transfer case with a 2.07 low range gear ratio (the hubs are automatically locking, which meant something back in the 1980s, when you had to get out of some trucks to put them into 4x4). Power then goes to 4.11 gears in the differentials, the rear of which is part of a leaf-sprung solid axle, and the front of which is separate from the torsion bar-sprung independent suspension.

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Image: Nissan
Image: Nissan

It’s a body-on-frame truck with a six-food bed and a regular cab with two bucket seats. There’s really not a whole lot to it; the steering is a recirculating ball design with variable ratio (old school; pretty much the only passenger vehicles that use that today are heavy-duty trucks and Jeep Wranglers/Gladiators); the brakes are drums out back and discs in the front; and if you want an automatic transmission, you’re stuck with a three-speed (though it does have a lockup clutch for better fuel economy).

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Image: Nissan
Image: Nissan

Speaking of fuel economy, the fuel injected 4x4 manual Nissan truck was rated at 22 mpg highway and 18 city, though that’s since been revised by the EPA to 20 mpg highway, 16 MPG city.

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By modern standards, those numbers aren’t great, especially considering the fact that this amazing little truck only weighs about 3,050 pounds—over 750 pounds less than a new base model 4x2 Nissan Frontier. It’s also nearly three feet shorter than the Frontier (which itself is small for its class), over nine inches narrower, and at least six inches shorter in height.

Image: Nissan
Image: Nissan
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Anyway, back to the truck at hand. It was for sale in Grosse Pointe, Michigan for $2,250 (it sold after I filed this story), which is not a lot considering the fact that the 2.4-liter inline-four only has 46,890 miles on it! And this is not a case of “the sixth digit rolled over.” No, the sixth digit, shown in the picture of the awesome clock-featuring dash, is still zero!

“This was a race track service truck for most of its life, at Mid Ohio,” the seller, owner of the repair shop Mack Garage, writes in his Facebook Marketplace listing.

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“It has 46,000 original miles. The body is in good condition, a few areas of scratches and small dents,” he continues. “The underside is very clean, minimal surface rust. Mechanically the truck runs and drives great. 4 wheel drive works great, it has a manual 5 speed transmission. Recent repairs include: Exhaust system Starter Oil change Steering idler arm Clutch master and slave cylinder Front tires.”

Illustration for article titled Were All Fools For Not Buying This Dirt Cheap 47,000 Mile Nissan Pickup
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This is a seriously badass pickup, especially considering how rust-free the underside looks:

Illustration for article titled Were All Fools For Not Buying This Dirt Cheap 47,000 Mile Nissan Pickup
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Illustration for article titled Were All Fools For Not Buying This Dirt Cheap 47,000 Mile Nissan Pickup

The interior needs work, as one of the images shows a missing shifter boot, a stained carpet, covered seats, and quite a few scratches on the plastic trim. None of this should be surprising for a racetrack support vehicle.

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Illustration for article titled Were All Fools For Not Buying This Dirt Cheap 47,000 Mile Nissan Pickup

The seller, Eric Nielsen, told me over Facebook Messenger that his friend bought the truck from Mid Ohio racetrack, and had the vehicle serviced at Mack Garage, before Nielsen eventually bought it. The garage owner told me he was trying to make space at his workplace, which is why the lovely 4x4 had to go.

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It’s cheap. It’s a manual. It’s got four-wheel drive. It’s fuel injected. It apparently runs and drives well. It’s basically rust-free. It’s got an awesome backstory. And it has very few miles on the odometer.

“Anyone would be a fool not to buy this truck” I wrote on Friday. The fact that it sold over the weekend tells me I was right.

Sr. Technical Editor, Jalopnik. Always interested in hearing from auto engineers—email me. Cars: Willys CJ-2A ('48), Jeep J10 ('85), Jeep Cherokee ('79, '91, '92, '00), Jeep Grand Cherokee 5spd ('94).

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