Junkyard Find: 1972 Datsun 521 Pickup

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1972 datsun 521 pickup

We saw a Datsun 620 Junkyard Find recently, and now I’ve found an example of the 620’s predecessor: the 520.

I’ve always admired the small Japanese pickups of the late 1960s and early 1970s, but I still wasn’t prepared for the beauty of this instrument cluster. The speedometer has real depth that’s not readily apparent in this photograph. Such simplicity, yet there’s genuine style as well. I may have to go back and buy it.

The good old L engine, the same family that went into 510s, Z cars, and countless other Nissan products from the 1960s through the 1980s. This is the four-cylinder L16.

At some point, this truck’s former owner added skull-themed window film and dice switch knobs.

I’m not sure where this aftermarket fuel tank, seen sitting under the camper shell, came from. Perhaps it was pulled from this truck, or maybe it came from another vehicle in this self-service yard.

These pickups weren’t as prized as their Toyota counterparts, so you don’t see as many of them still chugging along in daily service. Perhaps the L engine wasn’t quite as bulletproof as the Toyota R, but it came close.

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  • Namstrap Namstrap on Jun 02, 2012

    I worked at a Datsun dealership when these trucks were new. We had one like this done up as a tow truck, and it used to haul in full size American pickups. When we did car shows, we'd set up a special ramp in the back of a 521 so we could drive another one up on top of it, just to show it could carry its own weight. I remember the gearing being quite low to allow it to accomplish this stuff.

  • Patrick McCall Patrick McCall on Jun 02, 2012

    The two door Nissan Pathfinder obviously has DNA from the late 80's Pulsar NX.

  • Sayahh Is it 1974 or 1794? The article is inconsistent.
  • Laura I just buy a Hyndai Elantra SEL, and My car started to have issues with the AC dont work the air sometimes is really hot and later cold and also I heard a noice in the engine so I went to the dealer for the first service and explain what was hapenning to the AC they told me that the car was getting hot because the vent is not working I didnt know that the car was getting hot because it doesnt show nothing no sign no beep nothing I was surprise and also I notice that it needed engine oil, I think that something is wrong with this car because is a model 23 and I just got it on April only 5 months use. is this normal ? Also my daughter bought the same model and she went for a trip and the car also got hot and it didnt show up in the system she called them and they said to take the car to the dealer for a check up I think that if the cars are new they shouldnt be having this problems.
  • JamesGarfield What charging network does the Polestar use?
  • JamesGarfield Re: Getting away from union plantsAbout a dozen years or so ago, Caterpillar built a huge new engine plant, just down the road here in Seguin TX. Story has it, Caterpillar came to Seguin City council in advance, and told them their plans. Then they asked for no advanced publicity from Seguin, until announcement day. This new plant was gonna be a non-union replacement for a couple of union plants in IL and SC, and Cat didn't want to stir up union problems until the plan was set. They told Seguin, If you about blab this in advance, we'll walk. Well, Seguin kept quiet as instructed, and the plan went through, with all the usual expected tax abatements given.Plant construction began, but the Caterpillar name was conspicuously absent from anywhere on the site. Instead, the plant was described as being a collective of various contractors and suppliers for Caterpillar. Which in fact, it was. Then comes the day, with the big new plant fully operationa!, that Caterpillar comes in and announces, Hey, Yeah it's our plant, and the Caterpillar name boldly goes up on the front. All you contractor folks, welcome aboard, you're now Caterpillar employees. Then, Cat turns and announces they are closing those two union plants immediately, and will be transporting all the heavy manufacturing equipment to Seguin. None of the union workers, just the equipment. And today, the Caterpillar plant sits out there, humming away happily, making engines for the industry and good paying jobs for us. I'd call that a winner.
  • Stuki Moi What Subaru taketh away in costs, dealers will no doubt add right back in adjustments.... Fat chance Subaru will offer a sufficient supply of them.