Junkyard Find: 1980 Datsun 720 King Cab 4WD Pickup

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

I see a lot of old, totally used-up Toyota and Datsun pickups in self-service wrecking yards (though any of these newer than about 1984 is a rare sight), so it takes a fairly special one to make me shoot some photos. This extremely Malaise-ated ’80 King Cab 720, with its brown paint, huge “4X4” door decals, and excrement-inspired tan/yellow/brown tape stripes certainly got my attention last week.

It’s bashed up, the interior is toast, and the rust indicates an origin somewhere east and/or north of Colorado. Must be a million miles on this thing, eh?

Nope, just 155,221 miles on the clock. Either the odometer broke in 1992 or this truck drove a lot of very hard miles.

The full changeover to the Nissan marque was still a few years off at this point, but Nissan was laying the groundwork with these “Datsun By Nissan” badges.

Electronically protected! No doubt the alarm was a variation on the Taiwanese National Anthem theme.

The King Cab wasn’t very kingly. In fact, it would be considered utterly intolerable by present-day truck buyers. You could sort of squeeze a couple of passengers back there, if everyone involved was very motivated, but in practice the King Cab mostly served as a place to store stuff out of the rain.

Some good patina on this thing.

Even though this type of self-service yard charges about the same for a whole long block as for a wheelbarrow full of carefully selected engine innards, whoever pulled this L20 spent a lot of effort grabbing just the parts he wanted.

Here’s an option you don’t see very often on small pickups of this era: air conditioning!

The Datsun Value Phenomenon continues!

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • SteveInOkc SteveInOkc on Mar 22, 2013

    Much love for the 720 trucks. In 1983 grandpa let me ( A 10 y/o ) pick out a new 84 black on black King Cab 5spd S/T (PW, PL, PS, AC, Sunroof) then took me to my great grannys to learn to drive. Ah, Memories. Kept that truck till my mid 20's and stupidly sold it. Have had at least 10 720's and D21's (Hardbodys) as well as a 85 Yota with 400,000 honest original miles. I miss these trucks.

  • W Christian Mental Ward W Christian Mental Ward on Mar 22, 2013

    My youth is punctuated by the view from the passengers side of these trucks. Dad was a dealership manager for now defunct Fouts Brothers Datsun in Smyrna Georgia. On court mandated visitation weekends, I'd move my bag from my step-Dads Pinto into my Dads newest floor model Datsun pickup at the McDonalds in Commerce Georgia, (1/2 way between Greenville SC and Atlanta) At first it was the Lil Hustler, then the malise eras, then the Hardbodies. Always extended cabs, always 4x4s. By the time I moved in with my Dad, the Fouts Brothers had expanded into Izusu and Nissan HD delivery trucks and my Dad was the manager. Luckily I was driving myself by then, but those plaid pattern seats and boxy Datsuns do take me back.

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