Rare Rides: A Preserved 1983 Nissan-Datsun 720 King Cab

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides a preserved 1983 nissan datsun 720 king cab

Recently, Rare Rides honed in on the little Dodge Rampage. A front-drive alternative compact pickup, it was based on the sporty Dodge Charger. Today we have a look at a well-preserved example of what most buyers of compact pickups chose in the early 1980s. It’s a Nissan-Datsun 720 King Cab, from when all Datsuns were Nissans.

Datsun’s truck line started in 1934 with the Type 13, based on the Roadster compact coupe/cabriolet. The second- through fifth-generation (1955-1979) trucks were all based on the Bluebird sedan model in production at the time.

The 720 model debuted in 1980 for the US market. Regular and King Cab versions were offered with short and long beds, and featured two- or four-wheel drive. Initially marketed in the US as a Datsun, the 720 was first imported from the Nissan Shatai factory in Japan. By mid-1983 the truck was being produced domestically at the brand-new Nissan factory in Smyrna, Tennessee.

Production location wasn’t the only change in 1983. Introduction of the Nissan name began at this time. Accompanying the name change was a light visual refresh, including larger cornering lights, and a new bumper and grille. Also in ’83, a revised dash featured round gauges instead of square ones. The naming swap was complete by 1985; Datsun washed away for a new Nissan era. Five years remained for the 720 model, as a new Truck was on the horizon — one you might know as Hardbody.

Our rare-because-it’s-pristine 720 looks to be fairly well-equipped, in King Cab short bed guise. With my trained eye and a reference to the Wikipedia page for the 720, I can deduce this one is a mid-upper level DX trim. The dual-blue 4×4 tape stripe package looks just so right, and those white wheels are choice too.

Wood tone across the dash sets the luxury expectation for any passengers.

And there might be a few passengers, as small rear jump seats look thoroughly comfortable for children aged six and under.

Power goes through the five-speed manual, and is provided by the 2.4-liter inline-four engine. There is also electro-injection, which sounds illegal. The engine aspires to be a Z24 Chevy Cavalier. This lucky Nissan has avoided rust and traveled just over 100,000 miles over the past 35 years, and can be yours for $12,900.

[Images via seller]

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  • Jdavlaw Jdavlaw on Jan 17, 2018

    My little 1984 Datsun 4x4 has aged nicely---imgur album here---- https://imgur.com/a/ikaf4 Along with my 1983 Toyota 4x4 SR5---imgur album here---- https://imgur.com/a/wGXve EDIT: """Five years remained for the 720 model""" I don't really know what he is saying here. The 720 model lasted only from 1980-1986.5

    • JimC2 JimC2 on Jan 18, 2018

      @jdavlaw- good for you man. I don't think a 1984 Datsun pickup or an '83 Toyota will ever be a widely sought-after classic compared to something like a first generation Mustang, but that's entirely beside my point. There is something special about an old vehicle that is in such great shape. I'm sure there are small owners clubs for both trucks but clubs or not, I like vehicles that are not quite mainstream or off the beaten path a bit. I want you to know that I respect any gearhead who puts that kind of time and effort into any vintage car or truck, but especially vehicles like yours.

  • Jdavlaw Jdavlaw on Jan 17, 2018

    I used to have a "saved search" on Auto trader, notifying me whenever an Datsun from 80-86.5 was posted. I saw this truck for over a year from that search. It originated in the PNW, somewhere in Oregon I believe. A dealer listed it. This same dealer also had an 1984 Datsun 4x4, blue, they were virtual identical twins. Dealer wanted $9,000 for the 1983 and wanted $11,000 for the 1984. The trucks finally sold I guess, cause they no longer show up on auto trader. The 1983 pictured here has had the engine replaced. That "TBI/electro injection" did not come out until the 1986 year model. Just my 2 cents worth.

  • SCE to AUX A friend once struck a mounted tire that was laying flat in the middle of her lane on the PA Turnpike. She was in a low late-90s Grand Prix, and the impact destroyed the facia, core support, radiators, oil pan, transmission, subframe, and suspension. They fixed it all.
  • Dukeisduke Lol, it's not exactly a Chevrolet SS with Holden badging.
  • Dukeisduke Years ago, I was driving southbound along North Central Expressway (south of Mockingbird Lane, for locals), and watched a tire and wheel fall out of the bed of a pickup (no tailgate), bounce along, then centerpunch the front end of a Honda Accord. It wasn't pretty.
  • Dukeisduke If these were built in the US, they'd probably be plagued with recalls, like everything else Ford makes now. It's just as well they don't bring them here.I've owned one Ford, a '95 F-150 (drove it for 17 years and 214k miles) and it was fantastic. But you couldn't run fast enough to get me to buy another Ford. Quality used to be Job 1; now it's an afterthought.
  • Dukeisduke "side-to-side taillights""Across-the-border" is the phrase you're looking for - it's what Ford called the taillights on the '67-'68 and '70-'71 Thunderbirds.