By on January 16, 2018

Image: 1983 Datsun-Nissan 710 King CabRecently, 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.

Image: 1983 Datsun-Nissan 710 King CabDatsun’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.

Image: 1983 Datsun-Nissan 710 King CabThe 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.

Image: 1983 Datsun-Nissan 710 King CabOur 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.

Image: 1983 Datsun-Nissan 710 King CabWood tone across the dash sets the luxury expectation for any passengers.

Image: 1983 Datsun-Nissan 710 King CabAnd there might be a few passengers, as small rear jump seats look thoroughly comfortable for children aged six and under.

Image: 1983 Datsun-Nissan 710 King CabPower 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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78 Comments on “Rare Rides: A Preserved 1983 Nissan-Datsun 720 King Cab...”


  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Well, here’s my answer to the “what truck would you drive” question from the other day. This truck is simple, durable, useful and inexpensive. It’s about doing a job, not confirming your…ahem…girth to a world that could care less about it.

    Asking price is Looney Tunes, though.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      And how many others are out there in like condition?

      The price is not Looney Tunes in the slightest. The only negative to owning this truck is, having bought it, you’re not going to want to beat on it. This is definitely a car show queen.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        It’s not that special in CA. Price is crack pipe. Out of the millions sold out there during the Mini Truck invasion, it’s common to see many examples just like this (or nicer!) still driving around like it’s 1992. It’s still normal for (weird) CA to buy more Tacomas than F-150s in a given year.

        • 0 avatar
          phxmotor

          Because the Tacoma has more (higher) American Parts Content than Ford Pickups. What’s weird about wanting to buy an American made pickup??
          GM and Ram use less American parts content as well.
          You want American made? You consider buying American important? Then look closely at the content %.
          It’s not what most people think. Its not what most people believe deep in their hearts.
          I drive Ford Explorers. I drive Subaru Outback’s.
          More American then Ford GM or Ram pickups. BY FAR.
          It’s been this way for over 20 years. This is not something new.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            From the looks of it CA buys half of all Tacomas and hates F-150s. That’s weird. The Tacoma is mostly made in Mexico now, but all Tacoma pickup beds have always been made at the Tijuana plant, regardless of where the truck was finished. Now they build the whole truck down there. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

          • 0 avatar
            dukeisduke

            @DenverMike Not all Tacomas are made in made in Mexico – some are still being made in San Antonio (like my 2013). Here’s the current Toyota in Texas profile:

            https://www.toyota.com/usa/operations/map.html#!/TX

          • 0 avatar
            SaulTigh

            I believe you’re incorrect. An Edmunds article during the 2015 model year shows the F150 at 70% domestic content (tied with the Tundra, actually), and the Tacoma at 60%. A NY Daily News article says the 2017 F150 is up to 85% domestic parts content, and the Tacoma is down to 52%. I find the differences year to year interesting. Don’t know if it’s methodology or parts sourcing changes.

        • 0 avatar
          Syke

          Unfortunately, I’m in VA. Over here, those things are as rare as hen’s teeth, and somebody who really wanted one wouldn’t quibble the price for a moment.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Its also slow, noisy, cramped, uncomfortable, handles like a shopping cart, is horribly unsafe, has laughably low payload/towing ratings and rides like a block-wheeled-wagon while getting 17 mpg.

      But, other than all of that, its perfect.

      • 0 avatar

        I feel like you are having a case of the Mondays today.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        @John: Agreed. These are the survivors and Rare Rides that I most appreciate. The mass market vehicles used in fleets, as 2nd family cars, by small businesses that were purchased purely on a cost per mile basis and then largely scrapped. These are the vehicles that we may not have ‘lusted’ after but were the actual vehicles that we grew up in, learned how to drive in, had as our 1st cars and learned how keep on the road. Few if anyone thought to preserve them.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        @John:

        In other words, it’s a truck, acts like one, and doesn’t cost as much as a freakin’ Benz.

        Works for me.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        @John AXOD – Yes it’s a dangerous old classic, no different than anything of era or earlier. So should we crush everything pre 2011? I’d start with all remaining Tempo and Topaz death traps, then move on to Taurus SHOs!

        It’s no different classic Mustangs and such. You don’t want to be in them during a crash, even a minor one.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        I purchased a new “mid-sized” Ford Ranger in 1984. There is no way in hell that I’d want a 2018 version of that truck!

        To some: Time is amnesia!

      • 0 avatar
        Tinn-Can

        Word, my friend had one of these in high school and it was craptastic then…

    • 0 avatar
      phxmotor

      The price is not loony tunes. The dude is not trying to mass market 5,000 of them a month.
      He’s got one for sale. He’s looking for only one buyer. The price seems about right. Yes?

  • avatar
    StudeDude

    Corey—re: the Rampage—the 1978-83 Dodge Challenger was rear wheel drive and made by Mitsubishi. I think you meant derived from the Dodge Omni/Charger which was FWD.

  • avatar
    NeilM

    Looking at it I’d say that’s more a princeling cab than a king cab.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      Heh… it was built in an era when driving 10,000 miles a year was a lot, when people still walked daily, when a Big Mac was a lot to eat… and when car doors on compact cars and pickups were 1″ thick.

      I love the long wand gear shift. That’s part of the charm of this old truck. (I don’t think those shifters will ever make a comeback.)

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    Oh man oh man o’ man!

    I learned to drive on a 2WD version of this, 1984 model but with the same interior color, seats, and tacky plastic wood trim. It was my mom’s and was also used for hauling firewood around after my dad sold the ’69 straight-6 Chevy truck.

    Since my mom couldn’t drive stick, my dad ordered the Nissan with an automatic.

    Anyways – quite reliable, except it liked to spit out mufflers; the exhaust was always rusting out. The bed also was rusting in only a few years of Michigan ownership. The engine – carb and all – felt rather spritely for the era. In reality it was laughably slow, but just don’t tell my past 16yo that!

    I also spent a few hours sitting in the king cab part – mostly on my own, and it wasn’t that bad. Also, when I was driving, managed to fit in 6 teenagers in there at once! Of course it was a bit “friendly”.

    I got to drive this when I went to college, at least until some large repair bill came along and I ended up in a hand-me-down ’87 Nissan Stanza which felt like a Cadillac in comparison.

    I have a dream of finding another one of these trucks and putting a SR20DET into it. It will probably stay just a dream.

    • 0 avatar
      dividebytube

      At least I thought it was a carb – actually was injected? Throttle Body I assume.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      It wasn’t laughable slow – modern cars are stupidly and unnecessarily fast.

      • 0 avatar
        tomLU86

        That is the quote of day, lol!

        I just keep thinking, if we didn’t have these well-intentioned, but overly costly, safety regs, and more expensive fuel, we would drive brisk cars that got an honest 30 mpg.

        The air would be cleaner,and we’d have more oil left in the ground, without losing any time.

        As for ‘safety’, whatever ‘lives saved’ or ‘injuries prevented’ in the new cars (I don’t dispute there may be some), what about the offset in health issue brought about by increased pollution?

        Not to mention death due to our incessant involvment in the middle east.

        Just my thoughts.

    • 0 avatar
      Guitar man

      It has a carburetter. The air filter lid comes from a Cavalier.

      The engine is the twin spark L series, a real slug of an engine. Its nothing like the Alfa twin spark, it has them to meet emission regs.

      These things were incredibly tinny.

  • avatar
    tonyola

    Another change for 1983 – the taillights were moved from under the tailgate to the rear body corners.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    Nice truck, I remember when they were everywhere. The road salt up here killed ‘em in a hurry though.

    • 0 avatar
      MoparRocker74

      In west TN where I grew up, road salt was a small factor. The fact that the only ‘wheeling’ was going mudding is what killed these since packing years of gooey muck into pockets of sketchy sheet metal then adding in the humidity is ringing a dinner bell for the tinworms.

      • 0 avatar
        Sub-600

        Mud, huh? Interesting. I’m in Syracuse, NY, we use so much road salt you can taste it sometimes when you go outside. As you approach the city from the suburbs it looks like the buildings are in fog or low clouds…it’s road salt, you can see it. Cars take it better than they used to. When I was a teenager in the ‘70s, Japanese cars and trucks were just starting to catch on, they ran like a top but they didn’t consider rust at all. Two or three year-old Hondas and Datsuns would start showing rust, sometimes perforated, lol.

        • 0 avatar
          geozinger

          I grew up near Youngstown, Ohio. Same deal with the salt and we’re 60 miles from Lake Erie. If we were closer to the snowbelt it would have made more sense. Maybe the mafia got a commission on road salt or something…

          IMO there was a pecking order of cars that would rust. GM cars (with the exception of Vegas) were the best, then Ford, VW and Chrysler. Sadly, AMC the Italians, the French and Japanese cars were considered three year replace-ables. In three years or less, you pretty much could plan on having to get a new car as there would be HOLES (not perforations) in the panels.

          Honestly, looking back, we have no idea how good we have it now. I have a nine year old car in the driveway with 126K miles on it, only a few nicks in the paint and surface rust on the underbody…

          • 0 avatar
            Sub-600

            I agree.

          • 0 avatar
            mikeg216

            Ya know.. You could literally hear an amc rusting in the winter. But yet one of the last vehicles designed by them.. The jeep grand cherokee.. Is by far one of the most rust resistant vehicles I’ve ever seen.. I have a few.. Close to or over twenty years old.. And the factory rustproofing is 100% intact.. Up here east of cleveland we get about ten feet of snow a year and six months of rock salt.. But the old jeeps keep going.. The Mercedes ones? Almost all of them are gone

          • 0 avatar
            geozinger

            @mikeg: By the end of AMC (1980+?) they started to build pretty rust resistant cars. They needed to do that about 10 years earlier though.

            My brother had a 1984 AMC Eagle that he ran for 17 years in Northwest Pennsylvania. He finally gave up on the car because the engine gave out after 250K miles. The car had some perforation, but no major surgery required to make it through PA Inspection.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          My folks bought one of the “new” 1980 Subarus in 1979. It needed the sills welded by age 3, and was junked due to rust at age 7. That was typical for Japanese cars in Maine in those days.

          These pickups just flat out dissolved. I literally have not seen an ’80s Japanese pickup in Maine in probably 20 years.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    That rig is is beautiful shape…that’s the way you expect to find a similar vintage Ferrari or such. I wonder if there’s a museum for Nissan USA produced vehicles?

    • 0 avatar
      jdavlaw

      There actually is. “Lane auto museum” in Nashville, TN. The Smyrna, TN. Nissan factory is about 30 miles South of Nashville. Anyhow, Nissan helped build an addition onto Lane museum, and they have a whole bunch of Nissans stored in the basement, including the “Nissan Job 1” truck, the actual 1st truck produced at the Smyrna factory.

      Source = me, I live near Smyrna, and they gave me a private tour of the Nissans in the basement after they saw and admired my 1984 Datsun 4×4. I have an imgur album linked below in one of my comments.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    Wow, that’s a time capsule.

    In addition to all of the other faults these trucks had (shared by all of the little Japanese trucks) was a single wall pickup bed.

    Like someone else further up the string posted, a show queen.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    That’s a beautiful example.

  • avatar
    Willyam

    All the negatives are true. Still…I learned to drive in one, rode with my first girlfriend in back under a shell (complete with jumping fish window decals) while dad drove, and realized while trying to take it to school just how unstable it was past 56 mph (on purpose Datsun?). I most definitely could drive 55.

    My first car was built the same year, but was the complete opposite of this truck (domestic malaise screaming chicken). Still, something took hold. I’ve owned three Hardbody trucks since. They lost the magic during the Frontier years. Whatever dishwasher parts that truck ended up as, I hope it knows I’ll never forget guiding it around parking lots my very first time behind a wheel.

    Would I pay this much? Nah. As has been said, it has a lot of faults, and it wouldn’t be the one I first drove.

  • avatar
    MoparRocker74

    Well damn! Even when I was in HS in the very early 90’s, this generation of Datsuns were pretty well rusted out and beat to shit…this of course was in West TN. Even though my top pick was a Jeep CJ, I had a list of workable alternatives including some 4×4 minitrucks. If this truck were a single cab then it would have been my ideal variant of this rig. Total time capsule!

  • avatar
    Heino

    Had a friend who had one in the early 90’s and it had an electronically controlled carburetor(?) and occasionally would red line on its own, he would have to shut it off on the highway while still driving and restart to reset it. Finally gave it up when the frame cracked at 227,000 miles (upstate NY salt).

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    By the wild “4X4” stripe packages, you’d think 4wd was a big deal in the ’80s. Actually it was for mini trucks. Until the very late ’70s, there were no 4wd mini trucks, unless I’m forgetting one. I remember an aftermarket “Sasquatch” mid ’70s Ford Courier, and one of those might actually be valuable today.

    • 0 avatar
      Proud2BUnion

      In the early 80’s I owned a 1979 Luv 4×4 Mikado Edition, yellow with the screaming 4×4 hood & and bedside decals. 3 inch body lift. Rancho 2 inch lift torsion bars, and 1 1/2 inch add-a-leaf in the rear. With the over sized, stolen Desert Duelers the truck was a blast off-road!

  • avatar
    seabasstin

    This week I decided to configure a “medium” sized truck on the site of all Automakers who apparently offer them…
    The results made me so angry I wanted to grab the heads of the execs at these companies and bang them together in anger and frustration.
    The cheapest truck I could get was around $30,000 and this is while compromising what I wanted in EVERY SINGLE METRIC.

    So seeing this little truck reminds me of what it was that I was looking for… What it was that represented all that is a good truck vs the useless junk currently being forced down our troats.

    This truck is everything a simple work truck should be, it could of course be made to be safer, but this should not be at the detriment of it’s weight, simplicity, and practicality.

    yesterday when I was trying to find a truck that met my expectations, NOTHING and I mean NOTHING could even meet the most basic expectation that all of us should have from a modern car, aka 2x higher MPG then a 10 year old model, 4x higher mpg then a 20y old model.

    Instead all of the trucks had ridiculous MPG ratings 20/18<24/19 what??? seriously?
    for example:
    1994 Toyota Truck =22/27MPG vs Toyota Tacoma 2018 =20/23MPG.
    1994 Chevy s10 = 23/28MPG vs Chevy Colorado 2018 = 22/30MPG

    Further the 4cylinders configurations didn't even matter as they do not IMPROVE MPG one bit.

    Other basic truck features, were also completely absent.
    #1 being completely bare bones no frills I can use a hose to wash out interiors = NO, nada, zip, instead a bunch of completely useless features for dirty/bloody/working people. (I mean when I just gutted a pig and need to bring it to hang, WHY WOULD I NEED TO TOUCH A TOUCH SCREEN!!!)

    #2 NONE OF THE TRUCKS could be had with Manual configurations + 4 cylinders (again this would matter if 4 cylinders actually meant more mpg).

    #3 NONE of the trucks could be had with 4cylinders + 4×4.
    Why would Anyone who has actually used a real 4×4 want a HEAVIER TRUCK FOR mud or sand? except clear city poser dumbasses?

    When you actually compare the sizes of current "medium" trucks to that of one of the FULL size POS that all automakers currently offer, it becomes clear that these are only "MEDIUM" in relationship to those totally useless monstrosities. a current Tacoma weighs MORE then a 1994 FULL sized truck:

    1994 Chevy silverado = 3,755 lbs
    1994 Ford F150 = 3980 lbs
    1994 Dodge Ram 1500 = 4050 lbs

    2018 toyota tacoma =4,480 lbs
    2018 Chevy Colorado= 4,758 lbs

    How has it even come to this?
    Why did automakers decide that people needed LARGER, less gas efficient efficient, materially wasteful, harder to park, useless in a real city, less considerate of the specific use case, giant waste of money?

    What happened to form follows function and design for the actual need?

    I was so depressed I was considering making a car blog of my own just to bash what has become a clear reflection of the US auto industries continuing intellectual/engineering/material decline. It is increasingly clear that it needs to follow the steps of the Australian car makers (disappear quickly and invisibly.)

    I actively look forward to Chinese electric trucks and vans taking over the market as US car makers just as they were overcome in the 70s by Japanese car makers.
    This time they need to really be swept aside by makers that are actually responsive to the needs of the customers as opposed to some inflated sense of Americaness, which is really an effort to cover their lack of imagination, engineering ability and the real work of learning and understanding the real needs of their user through design research.

    If there is one thing Chinese manufacturing is good at it is reacting to the market, based on user needs, and this will definitely give them an edge in the future of the car world.
    FORD/GM/Chrystler will be bought and taken apart, then disappeared (as commodore and holden) and Toyota/Honda/Nissan/Mazda (who have relied on the bad advice of Ex big 3 car execs ) will just follow in the steps of Isuzu/Mitsubishi/Daihatsu and slowly fade into the ether if they do not leave behind the idea that the detroit 3 have a real idea of what they are doing and start to really make products that are proactive in understanding user needs as opposed to reactive.

    This is probably not the forum for this missive, but man, I had to say it… thanks for your patience…

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      It’s frustrating that so many consumer products are, from certain perspectives, getting worse as technology improves. But who can you blame? Manufacturers are just trying to turn a profit, and us luddites aren’t a big market.

      I console myself by looking at the vehicle collections of my buddies. Even when there is no longer a single new vehicle that interests me, it will be quite awhile before good, well-maintained used vehicles no longer exist. But the clock is ticking. The unhindered interaction between man and machine that I enjoy is being steadily replaced by the process of requesting that a computer allow you to operate the machine to your liking.

      There must be something out there you’d be happy with, even if it uses a bit more fuel than you’d like. I think I’d be happy enough with my buddy’s ’08 Frontier with manual transmission and transfer case.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Trouble is, there are only 10 people in the country who actually want what you want, and they all buy used trucks anyway.

      I feel you though – I would love to be able to buy another manual transmission RWD 3-series station wagon, but I’m not holding my breath on that one either. BMW sold less than 50 of them a year 2006-2012. In the entire US. So I can’t really blame them.

    • 0 avatar
      mikeg216

      But yet trucks have never been more popular and more reliable in every way shape and form.. You could put this in the bed of a modern pickup and drive down the road getting better mpg than this tin can could ever hope to. That’s what I call progress.. There’s single cab short beds of you want.. Hope you don’t mind white

    • 0 avatar
      turf3

      Hear, Hear!

      I sure wish I could buy an updated version of this with air bags and electronic fuel injection.

      But the areas where marketeers have taken over product design and destroyed useful products in favor of trendy BS are rapidly disappearing – pickup trucks went away 20 years ago, to be replaced by Male Enhancement Vehicles.

      And to all of you who respond that high sales of “trucks” prove that the automakers’ decisions were the right ones, I answer that their decisions may have been the right decisions for them, so as to maximize profit, but they were not the right decisions for me.

      To all of you who say “hardly anyone wants to buy what you want to buy” I can only say that I wish choices were actually available. You might be surprised how many people would be interested in a small light plain vehicle with a minimum of claptrap gewgaws for a reasonable price.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    The 720 was not as new as the article alludes to in relation to it’s Bluebird based predesessors. The chassis and suspension was interchangable.

    The Z series was a direct offshoot of the L Series and many components are interchangable, even the oil pump and distributor.

    The body was the biggest difference.

    Its a pity the chicken tax was strengthened. One would see a different pickup mix in the US now.

    To me the only good from the chicken tax was the American designed D20 the 720’s successor.

    The chicken tax had a lot to do with the influence on ever larger globals.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      @BAFO – The chicken tax has had zero changes since this truck was new. Only the BRAT and Transit Connect had their specific loopholes closed on them. The market just shifted away from mini trucks. They were a hot trend like so many others in the era. Also mini trucks became exempt from the gas guzzler tax by the early ’90s and guess what happened next?

      Yep they grew in size, V6s became the norm, plus they could carry actual adult people in the 2nd row seats (wow crew cabs!) in combination with up to 6 ft beds.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        Um, DiM,
        You obviously don’t read comments prior to responding.

        Where did I mention the chicken tax prior to …. or during the time of the 720?

        The 720 was the last of the Japanese Datsun/Nissan trucks.

        The chicken tax was amended to include the cab chassis trucks imported into the US, hence the slightly larger D20. This forced the Japanese to set up shop in the US, thus within a few years the price of a Japanese pickup rose 25%.

        Odd that.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          @BAFO – Nope the cab/chassis loophole ended in late ’70s, long before the Mini Truck Craze took off like wildfire. And “import” mini trucks still severely undercut the price of Ford/GM mini trucks deep into the ’80s, and when prices finally caught up, it signaled the end of the Mini Truck Era. Coincidence? Perhaps.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            1980-81 the loophole was closed after the 720 was released.

            DiM your constant failure to iclude ALL relevant info seems to distort your beliefs.

            Like my original comment in this thread highlighted you are either soft up top or you deliberately attempt to misinform.

            Which one is it? Are you dumb or a liar?

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            1980-81 the loophole was closed after the 720 was released.

            DiM your constant failure to iclude ALL relevant info seems to distort your beliefs.

            Like my original comment in this thread highlighted you are either soft up top or you deliberately attempt to misinform.

            Which one is it? Are you dumb or a liar?

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            December 31, 1979 the cab/chassis loophole closed. As an “expert” on the topic, you should know this. The Mini Truck Craze exploded (early ’80s) precisely because “import” pickups were so extremely cheap, cheaper than even subcompact cars of the era, making them virtually irresistible, and remember Japanese import cars had extremely tight “import quotas”, so they had forced “options” and unpresidented gouging at the dealer level.

            Import pickups had no such “restrictions”, zero, so Japanese automakers wisely opened up the floodgates on these, base stripper trucks especially. Yes it created an artificial wild buying frenzy, on the (Liberal) west coast mostly. Domestic small pickup makers couldn’t compete with the prices of import pickups.

            When prices equalized, sales equalized. Why is this so hard for you to comprehend? So lots of import pickup makers dropped out of the market at that point, with the Mitsubishi lasting to ’96 and never built in the US.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            DiM,
            First the US government forced Japanese car manufacturers to halve imports into the US, thus forcing Japanese manufacturers to set up shop in the US.

            There was no dumping. The US couldn’t produce cars of Japanese quality.

            Second, the 720 was already on sale prior to the cab chassis change to the chicken tax, thus forcing Japanese pickup trucks to be manufactured in the US.

            Oh, you are again using your deflection technique by dragging the terrible UAW Big Three initiated Japanese car import issue into the discussion. Stick to my original comment and don’t create a divergence in the argument.

            My overall response is simple. If the chicken tax is ineffectual in the US pickup market why does it exist?

            Simple.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            First, there wasn’t any urgency to build Japanese pickups in the US, Mitsubishi never did and that’s over a million import trucks including the Dodge D50. It took Toyota and Nissan until the mid ’80s to build pickups in the US, but you’re trying sidestep the issue asking why the Chicken tax still exists today. The tax has gotta hurt Detroit Big 3 automakers the most, with Toyota and Nissan obviously benefiting from the Chicken tax the most.

            The brands that dropped out of the US pickup market did so due to falling sales, and cars is what they really wanted to sell in the US, so once the import limits/quotas were gone, there was no need to keep selling pickups in the US in a dying (comparatively) segment. No limit pickups were just a temporary stopgap for them anyway, with the Chicken tax having zero net effect.

            Bottom line the Chicken tax did absolutely nothing to slow the massive Mini Truck Craze from slamming the US. If it’s any kind of deterrent for Chinese or Indian pickups today, we’re talking weak products in low demand. Their biggest fear would be US consumer protection acts, something called Lemon Laws that would absolutely kill their bottom line, unlike places like Australia and Africa that offer zero protection to consumers from sh!tty autos.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    It’s nice, but it could use a new carpet set, and the upholstery needs cleaning. Also, the steering column cover needs some attention (parts are loose). And maybe paint the inside of the bed.

  • avatar
    JustPassinThru

    The 720 is significant, but more for the era in Nissan’s history and coming takeover, than for itself. The truck, bland and nondescript compared to the trend-setting PL620 it replaced…marked the slow-walk to oblivion Nissan experienced as the financiers and accountants took over the company.

    The earlier PL620 offered everything Datsun was coming to be known for – with shortcomings, of course. The sheet-metal depth was inadaquate and rust was an immediate concern, even in dry states. But the steering was light; the gearbox precision, fuel-economy good and the engine a singer.

    The Hardbody, later the “truck” (known to mechanics as model number D50) was more rugged in build but was a ponderous, slow, cramped conveyance. It inspired nothing – and it’s telling of how far Nissan lost its way, that they stuck with that model for 13 years, losing their edge to Toyota.

    Price is truly crackpipe. The truck is sharp; but it’s not a daily driver; nor is it an interesting show vehicle. Parts are probably unobtanium – those models are few and far between, anymore.

  • avatar
    KOKing

    Ah, the 720. My parents bought a white 2wd KC 5sp in midline trim new in ’82, and was trouble-free till my brother smacked it into the side of a mountain around ’93. Spent many formative miles in those sideways-facing jump seats. My only driving complaint was the giant ratio gap between 2 and 3, dropping well out of what powerband there was compared to our similarly-engined 4sp 81 510.

    I own a ’71 521 now, and despite obvious mechanical links, (I have 720 4×4 rear leafs on it, natch) the two are worlds apart; credit to those in the ’70s who quickly recognized the fast-changing mini truck marketplace of the time.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      KO,
      I’ve owned a couple 520s, 620s and a 720.

      They were all different in their own ways. The body shapes and bling was the biggest real difference.

      The Z24 compared to a L18/L20 to a J15 made differences in driving. But the guts remained the same.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      KO,
      I’ve owned a couple 520s, 620s and a 720.

      They were all different in their own ways. The body shapes and bling was the biggest real difference.

      The Z24 compared to a L18/L20 to a J15 made differences in driving. But the guts remained the same.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    This thing is a “little blue pill” for some of our readers.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    According to NADA:

    Original MSRP Base Price $7,229

    Low Retail $1,325

    Average Retail $2,150

    High Retail $3,375

  • avatar
    rocketrodeo

    My 1985 720 lasted just into the 21st century, with 160K and a fair bit of rust, though very few perforations. Sixteen Pennsylvania and Ohio winters took their toll. But it was less than $7000 new, 80s-Japanese-reliable, and it did its job. It was the ideal second vehicle. The Ranger that finally replaced it is now 18 years old. It stickered for 18K, almost three times what the 720 cost. But it’s aging a lot more gracefully. No rust and zero on-road failures, although almost every suspension component has been replaced. Even on its original clutch. Most reliable vehicle I have ever owned. I honestly don’t know what I’ll replace it with, because this category of trucks appears to be dead.

  • avatar
    mikeg216

    Just one truck article without big AL.. Robert Ryan or whatever he calls himself please.. We get it.. The Mazda diesel pickup truck you own is the best thing in the world… And we’re all idiots

  • avatar
    jdavlaw

    My little 1984 Datsun 4×4 has aged nicely—imgur album here—-

    https://imgur.com/a/ikaf4

    Along with my 1983 Toyota 4×4 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

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      @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.

  • avatar
    jdavlaw

    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 4×4, 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.

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