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

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

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]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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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.

  • ToolGuy Friendly reminder of two indisputable facts: A) Winners buy new vehicles (only losers buy used), and B) New vehicle buyers are geniuses (their vehicle choices prove it):
  • Groza George Stellantis live off the back of cheap V8 cars with old technology and suffers from lack of new product development. Now that regulations killed this market, they have to ditch the outdated overhead.They are not ready to face the tsunami of cheap Chinese EVs or ready to even go hybrid and will be left in the dust. I expect most of their US offerings to be made in Mexico in the future for good tariff protection and lower costs of labor instead of overpriced and inflexible union labor.
  • MaintenanceCosts This is delaying an oil change for my Highlander by a couple of weeks, as it prevented me from getting an appointment before a business trip out of town. Oh well, much worse things have happened.I also just got a dealership oil change for my BMW (thanks, loss-leader prepaid plans!) and this didn't seem to affect them at all.
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X Gonna need more EV fuel.
  • Lou_BC There's a company in BC that has kits for logging trucks and pickups. They have "turn key" logging trucks too. What they market is similar to what Ram wants to sell. The rig runs on batteries and a generator kicks in when depleted. On the West Coast logging in the mountains they found that the trucks run mostly on regen braking. The generator doesn't kick in much. Going up mountain, the truck is empty.