By on December 13, 2019

Buy/Drive/Burn doesn’t talk trucks very often, but today’s an exception. Today’s trio are from the very inception of Japanese compact truck offerings in North America. They mostly rusted away long ago, but perhaps you remember them fondly.

Right now, it’s 1972. Let’s go.

Mazda B1600

Mazda’s B-series truck (sometimes called Proceed) was in its second generation for the long span between 1965 and 1977. It greeted U.S. customers for the first time in 1972, when the B1600 joined a handful of small passenger cars at Mazda dealers. Equipped for its first year with a 1.6-liter inline-four, the B1600 made 95 horsepower. In 1974 Mazda confused Americans by adding the Rotary Pickup to its range, a move which made no sense then or today. The B1600 was succeeded by the larger engine of the B1800 for 1975 in the United States. Mazda offered Canadians the B1800 starting in 1970.

Toyota Hilux

In 1972, Toyota was still selling the first-generation Hilux in North America. Those first Hiluxes were developed and manufactured by Hino. Entering production in spring of 1968, the model was introduced to America for 1969. Bed sizes were limited to the short-wheelbase version for the first few years, with the long-wheelbase added for ’72. Engines gradually increased in power as Toyota realized what American consumers wanted. The initial 1.9-liter four was replaced in 1970 by a 1.9L with overhead cams. For 1972 this engine was swapped for the 2.0-liter 18R, which made 109 horsepower. 1973 brought the second generation Hilux, which was immediately redesigned in 1975 to be larger and more like what Americans desired. Then it changed its name to Truck.

Datsun 521

Datsun beat Toyota and Mazda to market with a compact truck, marketing its 520 in America in 1968. The original 520 entered production in 1965 for the ’66 model year before being upgraded to the 521 in 1969. The revised version had a flattened hood, fenders, and a new grille. Fender emblems indicated the engine size, ultimately resulting in the Datsun 1600 for 1971 and 1972. It carried a 1.6-liter inline-four of 96 horsepower. 521 was replaced for the 1973 model year by the 620.

Three pickups with little power and little rust resistance. Which one was worth a Buy in 1972?

[Images: Toyota, Nissan Heritage Collection, Mazda]

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78 Comments on “Buy/Drive/Burn: Japanese Trucks From 1972...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Corey, most of us have no point of reference on something this obscure (inc me). Not to mention Datsun was supposedly pretty good (vs its successor Nissan which really is not) but how would we know if Datsun > Mazda of the period?

    That being said and really knowing nothing:

    Buy: Toyota
    Drive: Datsun
    Burn: Mazda because of the rotary

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Burn any of these? Hell no! I know the Toyota and the Datsun are stupid bulletproof and reliable, and I’ll bet the Mazda is, too.

    I was twelve that year, and while I remember seeing tons of the Toyotas and Datsuns, I’ve never seen one of the Mazdas. I’ve seen enough of the Rotary Engine pickups over the years, but none of the piston engined ones.

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      This. ^

      These are little gems.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        A guy I knew in my Squadron way back in 1972 had one of those little Toyota trucks, except his was Yellow.

        So in 1980 when we came back from Germany, he still had that little truck. No big deal right?

        Well, he finally retired that little truck in 2016 and replaced it with…………. (wait for it)…….. a 2016 Tacoma, 4dr 4wd LB automatic V6 TRD.

        He told me the only reason he replaced that little old truck was because the law was coming after him about that cloud of blue smoke that was always coming out of and following his little truck.

        And the stench of oil on the exhaust manifold was nasty – made the gate-guards cough and choke each time he entered the air force base.

        He said even 20W-50 or 30HD motor oil could not make the blue cloud go away.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      ^^This +2, Burn? No way, love these little trucks and their little SUV counterparts

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      “I know the Toyota and the Datsun are stupid bulletproof and reliable, and I’ll bet the Mazda is, too.”

      bulletproof until the first winter, then they look bullet-ridden.

    • 0 avatar
      eng_alvarado90

      I guess you saw some 1st gen Ford Couriers; those were 2nd gen Mazda B series and actually sold well. I can tell they are tough, one of my dad’s co workers had one all the way up to 2001.

  • avatar
    Dan

    1972? Burn you for not buying American.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      The UAW was making its bed in 1972. They struck against GM for half the year and you didn’t want anything they touched when they weren’t in a mood to work anyway.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        My first hand experience doesn’t go that far back, but as far back as it does go your story checks out.

        But there wasn’t one American car in 1972 that wasn’t a work of art, at least from 15 feet away. And the people who bombed Pearl Harbor, marched Bataan, and raped Singapore were still alive and making these mini trucks.

        • 0 avatar
          Lokki

          This is the problem with History Classes that zoom through eras from 10,000 feet of altitude…. things get blurry and some things go unnoticed completely. You’ve blurred 25 years together…..

          First – the largest selling import car in 1972 was from our WWII enemies, the Germans. Japanese vehicles will still a matter of indifference for 90% of the country. Next your ‘thing of beauty’ remark ignores the infamous Chevy Vega, Nearly 2 million were sold but you will probably never see one. Even before the famous “forgot to rustproof it” disaster became apparent, Car and Driver said this,

          “ Never mind all the talk about the marvelous technology involved in the liner-less aluminum block: From a noise and vibration standpoint, the Vega’s Four is unfit for passenger car use.”

          And John DeLorean who was Head of Chevrolet said, “ The first prototype tested by Chevy engineers fell apart after only eight miles at a GM test track. The front end of the car separated from the rest of the vehicle. It must have set a record for the shortest time taken for a new car to fall apart.” Engineers had to add 20 pounds in understructure to remedy the problem.

          The Vega’s U.S. competitor was the Ford Pinto. In those days Quality was not “Job # 1” at Ford… C&D reported ,

          In fact, the [Pinto] went to several dealers [to try to get the engine to run decently] and all of their efforts were for naught. Finally, we interested Ford Engineering in the case and it was discovered that the camshaft had been installed incorrectly—about 10° out of phase. “ This was before they became famous as fiery death traps.

          Here’s the review I’m quoting from if you’re interested.

          https://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/comparison-test/a15125566/chevrolet-vega-vs-ford-pinto-archived-comparison/

          So Americans were very ready to consider low cost foreign vehicles, and these pickups were -very – cheap. My sister’s boyfriend drove a little Datsun truck and it was amazing until it disappeared in a cloud of iron oxide. Still, he liked it enough that he bought a second one.

          • 0 avatar
            conundrum

            My mother bought a ’71 Pinto in late fall 1970. I was overseas studying, and when I got back in fall ’71 the car was a year old. I found her 2.0l engine useless. C/D had a tech article on the incorrectly installed overhead cam belt which I read, and yes indeed, my mother’s belt was off. You could line up holes in the top pulley with holes in the cam drive shroud per that C/D article, all in a line, and if they didn’t, that was the proof the belt had been incorrectly installed. The dealer harumphed in diasbelief, but examined it, and sure enough, it was wrong and was reset. Night and day difference. Those engines were knocked together by Ford of Germany.

            Thanks for the memories! Three years later the rust was so bad, the local bodyman opined: “Son, she’s got cancer up to the waterline.” So dear mother bought a ’74 Vega. Arrrgh!

            And then we get opinions that Detroit cars were works of art in the early 1970s, from someone who wasn’t there! Well, thanks for looking at the pretty pictures online and offering the opinion. Too bad about the rest of the vehicle.

            Buy Toyota, drive Mazda, and burn Datsun, only because they rusted quicker.

          • 0 avatar
            cprescott

            Chevrolet also had its 1970 Camaro split in two while testing and a similar situation happened to the Chrysler Full-sized late 1970’s barges that had front ends pulling away from the cowl.

        • 0 avatar
          snakebit

          As long as we have a TTAC commentator who was very unlikely to have been forced-marched at Bataan or been ducking Japanese ordinance at Pearl Harbor, let’s also remind ourselves of the thousands of American citizens of Japanese heritage who were rounded up, uprooted from their American homes, and herded at internment camps in our free country. You can stop fighting a war that is over and that you never participated in or likely was born before. As for the rust situation with Datsun, Toyota, Isuzu/Chevy LUV, Mazda/ Ford Courier, and the like, American-made vehicles weren’t so impervious to corrosion, either, if you used them in the snowbelt. I remember many Chevy dealers stocking the outer rocker panels of the 1967-1972 C10’s because so many needed replacement in areas that treated their roads with sand, salt, and brine spraying.
          Temper that with living in the high desert and having a neighbor driving a faded 1970 C10 with his original rocker panels intact, or the sight of several 30-40 year old Japanese pickups on our local highways still rustfree and serving well as daily drivers. Oh and, Japan now is one of our strongest allies in the world. Let’s not tamper with that just to keep hard feelings still boiling over on a war that’s been over for over 70 years.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Haven’t you heard? Since January 2017, we trash our strongest allies in public so that we can cozy up to our worst enemies.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            The difference between your side and mine dal, is that the UK isn’t my worst enemy and China isn’t my biggest ally.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Trump on democratically selected PM Theresa May (while she was in office), who bent over backwards to treat Trump well: “I am feeling that [the UK] is in need of leadership.”

            Trump on dictator Xi Jinping, who has nothing but contempt for Trump and has repeatedly displayed it: “friend”; “king”; “I’m standing with President Xi.”

    • 0 avatar
      R Henry

      @Dan

      Was the Chevy Luv (a rebadged Isuzu from Japan), also available in 1972, “American?”

      Is a Toyota Tundra, assembled in Texas, with an engine forged in Indiana American? What about a Jeep Renegade…made in….Italy?

      How about the Crown Vic or Lincoln TownCar, those most American cop cars, taxis, and limos…that are made in….Canada!

      Ford Fusion…from Hermosillo, Mexico?

      How about that little Buick and the little Ford cuvs…both built in China?

      Did you know Harley-Davidsons, the most American brand ever…is loaded with off-shore electronics?

      Truly, in this global economy, the “buy American” concept is obsolete.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        This global economy isn’t 1972.

        • 0 avatar
          R Henry

          The Chevy Luv and Ford Courier beg to differ.

          • 0 avatar
            -Nate

            Oh Jeeze Dan ;

            Most of my WWII and Korean war buddies all bought and loved Japanese vehicles ~ who made the TV set you watched in 1972 ? Sony I bet .

            Grow up .

            I just bought a 2001 Ford Ranger XL fleet pickup with 2.5 engine, was any of it made in America ? (serious question).

            -Nate

          • 0 avatar
            jack4x

            @Nate,

            Yes, that Ranger was built at a now closed Ford plant in St. Paul, MN. I have fond memories of touring the place as a kid.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          “This global economy isn’t 1972.”

          Now there is a rugged statement.

          But honestly, I don’t know if you are trolling us, or if you have already decided if this global economy is good for the US of A, Mexico and Canada.

          Because from my perspective I believe that for decades AFTER the end of WWII the US functioned like a trade-sponge, sucking up everything that the rest of the world produced, often at a huge trade disadvantage to the US and its exports. Not to mention the US taxpayers.

          And that included these little trucks and bugs.

          So for me, whatever President Trump sets his mind to, re rectifying trade imbalances, is great!

          Yeah, and if he was wants to slap tariffs and value-added taxes on European-made cars and exports, that’s even better.

          Time for payback to right the wrongs committed against us by our trading partners for more than 74 years.

          • 0 avatar
            quaquaqua

            The start of the American auto industry becoming woefully uncompetitive was when the Beetle started selling like mad, yet no one really seemed to care. It was like Ford, GM, Chrysler, and AMC only noticed each other building crappy cars, so the upper management thought, why make our own any better? It was their own arrogance and unwillingness to innovate that got people to start looking at import models. But of course, can’t go a day on this site without the same few posters consistently blaming the people who assembled these increasingly uncompetitive cars. As if they had any say in the quality of the design or the parts. But that’s how it goes in this country. Hate your neighbor for being the greedy GM employee, not the executives.

          • 0 avatar
            -Nate

            Thanx Jack ! .

            As I was cleaning the windows I noticed a faded UAW decal on the back window that said the Twin Cities plant or something .

            Good to know .

            ? Is there a thread about these Rangers I should go look at ? .

            Or maybe TTAC wants to begin a new thread about Nate’s E-Bay foolishness, buying an 18 year old truck on impulse without looking at it in person first….

            I need lots of info on maintenance and parts, etc., etc.

            Please provide a link if there’s a previous article .

            TIA,

            -Nate

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            @desertcat: your memory is incorrect. After WWII the other industrialized nations were devastated. They were dependent upon American exports. The USA not only exported much of what they needed, American companies bought up their companies and/or infrastructure.

            The American government and American corporations were the impetus behind ‘free trade’ and trade agreements because they believed that they would benefit the most from them. And the governments of other nations agreed to this because they were dependent on the USA for goods, loans or defense against the Soviet Union.

            As an example for decades Ford dominated the car and van market in the UK. Japan was rebuilt using an economic blueprint created by American academics and business leaders.

            These other nations were only able to create trade barriers either with the acceptance of the American government or when they felt strong/independent enough to stand up to American economic pressure. For western Europe circa the early 1960’s.

            American auto manufacturers didn’t worry overtly about imports because they did not believe that imports threatened them. The Beetle sold relatively well because it was cheap and reliable. Otherwise it was not a good car. The domestic manufacturers did not believe that the American public would purchase many small, tinny Japanese vehicles. Check the percentage of total vehicle sales per year and you will see that this held relatively true, until the OPEC crisis.

            The USA and its manufacturers were largely responsible for creating this opening due to a)focusing so much regarding politics and spending on the War in Vietnam rather than other domestic issues and b)short-sighted mismanagement in the domestic vehicle manufacturing organizations.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Arthur Dailey, I understand that a new revisionist history is being taught in America these days, different than from when I went to Jr High and High School in CA 1959-1965, different than from when I went to College, and different than from when I went to University Graduate School; this revisionist history proclaims that George Washington was a negro, and Ebonics is the national American language.

            So why not a revisionist Post WWII Marshall Plan, I submit?

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            ” this revisionist history proclaims that George Washington was a negro, and Ebonics is the national American language.”

            Oh look, it’s Make S**t Up On The Internet Day.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            Nobody will ever accuse JimZhe of getting the point of something.

          • 0 avatar
            -Nate

            No one will ever accuse todd of being honest, fair mined, compassionate and anything but a corporate alt right shill .

            I notice you conveniently neglected to mention trump’s kissing putin and kim il jon’s boots….

            I guess for you they’re America’s allies……

            Talk about “revisionist history” .

            -Nate

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            Tell me about how you’re a frustrated conservative again Nate. That puts all of your own honesty in perspective.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    Melt them all down and you might have enough steel for one F250 Highboy, my actual pick for this year.

  • avatar
    RHD

    We’re reaching to decide what the differences are between the three. Facetiously, kudos to Datsun for attaching chrome tow hooks onto the front bumper.
    My ’78 Toyota is still running strong, so they definitely knew what they were doing. I have a friend who daily drove a ’73 until just a few years ago.
    At that time, all three were winners, especially with the price of fuel tripling in a very short period of time. They were inexpensive, dependable, economical and useful. Buy and drive any of them, but don’t burn ’em – none of them would have deserved to be disposed of.
    It really should be buy/drive/crush, because that’s what happens to junkers, and the smoke from the burning interior is nasty and toxic… and metal doesn’t burn.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    I love them all!

    The first vehicle I got to drive on a regular basis was my mom’s ’84 Nissan truck. Sure it was a deathtrap and could be bested in a drag race with just about any current car, but I learned a lot driving a RWD truck in some cruddy weather.

    Oh and those tie points on the outside of the bed? Super useful. Add in some clothesline and you could safely secure just about anything that would fit in the bed. I wish modern trucks had ’em, though I imagine they are rust points.

    • 0 avatar
      eng_alvarado90

      I owned a 1984 Nissan 720 4×4 until earlier this year. Since it lived all it’s life in CA it was rust free. I rebuilt the engine and transmission at 280K miles

  • avatar
    65corvair

    I’m 60 years old, so I was 13 in 1972. From what I can remember all the Japanese trucks rusted quickly and completely in a few years. Not 10 or 15 years but real holes on three of four. Didn’t mater how reliable they were, they went to the crusher at an early age.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    FWIW, Datsun began selling 50 HP pickups in 1959….. I remember them well, they were O.K., reliable if fairly delicate & rust prone.

    I really liked the Toyota HiLux, never was able to afford one tho’ .

    The Datsun 1300 & 1600 pickups were pretty darn good, I was amazed to see a red one with original paint drive by me Tuesday, not restored just a _very_ nice survivor .

    The Mazda / Ford Couriers, I remember friends buying them new in 1972, the Fords had a 1800 engine and Mazda a 1700, most parts interchanged, I drove a Courier as an auto parts delivery truck for a while, it was cramped but very sturdy and I thrashed that poor thing mercilessly .

    The City of Los Angeles bought a whole fleet of them with auto matic trannies, some were still in service in the late 1980’s .

    Fords courier had a white lettered decal in the back window saying ” FORD’S NEW 180CC IMPORT” .

    You had to be there to understand the rotary engine craze ~ not very good and very thirsty, for two or three years they flew off the lot so of course Mazda offered rotary pikups with ” ROTARY” stamped in the tail gate in large letters .

    All of these were fun to drive if you were young .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    The Mazda looks familiar to me primarily because Ford sold a ton of them as the Courier. I think the engines were 1.8 liters though.

    Missing is the Chevrolet LUV by Isuzu. They came out in 1972 too.

    I don’t know how any of these compared to one another. The LUV had the worst reputation, but who knows if Chevrolet dealers treated the buyers or trucks well. Toyota trucks are tough, but the Tacoma is the first one that had a comfortable driving position for me. This is one category where I don’t want to buy, drive or burn any of them. I’d love to borrow yours though, when I have a medium sized load to shift!

  • avatar
    fazur

    I registered to post today when I saw the ‘72 HiLux.

    I owned that exact truck!
    I bought it in 1988 from my friend’s aunt. She only used it to haul stuff to the farmers market. And it sat in her lean-to garage for years. It had 400 miles on it!

    The rocker panels were completely gone from rust. So the doors would practically fall off when opened. I put a new clutch slave cylinder on I it and gave her 250 bucks for it.

    It ran great and I used it as a daily driver for about a year. But the doors. It became impractical.

    I was so impressed with the ease of repair and maintenance that I decided to buy a new Toyota. I had been a staunch GM dude. I went to the Toyota dealer and looked at an 89 Tercel. Popped the hood and it basically had the same engine! So I picked up the Tercel. Which turned out to be a great little car.

    The sales manager was not interested in the HiLux, at all. But the salesman bought it from me for 500 bucks!

    It always reminded me of Gollum in the cartoon version of the hobbit. With it’s bulbous “eyes” on the hood.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Buy: Toyota-The most modern of the three even with the fender mounted turn signals. The 18R is a great motor. For some reason the water and public works department in the town where I grew up bought them and got good use out of them.

    Drive: Mazda-Ok fun drive.

    Burn: Datsun-It’s a bit dated compared to the others. The next generation which introduced the King cab were better.

    Honorable mention: the Isuzu built Chevrolet LUV. And they still had front drum brakes.

  • avatar
    brettc

    I wasn’t alive when any of these came out, but I do remember our neighbour’s ’86 B2000 and get sad that regulations don’t allow for something like that to be made now.

    Maybe the upcoming Hyundai Santa Cruz will be something close, although it will of course be much more luxurious since the B2000 was a tad underpowered, had no A/C and I think an AM/FM radio (no cassette deck).

  • avatar
    R Henry

    Mazda fan here, and drove a few of these back in the day, though with the Courier emblem attached. A very basic, bumpy mode of transport for sure. The accommodations inside are certainly scaled for small of stature Asians….my 6ft 225lb Caucasian frame is not a good match!

    To my eye, the Datsun looks best, and that is reflected in the fact that here in coastal SoCal where I live, they are a hot commodity for restomodding. I have not seen a TOY or MAZ minitruck of this vintage on the road in a number of years, while I have seen quite a few Datsuns–most in that very 1970’s orange paint if restored, or metallic red or purple of lowered and modded.

  • avatar
    BoogerROTN

    For this comparo, I would have dropped the rare Mazda and inserted the Chevy LUV (which is Japanese). I still see those around, always driven by old men getting every last cent out of them…well done, Isuzu!

  • avatar

    Would you all enjoy if we follow up with the Japanese trucks of 1982?

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      Sure by 1982 these small trucks were improved, less agricultural and easier to drive car like commuter vehicles. Also the first years of the Ranger and S-10 which replaced their “captive imports”.

    • 0 avatar
      StudeDude

      Excellent idea. By then Mitsubishi had entered the contest and was selling their truck through Dodge and Plymouth dealers.

    • 0 avatar
      How_Embarrassing_4You

      Sure, we could use some more replies packed full of butthurt Dems who are obviously having an especially hard time time right now dealing with another failed coup attempt and party members jumping like rats off a sinking ship.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Why do the Toyota and Datsun pictured here look like two-tones? In both cases, the driver’s door looks like it was repainted, and they didn’t match the color.

  • avatar
    Thomas Kreutzer

    Others have said it – these are old stone-axe simple trucks. All are wonderful.

    The Mazdas I knew, as the Ford Courier, were the ones everyone beat on. They stood up to it all, too. Saw Danny Trotter jump his over the railroad tracks back in ’84. Can’t beat that in my book.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Get the Mazda, hide it in a barn until the late 90s and drop the turbo rotary out of an RX-7 in one.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Buy: Toyota
    Drive: Datsun
    Burn: Mazda

    Digging the relatively low load floor and all those external tie-down points.

    Take a look at the 521 B-pillars and now visualize current roof crush standards… (((shivers)))

    If you have never seen this (Top Gear “How to Kill a Toyota”), you now have a reason to skip lunch (three parts, watch in order):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnWKz7Cthkk

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Uc4Ksz3nHM

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFnVZXQD5_k

    .

  • avatar
    PandaBear

    Rotary in a truck? Wow.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      RoPus were easy to spot, because they had a battery box cut in the side of the bed. I have no idea why. A Mazda 13B is smaller than some beers I drank in college, so there should have been plenty of room under the hood. Maybe the RoPu was actually developed for Japanese pickup autocross, where weight distribution mattered and low RPM torque didn’t.

      Even stranger about the RoPu is that I saw a bunch of them in service at a California park in 1979. I guess whoever was in fleet acquisitions thought park service trucks should guzzle gas and pollute like 2-strokes.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I would not burn any of these trucks but I would probably pick the Datsun pickup which was the No 1 seller of all these trucks and was just a great all around small truck. There were very few Mazda trucks with the rotary. I had an 85 Mitsubishi Mighty Max for 14 years and it for the most part was a great truck. I would still pick a new Frontier over most of the other midsize trucks because for the price it is hard to beat especially in the 4 cylinder 5 speed manual it is reliable and inexpensive. That might be the only new Nissan I would even consider buying. Tacomas are good trucks but they are way overpriced for what you get. Colorado/Canyon are good choices but I would wait on the Ranger they still need to sort out quality issues.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Lived in Texas most of the time so the rust problem was not an issue unless you saw one of these from a Northern State but in Texas the early Japanese cars and trucks would go for decades. Not unheard of for 70’s Datsun trucks to run well over 100k miles and many over 200k. I wasn’t into trucks at that time but these trucks were inexpensive and very reliable–the drivetrains were unkillable and with reasonable care would last and last.

  • avatar
    KOKing

    72 was a half-year for the Datsun; the (mechanically pretty identical initially) 620 was a mid-year introduction, and the 72 521s were 71s with a bung welded on for shoulder belts.

    I’ve had my 71 here in California for a few years, and it’s a fun little thing, and a popular piece at events (even out here where there are still plenty of em). Sharing the drivetrain with the 510 gives it some performance cred, though having chassis roots from the 320 of 62 (4 wheel drums, kingpin front end) it doesn’t exactly drive great. Having driven some Couriers while hunting, I think those drive better than the Datsun.

    The Hilux really came into its own in 73, and I don’t have any experience with the earlier ones, so:

    Buy: Datsun
    Drive: Mazda
    Burn Toyota

  • avatar
    thejohnnycanuck

    I just wish someone still offered a pickup the same size as those beauties from 1972.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I would happily buy and drive any one of these. Perfect for putting around town doing errands.

  • avatar
    namstrap

    Back in the early 70s, I worked in a Datsun dealership. We had a 521 tow truck, and when the 621 came out, that was our parts delivery truck.
    We also serviced a bunch of LUVs. I believe the GM dealers couldn’t or didn’t want to service them. It was easy for us, because Isuzu and Datsun used the same Hitachi electrical systems. Points, condensers, caps, all the same.
    On an unrelated note, we also serviced a couple of Opel GTs, you know, the ones that looked like mini Corvettes.
    There were also some Isuzu Bellets. I can’t remember who was selling them at the time.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    RE :

    ” Hate your neighbor for being the greedy GM employee, not the executives.”

    There’s a lot of truth in the often poor quality of assembly, well documented here, there and everywhere .

    The UAW could have done far better yes but the comment about hating your Union neighbor is a common 1%’er tactic to keep the Blue Collar work force divided and easier to control .

    Until Unions were well established there was no middle class in America, why they’ve been trying to destroy Unions ever since, fact not fiction .

    This doesn’t mean mary the butthole isn’t a bad person, she is and needs to go along with any other bad corporate people .

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      What you’re attributing to unions, I attribute to industrialization. Industrialization increased productivity and created the volume of goods necessary to elevate the standard of living of the common man. Unions hurt productivity. It’s practically in their mission statements.

      They’re also just as divisive of the populace as any fantasy about people who don’t like seeing Marxist thugs robbing people of their self-reliance. You can’t tell your people that they’re entitled to having all of their health care costs covered by their employers while spending the union dues on politicians who are taking your fellow American’s money and healthcare simultaneously without justifying it by saying that the rank and file need to hate the ‘others.’

      I don’t hate union members. I used to be a Teamster. I hate union organizers and union-serving politicians. They’re vile.

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    I remember riding to school, trapped in the middle of the bench seat of an early 1970s Datsun longbed, as my friend’s mom reached down to shift the 4-speed more or less directly into my ballsack. So much noise, so little acceleration, and a leaf-sprung ride that made our History unit on covered wagons come alive.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Those getting all misty eyed, nostalgic and claiming they would buy a 2021 version of one, no question, a test drive would bring them straight back to reality.

      I want to be there when they go to recline the bench seat and their head bangs the back window.

      Weekend chores and a trip to The Home Depot and back, they could deal with, but the daily commute would be a nogo.

      Their timing was dead on, but that was then. It’s like that movie you haven’t seen in 30+ years, it was one of your favorites, but when you finally sit down and watch it, you realize why it’s been so long.

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    A few years later in life, my big brother proudly returned from the city vehicle auction with a chalky-white 1980ish Mazda shortbed with a blue plastic interior and an automatic. Must have been a couple hundred thousand miles on it. Circular metal plate riveted onto the roof where the amber strobe light had been. He asked me to use my newly minted driver’s license to drive it down to JiffyLube for him and get its inaugural oil change. I was so alarmed at the near-total lack of power on the drive over that I fell for their sales pitch. “The fuel filter and air filter both need replacing, you say? Well that makes sense, it doesn’t feel like much fuel or air are making it to the engine at all.” Driving it home, it felt exactly the same. My brother very generously offered to split the cost of all the needless stuff they had sold me.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    There is a big difference in cost and safety of a 1972 vehicle versus a 2019. For their time these trucks were a good buy and they were very reliable. I owned a 1985 Mitsubishi Mighty Max which was a little more improved over the 1972s but I never bought it for power or for ride quality, I bought it to use as a truck. A truck is used for hauling things that you cannot haul in a car or an enclosed crossover. If you didn’t like the power or the ride of a smaller truck you could always buy a larger car with a V8 which at that time would be more comfortable and quicker than even a full size truck during those times. I wouldn’t mind having a true compact size truck with today’s safety features and technology even if it is not exactly like a 70s compact Japanese mini truck. With fuel injection and turbo charging a compact truck made today would be quicker than most cars from the early 70s.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I wouldn’t want to drive any 70’s vehicle as a daily driver regardless of size or type. People got killed or seriously injured in large cars and trucks during the 70’s as well. Today’s vehicles are much safer and for the most part people have a greater chance of surviving a major accident unless they do not wear seat belts. If you are comparing a compact truck from the 60’s and 70’s to any vehicle made today you need to include any large vehicle from the 60’s and 70’s as well because you can just as easily get killed or seriously injured as well. How about comparing a car made in the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s as well. Today’s vehicles greatly increase chances of surviving a major accident if you wear seat belts and if you don’t wear seat belts then you are more likely to win the Darwin award.

    • 0 avatar
      -Nate

      I dunno Jeff ;

      I realize I live in the low rust area but I see and talk to lots of people young and old who seem to enjoy driving older vehicles as daily drivers if they’re not rusty or other wise unsafe and yes, they all use seat belts, even a dinosaur like me used the damn things .

      I just bought a ‘modern’ 2001 Ranger and it’s the basic stripped XL model with stick shift and is very similar in feeling to my old 1969 Chevy pickup base model…

      -Nate

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Nate, that is your choice and I am not going to tell anyone what to drive. I had a 99 S-10 5 speed extended cab that I drove a couple of times a week that I gave to my nephew–still runs and looks like new. I gave it to my nephew because I just bought my neighbor’s low mileage 2012 Buick Lacrosse E-Assist at an unbelievable low price. Your Ranger like my S-10 has driver’s and passenger front airbags which were not available in 1972. I had that S-10 for 20 1/2 years since new and it was one of the most reliable vehicles I have ever owned. Congratulations on the 2001 Ranger they are great trucks and I almost bought one when I bought my S-10.

    • 0 avatar
      -Nate

      Just so .

      I didn’t like the S10’s when they came out but millions of hard miles in fleets changed my mind on that although I’ve never owned one .

      I like basic work tools and this truck is a simple and basic tool .

      I have no illusions about lack of safety in my oldies, I ride Motocyles too in spite of large evidence that it’s dangerous and foolish…

      To each their own .

      -Nate

  • avatar

    I can assume that all of them are disposable, throw away cars. So I would not buy any if it comes to it. But theoretically I would buy Mazda because it looks cute and burn rest of them environmentally friendly way and turn heat to electricity to charge my Tesla.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    miserable little S#!+boxes…all of em’

  • avatar
    tbone33

    Buy! I bought a 16 year old Nissan 720 for $400 out of college in 2000, when I had about $600 to my name. The truck had 185k miles on it when I purchased it, and the lady I bought it from said she wouldn’t drive it outside of town due to the high mileage. The thing leaked oil, but I sold it to a gardener 3 years later with 30k more miles on the odometer for $400. It was a perfect flat broke and fresh out of college car, even if it did need a new alternator a year before I sold it.

    I’ve long wished we still had a few compact pickups on the market that drive like shit, accelerate like a sloth, cost little, and run forever. Selfishly, it would be great to have a cheap motorcycle mover. Selflessly, it would be nice to have cheap transportation for the many that need it.

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