Junkyard Gem: 1979 Datsun King Cab Pickup

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Small Japanese pickups sold very well in the United States during the 1970s and well into the 1980s, with the Ford (Mazda) Courier, Chevy (Isuzu) LUV, Toyota Hilux, and Dodge (Mitsubishi) D-50 becoming commonplace sights on American roads during that period. Nissan was right there in the sales battle with the Datsun 620 and 720, and today's Junkyard Gem is a final-year example of the 620 with the "King Cab" extended-cab option, photographed last winter in a Denver-area self-service yard.

The 620 was available in North America from 1972 through 1979, and I've found quite a few in wrecking yards over the years. The Datsun name stuck around here until Nissan phased it out during the 1982-1984 "The Name Is Nissan" period.

The King Cab version seems laughably small by modern pickup standards (keep in mind that trucks like this weighed just over 2,000 pounds, while the current crop of small pickups scales in at around two tons apiece), but it provided a good amount of lockable storage space behind the seats. This truck's 720 successor got folding jump seats in the King Cab.

The engine for all the later US-market 620s was the tough L20B, a bored-and-stroked version of the engine used in the legendary Datsun 510. If this is the engine that was in this truck when it left the factory (likely but not certain, given all the engine swaps that happen with old trucks), it was rated at 97 horsepower.

Automatic transmissions in 1970s small pickups are very rare, but this Datsun has one. Fuel economy must have suffered greatly with this setup… just in time for the 1979 Oil Crisis triggered by the Iranian Revolution.

The sun has fried the interior in most comprehensive fashion.

Thanks to the five-digit odometer, there's no way to tell how many miles this truck really traveled during its life. I'm going to guess that it was 320,799 miles.

Is there rust? Oh, yes, there is rust.

Still, this truck looked sharp when it was new.

Jimmy The Junkyard Dawg visited this truck around the same time I did and shot video.

The 620 was sold as the "Sportruck" in Canada. Apparently it was known as the "Lil' Hustler" in the United States, though I don't recall ever hearing a 620 owner use the term.

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