Not Your Ordinary Gardening Truck – KA24DE 1969 Datsun 521 Truck
Datsun 521 Japanese Classic Truck
Red. The iconic color of the Ferrari supercars. Next to yellow, it stands out as one of the most targeted vehicle colors by the police, perhaps because the notoriety of the Ferrari’s? But wait, what if the red was on a car that wasn’t really a car, but on an old small displacement truck?
It takes a special breed of an auto enthusiast to maintain a pre-70s automobile in tip-top running condition. Luckily enough here in California where the air is dry and the skies are sunny 355 days out of a year, rust isn’t really a problem.
Miko (pronounced Mee-koh) can only be described as a rockstar of the Little Saigon Community, and a stranger to no one in the area. He knows the best places to eat, to party, to drink, or just relax and have a cup of Cafe Su Da. Miko works hard but plays harder and as an entrepreneur, his prime responsibilities include owning and managing his own hair studio. His 1969 Datsun 521 1300 truck is the purest example of his lively and positive personality. There’s nothing standing in his way of fully restoring this truck, keeping the tradition of Datsun but adapting it to the capabilities of the modern fleet of cars present today.
There used to be thousands of these Datsun trucks in the 80s, but as time and technology takes precedence they are just about in the ‘endangered species’ list. It started with the Datsun 120 introduced in 1955, to the 220, 320, 520/521, 620, and finally ending in 720 in 1985. The signature strap hooks in the bedding, along with the raised DATSUN lettering on the tailgate brings out an old familiarity we have tucked away in a tiny space in our minds where fond memories are stored. Fender mirrors are commonly seen on classics, but how about these pillar mirrors! Its astonishing to think that this truck is 41 years old!
Miko claims that his truck is still under heavy construction, as initially the tired original engine was given its last run, retired and put to rest. Next came the dilemma of what powerplant would be cost effective, efficient, and would fall within the realm of the image of the truck. The KA24De fuel injected Nissan engine was the perfect choice as the plentiful displacement and torque also came equipped in many of Nissan’s successful truck and SUV lineup. Think of it like an old man getting a brand new heart. Widely seen in the classic American automobile culture, its definitely badass to see a classic roaring down the street with a new school motor sound.
Beneath it all, leaf spring suspension and torsion bars extend the wheel base of the machine, both modified to bring down the roll center. The 15×8 6 lug Panasport-type wheels are Miko’s latest hop-up, still scheduled to be reconditioned to that polished lip and stretched tire look in the near future. Think of it like an old man getting a new pair of shoes! Aluminum blocks drop nail the exact stance intended: Not too low and not too high.
For the youngsters, their eyes will definitely be attracted to the bling chromed out valve cover of the KA24 powerplant, however the older crowd probably cant take their eyes off the original window washer reservoir bag. Its hard to believe that this plastic bag had survived many decades of harmful elements, taking refuge under the fender. I hope that the fluid inside isn’t original though!
Back then, lights and fans were regulated by these pull-type knobs. Radios only came in AM frequency and were changed by pressing each slot assigned to its own station. The Emergency brake was a pull and twist type, present right underneath the analog sweep gauge cluster. Miko had decided to keep the original radio but decided to install a modern CD player in the optional console below, along with aftermarket Autometer gauges.
The dual liftgate levers and the visible rear leaf spring assembly creaks away, but still clings to the original chassis it was installed upon. It makes us wonder if this truck had ever been down this same road when it first came out of the Datsun manufacturing plants. Miko is on a mission of full restoration of the vehicle, and is planning to actively participate in various classic car shows throughout Southern California. Be on the lookout, and if you see him on the street make sure to give him props!