A Little Datsun Truck History
For the past
decades, Nissan has shaped and reshaped the American truck
market. It was roughly 40 years ago when a small Japanese
automobile manufacture imported a new model to the United
States. The Datsun Pickup was not just a new vehicle; it represented
an entirely new concept, The compact or mini truck. And today
the compact trucks are among the best-selling vehicles in
the United States. It was in 1959 that Nissan introduced its
compact truck amongst the gas-guzzling beasts from the domestic
manufactures. With these giants powered by V8 engines came
treble gas mileage amid a oil driven society. Emerged the
Datsun 1000 compact pickup truck, the first truck of its kind.
It was a vision opposite the beast. A vision of better things
to come with it's 1000cc 37-horsepower four-cylinder engine
and quarter-ton payload capacity. The truck was soon upgraded
to a 1200cc 60-horsepower engine. The revised Datsun 320 pickup
hit the American ports in 1961, but it wasn't until the introduction
of the Datsun 520 that caused sales to jump to historic proportions.
Datsun broke into the top ten, in sixth place with passenger
cars sales of 13,201. To this number should be added 5514
Datsun trucks, of a total of 18,715 vehicles altogether. This
represented 2.3 percent of the import passenger cars and 39
percent of the import trucks sold in the United Stated for
those years. It was a very rugged small unit and it appealed
to a lot of dealers up in the Northwest area. It was the grow
in this area that built the foundation for the Datsun name.
It was the truck that started the whole company in the US.
The truck business actually brought the company to grow into
a passenger car business once the public and the dealers realized
the durability of the Datsun products.
of the Datsun compact truck drew the attention of other manufactures.
To stay ahead of the competition Datsun continued to make
improvements in handling, ruggedness. Comfort, and safety.
The Company developed a series of breakthroughs innovations
that have become standard in today's marketplace. In 1969,
the Datsun truck became the first half-ton compact pickup.
In 1975, the Datsun trucks offered the first long bed. In
1977, the Datsun trucks the first King Cab extended-cab compact
truck was introduced; and in 1978, Datsun front disc brake
along with electronic ignition became standard. The latter
of the four options became available during the fourth generation
of the Datsun truck, The Datsun 620 in production from 1971
PL-620 "Li'l Hustler"
introduction of the PL620, named the " Li'l Histler",
was a vehicle with a four-cylinder, a 92-horsepower OHC L16
engine, and a weight of 2286 pounds. Its suggested list price
was $2236 on it's release to the US in May 31 1972.
was a immediate replacement for the very successful PL-520/521
model. It was embrace with open arms due to the energy crunch
of the 70's. In 1974 the L16 was replaced with the L18 and
to be replaced again in 1975 by the L20b. The 620 was available
with either a standard 4 speed manual or 3 speed automatic
transmission It wasn't until 1977 that a 5 speed became available.
was often referred to by its owners as the Bullet or the Bulletside
because of its unique body lines that began on the doors,
just below the door window, and continue as bed rails down
the bed and around the tailgate.