This Datsun Proves The Coolest Vintage Trucks Are Ones That Were Raced
Photography Courtesy of Cool & Vintage
Here’s the problem with your first track day: once you’ve got the itch for circuit racing, you’re wrecked—well, hopefully not literally. What I mean is, you’ve approached the slippery slope like an amateur skier on a double black diamond summit. All of the sudden, this newfound pastime isn’t something you want to do occasionally: you want to make the track a second home. Addicted, you start to calculate what you’ll need.
It starts with a second set of wheels and sticky tires—harmless enough. Obviously, you don’t want to rent or borrow a stanky helmet, but you can justify that cost because it’s for safety. Then it’s brake pads… fresh fluids at more frequent intervals… then you gut the interior, install a bucket seat and harness, and eliminate everything that once made your vehicle a practical daily driver—all in the name of racing… because you just couldn’t stay off the track. Tisk, tisk.
It extends from one day a month to two-plus-day weekend events. You’ll need a large cooler with plenty of snacks and beverages, change of cloths, tools, spare parts, a jack and that additional wheel and tire combo we mentioned. Almost forgot, you’ll also need a quality folding chair for those in-between cool down sessions. Congratulations: you’ve just ruined your daily driver. I did the same thing. It was the single worst–greatest thing I ever did. Here’s the real problem: how are you going to get all this stuff to and from the track?
The next step is obviously a tow truck and trailer—jeeesh, this escalated faster than your saving account’s interest rate! Well, if you like classics (you are reading an article on Petrolicious, after all), I’ve got just the solution: buy this 1984 Nissan Sunny B110 1200. This compact Japanese pickup shares the same platform as the surprisingly capable Sunny coupe and sedan—this model just so happens to have a small but useful bed.
No, it won’t tow a track car on a trailer… but it doesn’t need to! It’s the three-in-one package—it is the tow truck, trailer, and track “car.” It’s a unibody pickup that has big aftermarket support—from suspension and brake upgrades to go-fast goodies, this Sunny workhorse can tote you and all your race day equipment, round-trip circuit. Stiff, lightweight, and easy to work on, what else do you need?
In all seriousness, this isn’t nearly as far-fetched as it sounds. In Japan, seeing a Sunny pickup spin ‘round the tarmac isn’t all that uncommon. It might not break any lap speed records, but its 1.2-liter A12 four-cylinder will make you work for mph, and what’s more fun than driving a slow car truck fast? It has enough hauling capability for all your gear and is bulletproof Nissan reliable.
This Sunny pickup has a four-speed manual transmission, a conservative but peppy inline-four, and iconic 13” Watanabe wheels—already saving you money: track wheels included! Sure, the drum brakes and leaf spring suspension aren’t optimal for transponder-recorded lap times, but weighing in at ~1,600 pounds, it’s a great momentum platform—that will teach you to hunt for hunt inertia before horsepower.
Despite its racing potential, if you’re uninterested in track days (for now), this Nissan Sunny pickup is a cheap way to enter the classic motoring realm. My first classic was a ’73 Datsun 620 pickup and it taught me more than any vehicle I’ve owned to date—I still have that old truck, by the way.
Whether you’re in the market for an inexpensive grocery-getter, an affordable track toy, or your very first nostalgic auto, an old Nissan Sunny pickup is an often overlooked option worthy of your enthusiast attention. It’s cheap, rare, versatile, and easy to work on. Why not give an old Japanese pickup a go?
– Japanese-spec model
~75 horsepower, 1.2-liter four-cylinder A12 1200 cc engine, four-speed manual transmission, drum brakes, front coil spring and torsion-bar suspension, rear leaf spring suspension. Wheelbase: 90 inches.
Model: Sunny B110 1200