I crossed paths with this car at a show in Scottsdale. Unfortunately I did not get to meet the owner, so I don’t have too many details about the vehicle.
For the second post in our series of engine swaps, I bring you this Datsun 280ZX with the rumble of a Chevrolet LS1 engine! Somebody really took their time and effort to make this an all-around fun car.
Besides the engine, this car has also been upgraded with Wilwood disc brakes, a nice stereo, custom gauges, and other comforts. The body looks sharp in red with chrome trim and a subtle body kit on the front and rear.
Way back when, before all Nissan Hardbodies sported a set of Escalade wheels there was the Datsun 720. I wasn’t sure what this thing was at first, just some old Nissan truck. I’d seen it around town a couple times, once down 32nd Street, and again around 19th and Union Hills. Recently I was finally able to get a closer look and still couldn’t tell what it was, there was no badging so I had to research it a bit. Apparently these trucks were sold as the Datsun 720 from 1980 to 1982 and switched over to Nissan 720 until production ended in 1986.
I’m not sure what the factory or dealership options were when these things were new but regardless of that I’d like to think that the original owner responded with a simple “all of them” when asked.. this including one hell of a graphics package (that’s almost, but not quite, as gaudy as what Ford offers for the Raptor). Don’t get me wrong though, I like it, it screams early 1980’s and I love it for that.
I can’t quite put my finger on how I would like to stereotype the driver of this truck. In fact, after about ten minutes of waiting to greet the driver I determined that I don’t actually want to know what they are like and went on my way. Whatever assumption you have about the owner of this truck is a fact (it’s more fun this way).
It’s good to see something old, clean, driven, and not beat to piss. I’m sure its offroading days are long gone, especially with those street tires, but you never know.
It’s a curiosity for sure.
A couple interesting notes I found in my research:
– In 1959 Datsun became the first company to import a compact truck to the US
– Only 10 or so trucks were imported that first year
– In May of 1986 the 720 was replaced by the Hardbody
The car you see here is powered by a SOHC 3.0L V6 that managed to make 160hp in it’s naturally aspirated form, according to Nissan. Not too shabby considering a 5.7L v8 nearly twice it’s size could barely manage similar numbers with exception to the brand-new L98 TPI mill for the 1985 model year.