Reincarnation Magazine

Reincarnation Magazine
Continuation, Reproduction and Replica Automobiles
Rein Car Nation Cover Fall 2019
						Datsun 720 Roadster 8
Daring Datsun Derivative

Custom Datsun pickup roadster conversion

By Dean Larson

Photos: Seller, BringaTrailer.com

Every so often, we come across a car that really shakes up and redefines a genre. CAL Automotive Creations’ 1930 Ford called Afterthought comes to mind, as the supercharged Model A with Ardun cylinder heads really struck us last year at SEMA. With super unique EVOD wheels and bronze powder coating throughout, the Ford was a fresh concept, and pretty difficult to disagree with.

But game changing builds are not always as seamless as CAL Automotive’s Model A, and I’m sure you’re wondering how any of this applies to this quirky aluminum roadster. Well consider for a moment that this custom creation is actually based on a 1981 Datsun pickup truck, including all its running gear. And while it has an odd angle here and there, this build is definitely a game changer to take note of.

Sema 2018 37

I hope you don’t put me on blast if you think the pickup-based build was perfected elsewhere first, but I really think this little Datsun roadster is a brilliant idea executed pretty well. See underneath the skin, this is an average, run-of-the-mill 1981 Datsun 720 pickup, complete with its new-for-’81 Z22S four-cylinder engine. The carbureted engine made about 86 hp in the Datsun pickup, not exactly sporty stuff, but I don’t think I’ve met anyone who didn’t love these trucks back in the day.

So it seems fitting then, to let the Datsun live again and have a little fun, which is exactly what the builder of this custom roadster has done. After purchasing the truck in 2016 and driving it for a while, the builder stripped it down to its chassis and constructed a custom aluminum roadster body on the truck’s chassis. A tubular steel structure provides strength to the body, and the aluminum panels are affixed using exposed aircraft rivets. The fenders and grille surround are also aluminum, and the blue paintwork adds some dimension to the car.

The rebuilt Z22 four-cylinder looks pretty tidy in the engine bay, and additional performance and roadster cred comes from a pair of Weber DCOE carburetors. A five-speed transmission sends power to the rear, and steel wheels are fitted.

Things are looking pretty legit in the cockpit as well. A machine-turned dashboard sports an array of vintage-esque gauges along with a host of switches and status lights. A wood-rimmed wheel reflects the common Nardi and Moto-Lita style, and the sleek windscreen sports a pair of wipers.

Is the roadster perfect? Probably not, as there are some questionable areas under the dash, but I think the final product is pretty awesome and the work is worth appreciating. It also proves that you don’t necessarily need high-dollar vintage parts to build something cool. This guy took (what was likely) an old beater pickup and built a spirited little machine that would make a splash at any cars and coffee or cruise-in event. Is this baby going to land you at Amelia Island or SEMA, not likely, but what’s the fun in that anyhow?

With five days remaining in the no reserve auction, the high bid is just $999. See it here on BringaTrailer.com.

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