Minitruck Madness – 1972 Datsun 521 Pickup

Much like it’s fun to try out different food, clothing style, or paint your house an unusual color, so it’s also fun to try out a style of car you might never normally own. Unfortunately, cars are usually expensive enough to prohibit that kind of thing, particularly cars where someone’s invested significant time or money to take them in a certain direction. So you probably won’t find many cars with kustom paint jobs that are under the self-imposed RustyButTrusty price cap, but with some patience you can find that 1980s custom minitruck of your dreams. Check out this 1972 Datsun 521 pickup for sale for $3500 somewhere on the peninsula south of San Francisco, CA.

1972 Datsun 521 pickup side

Someone must have spent a fair amount of money doing this custom job – even if it’s not your taste, you have to admire the dedication and skill that went into producing it. And since some of the presumptive upgrading was either undone or never done in the first place, you get to plan what happens next. Wide whites are a pretty common change in a segment of the J-tin subculture, so how about something else? You could go hot-rod with matching color wheels and spiky center caps, 1980s-awesome 12″ Dayton wire wheels (of course then you’d need to do hydraulics for the suspension and bed), or maybe some mesh wheels? Or how about slotted mags, or thinking of a different segment, some Panasports or Watanabes?

1972 Datsun 521 pickup rear

Though it’s hard to tell with such an intricate paint job, everything looks in pretty good shape – straight and shiny. It should have an L16 good for about 95hp, and thanks to the bed liner, you can haul up to 1000 lbs. worth of microwave ovens, refrigerators, or color TVs. The truck is said to need work, but the seller doesn’t elaborate, except to say that it’s drivable in a flat parking lot on a warm day after you’ve said nice things to it. On the plus side, it was the seller’s daily driver for the last 4 years, so he should know a bit about its needs.

1972 Datsun 521 pickup engine

Here’s the engine, looking clean enough, though missing its air filter – is that a hint on what’s needed? The utilitarian design is appealing in its simplicity, and this is the last year before the new bullet-side trucks came out. The L16 also appeared in the 510, so if you dare add power to this platform, you could probably refer to the massive aftermarket for those cars. With any luck, it shares a fair amount with its 510 station wagon sibling.

1972 Datsun 521 pickup interior

Aside from the steering wheel, the interior is surprisingly stock looking. Unless that’s crushed velvet on the seating surfaces? Either way, it looks functional and clean while leaving room for upgrading as you wish. Something to match the exterior would be fun, but likely costly, so how about the ubiquitous Mexican blanket? What would you do with this truck?

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One Response to “Minitruck Madness – 1972 Datsun 521 Pickup”

  1. steve in podunk Says:

    I always kind of wonder what has happened to those old customs from the 70’s and 80’s?; this kind of customizing was very popular at one time but I certainly haven’t seen a survivor like this since I was teenager. Someone put a lot of work and $ into this back in the day. Cool!

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