In 1955, the compact pickup truck produced by Datsun/Nissan. Later, this compact truck was imported to other countries like United States, Australia, Finland, Middle East, certain European countries and South Africa. The most modern and contemporary versions of Datsun/Nissan compact trucks are still produced and sold in different parts of the world as Frontier and Navara.
In January 1955, the Datsun 120 was launched with most contemporary styling of the time. It was powered by 25 hp, 860 cc Nissan D10 engine mated to 4-speed floor shift (column shift for the 123) manual transmission. Its production span spread over three years in which three different models were produced including: 120 (January 1955 to December 1955), 122 (December 1955 to May 1956) and 123 (June 1956 to September 1957). The 121 designation was left out by Nissan for which the reasons are not known. Datsun120 was available in three different versions, i.e. Delivery Van, Panel Van and Double Cab.
The Datsun 220 was launched in November 1957 by Nissan. It remained in production from 1957 to 1961. Four different version were introduced during the production period, i.e. 220 (1957 to 1958), 221 and 222 in 1959, and 223 (1960 to 1961). It shared its chassis with the 210 series. It was available with two engine versions: the 37 hp Nissan C engine and the 48 hp Nissan E engine. The export markets generally received E engine versions. The 223 version received a new Nissan E-1 engine generating 60 hp. A 12 volt electrical system was introduced for the first time in Datsun 220 truck. It was available in ‘Double Cab’ and ‘Delivery Van’ versions. Some of the other names used for 220 include ‘Datsun 1000’ and ‘Datsun 1200’. There were also some low cost options available as well including: Datsun 124 (October 1957, Datsun 125 (1959) and the Datsun 126 (1960).
The 320 series was appeared in August 1961. The series remained in production for about four years, i.e. from 1961 to 1965. Majority of the features were taken from the previous 120 and 220 series with a hint of body and frame improvements. It was powered by a Nissan E-1 engine rated at 60 hp.
After the 320 series, the 520 series was introduced in 1965, while the 420 series was left out of production. The 520 series came with 67 hp Nissan J13 engine. The model offered in 1965 and 1966 came with 2 headlights, while from 1967, it received a minor redesigning and now equipped with 4 headlights. The different versions offered were: Single cab (520), LWB Single cab (G520), Double cab (U520) and delivery van (V520). The fender featured an emblem with ‘Datsun 1300’, while a grille emblem was introduced in 1966 with ‘D’ on it.
Later, the 521 version was introduced with Nissan J engine, i.e. J15 producing 77 hp which was replaced by Nissan L16 later.
The Datsun 620 truck series, a single cab truck was launched in February 1972. The truck remained in production till 1979. In 1977, a King Cab version was introduced. Two different wheel bases were offered for Datsun 620. It was also available in crew cab ‘Utility’ version called U620. The 620 received the Nissan L engine.
The models produced between 1972 and 1973 came with L16 engine followed by L18 engine in 1974. The models produced from 1975 to 1979 received the L20B engine. However, the export market of 620 received the J15 engine. From 1972 to 1973, it received F4W63 4-speed transmission as standard and F4W71 4-speed for the models produced between 1974 and 1979. The FS5W71B 5-speed transmission was offered as an option from 1977.
For the 620 series, a lot of new things were introduced including a first long-bed in 1975; first extended-cab in 1977; front disc brakes in 1978; and in 1978, the electronic ignition.
Datsun 720 was introduced in the mid-1983. It was assembled in the newly built Smyrna, Tennessee plant. It was available in cab and ‘King Cab’ versions, also featuring regular and long bed options. Some overseas markets also received a 4-door variant.
The models appeared from 1980 to 1983 featured a single wall beds with outside rolled lips and rope ties, two faux hood vents and tail lights on lower valance.
However, the model appeared from 1985 to early 1986 featured double wall, smooth sided beds and revised tail lights. The models produced later then 1986 were sold as Nissan Hardbody Trucks with a chassis code of D21.