Michael Lepker is one of the coolest old-skool minitruckers out there. He pretty much puts everybody's dads, grandpas, and friends to shame. While most dads are tinkering on some old Chevy or a ridiculous Model A, Mike Lepker is building minitrucks. Not just any minitruck, either, but a truly cool and old-skool one. He started messing with trucks in Escondido, California, back in 1974 and has since owned more than 18 Datsun 620s. We sat down to talk to Mike and this is what he had to say.
What keeps you motivated?
Living in the desert, seriously. There is so little to do, you have to find a productive outlet with your time. I've gotten back to my roots, I'm building and sharing what many have never seen, the way that minitrucks were built in my teenage years. "A new era of oldness!"
How many current projects do you have and what are they?
1.'721/2, 620. I picked up this truck in great original shape. It even has the original dis-tributor cap. I plan on keeping this one stock for a long time to show future generations what they look like from the dealer.
2. Funtana. '74 620. This is a finished truck, which was built period correct for 1975. Minimal body mods were done to keep the factory warranty. It has simple mods, such as a molded L88 hoodscoop, '76 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme headlights, and a small list of shaved items.
3. Ice Blue. '76 620. This is a closed bed Fontana-styled truck. The theme for this truck is a paid-off version, so it has some more mods, but similar to Funtana. Unlike Funtana, this truck will have a full crushed-velvet interior, shag carpet, a sunroof installed with overhead console, cassette deck, and a CB radio. It will also be period correct for '77-'78.
4. Choptana. Another 620. This truck will resemble a truck I saw in an issue of Truckin' magazine in 1975. Back then, I didn't have the courage to chop up a new truck, but 32 years later it's no problem.
5. '73 620 with a Chevy stepside bed. This truck was started by its previous owner and already has a 350/350 combo. Even though I haven't really touched it much, I will in the future.
6. Lil' Stomper 4x4. This was a one-time show winner and '84 centerfold truck. It went from glory to abandoned by the side of the road. Fortunately it still retained most of the accessories that were added years ago. I plan to bring this rare Buick V-6 truck back to its classic look, possibly a few minor changes, but correct wheels and modifications of a monster minitruck of the early '80s.
7. 620 four-door dualie Phantom project. I knew Datsun made four-door pickups as Spence Low displayed two in 1978 at Soledad. These were never allowed in the United States and few, if any, minitruckers have ever seen one, which adds to the fun in this project. The stock four door that I purchased in 2003 was stranded in Washington. A good friend there, who had seen my old photos of Spencer's trucks, sent me an e-mail titled "Mike, You'd better be sitting down when you read this!" It was immediately purchased and brought to Arizona. The fact I live on the Colorado River, led me to the conclusion that the ultimate 620 river-cruiser dualie should be built.