I left the extremely rare four-door cab alone, but placed it on a lengthened longbed frame. All stock side marker lights, emblems, and rare 620 mirrors will remain. As common as a longbed is to find, I have changed it a bit. The Bulletside has been filled, as well as the bed seams. A '72 Chevy Vega wagon rear bumper was added, replacing the stock turn signal housings. Rear lamps will now be newer Volkswagen Beetle third brake lights mounted vertically in the bed corners. Twenty-five plus years ago, California Stepside Company sold dualie fenders and rims to convert most minitrucks. A set of these surfaced, which inspired this buildup. People will really be scratching their heads wondering, "Did Datsun really build those?"
8. '76 620 right-hand drive. I went to Japan in 2006 and met a fellow Japanese 620 fan. The story of how we met is truly incredible, but I was invited to ride in his RHD, column shift standard cab. It was the ride of a lifetime! Driving out of Yokosuka up into the Japanese countryside, neither one of us understood the other, yet we conversed. We stopped at a piece of property with vehicles and motorcycles, one being a 620. He described (which was translated later) how that truck was cut up and he used the best parts to fix up the 620 we rode in. I inquired about trading for all parts needed to change a U.S. truck to RHD. Those parts (four boxes!) are en route now. My conversion will look like my stock '721/2; except RHD, stock wheels, and hubcaps. Later, we left the property and I was invited upstairs to his spare room. In a sea of NOS parts, photo albums, and magazines, my wife said, "You met the Japanese you!"
How many have you built?
10, 4 have been in magazines.
Are you in a truck club?
Not per se. We have a group of 620 enthusiasts that hang at runs. My first club was Dead End Kids from Oceanside, California where ex Truckin' column writer Marty Smith invited me to my first run. I shaved Marty's tie down hooks on his famous truck, The Hobbit. Later, I was also President of California Altered Minis (CAM) in Barstow.
When did you become interested in trucks?
I started noticing minitrucks about the time I started driving, in 1972. There weren't many fixed up like in O.C. or Fontana. My best friend got his 620 first, then my awesome parents put down money for my graduation gift, which was in 1974. Prior to that, my dad and I were customizing a 1947 Ford 1/2-ton. My 620 was a Jimmy Conner "Baja" build. In 1975, I saw what was going on and I was off and running. All of the off-road stuff was ditched and the Datsun SS was built. I guess I couldn't stop "tinkering!" I've always liked trucks or sedan deliveries best. Minitrucks were progressive, mostly copying the van movement. Spoilers were a given. Fender flares were designed because we got pulled over for "too wide tires."
I was pulled over 42 times in the first 4 years I was driving! My craziest tickets: "altered center of gravity" and another for "headlights out of adjustment!" I was almost arrested on that one when I started pacing off 200 feet! "Just sign" I was told. They always win when you are a minitrucker. Same as it's ever been!
What was your first show?
Great Escape, at Escape Country in El Toro in May of 1975.
What was your most memorable moment?
First was Soledad 1976. Robert K. Smith photographing my Datsun SS. Second was winning a trophy 29 years later at Reso 30th with the same style truck!