Herseth's Ol' Datsun P'-Up
Photo's and text by Dale Herseth
This is a 1965 Datsun L-320UN pickup. This was the last year for this body style. The 65's also had a little different grill design from all the other years. Most of the 320 pickups came with a 4 speed with the shifter on the column. The next generation pickups (the 1966 520's) came with a floor mounted shifter, however the floor mounted 4 speed also made it into some of the late model 65's, like mine. The engine is a 1200cc "E1" with a whopping 60 HP. The engine is all original, with positive ground and a generator. It has a 4.88 rear axle ratio & very low "Granny" first gear. The color of the pickup is called Bamboo Tan.
"HOW I FOUND IT" I had been keeping my eyes open for an old Datsun pickup for the last couple of years. While one a Sunday drive in a local part of town, I saw this old pickup sitting behind someone's place of business. I stopped to get a closer look at this old truck that was sitting behind a chain link fence. It looked terrible, all the tires were flat, the windshield was smashed, the paint was all faded and looked like chalk. I could not get a better look, since it was on the opposite side of the fence. I thought about it for a minute, and decided to write down the phone number off of the business sign out front, and call during a work day. The next day I called the place of business and asked the gentlemen on phone, if he knew anything about the old truck sitting behind the fence. He said that it was his. He told me that he was the second owner, and has had the pickup since 1969, but it has not been running in the past 6 1/2 years. But he said that if has fairly low miles on it. I ended up buying the pickup over the phone, with out taking another look at it. I did not have any idea what I was getting into, or if the pickup was even all there or not. That evening with the help of a co-worker, we towed the little pickup home. After closer inspection at home, I found that the pickup was 100% complete. The owners manual was in the glove box, the jack and tool kit were behind the seat and even the original crank for hand starting the engine was there.
"RESTORING IT" For detailing the pickup, I took just about everything apart. I pulled out the engine and transmission. Completely gutted the old torn up interior, and pulled off the bed to detail underneath the pickup. I spent the next couple of months, just cleaning the frame, engine compartment and the underside. Then I repainted the complete frame with a chassis black paint from a company called Eastwoods. New bushings, u-joints and the like were all replaced. Even though the engine had fairly low miles on it, I decided to have it gone through. A local engine builder, tore it down and rebuilt it. I also did the interior in close as I could get to the original material, and in the original pattern. This included new headliner, seat, door panels. For the floor I had to use carpet, since there was no way to find a new vinyl floor mat to look original. It still has the original "Bamboo Tan" paint on the pickup. New radial tires were used instead of the old bias ply's for a little better ride. Very few of the parts are still available from the local dealer, but I was able to get a couple. The harder things to find were some of the gaskets, and a windshield. I still have a few small things to complete on the pickup, but most of the big things are done. Everything now works on the old pickup, even the original AM radio and speaker.
Dale Herseth Mesa, Arizona