1968 Datsun 520

Nicholas Pippin
Cheyenne, WY
I am a 4th generation retired military vet. I come from a long line of motor heads, and I am passing it on to all 5 of my kids. I was in the throes of a divorce and needed something to occupy my mind and give my hands something to do. So, I picked up a 1968 Datsun 520. (it’s a 1-ton mini truck) Plus, it was something great to do with my 18-year-old son Jesse and it has taken time, and I am now able to work on it with my 10-year-old daughter Lily. My 3-year-old daughter Avery is getting in the middle of the mess giving her 2 cents. The truck is almost 100% rust free, except the normal surface rust. I picked it up on the border of New Mexico and Colorado. My son and I dug into it. We got the old J13 motor running. While doing that I discovered the wiring harness was burnt up in several places. Thus, the reason is that it was parked for about 2 decades. Nonetheless, we worked around that issue. Got it running. Then I got a wild hair and decided to update the truck. So out goes the J13 (1300cc) engine. Found a donor 1996 240sx. One thing ran into another. So, I decided to freshen up the suspension with polyurethane bushings. All of which I had to hand select as no one has any made specifically for the Datsun 520. Lowered it 3” all around. Then I decided to swap out the old drag ling suspension with a rack and pinion. No one made one. So, I did my research and found that the manual Mustang II rack fit the bill. Figured out the geometry and made the rack mount. Used the Mustang II tie-rods and reamed out the Datsun steering arms with the proper taper. Got that all situated. I turned to the interior. Stripped it out. Sanded it down. Sound matted it. Put in a set of ‘66 Mustang seats. I still have tons to do. A shopping list to say the least. The fueling system, cooling system, braking system, and finishing up the wiring to name a few. All of this has had to be custom made and I enjoy every moment that I spend with my kids, and I get to teach them a dying skill and working around a problem as it comes up. Like my dad did with me and my grandfather before him. Once I’m done with this, I plan on teaching my 10-year-old to drive it. It has a millennial anti-theft device: a 5-speed manual.