Faded Glory:1978 Datsun 620 Mini Motorhome

041216 Barn Finds - 1978 Datsun 620 Mini Motorhome - 1

Are you a classic camper fan? This all-original 1978 Datsun 620 Mini Motorhome can be found in nice, dry, Needles, California. This would be one fun project to update this cool camper! I remember when these were new, as probably most of you do. It’s hard to believe that almost forty years has passed since this was a brand-spankin’ new rig, and since I was a teenager admiring these small campers.

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So far so good! Sure, there’s a little fade to the graphics but after thirty-eight years that’s to be expected. This rig has only traveled 11,497 miles since 1978, a person has to wonder why that is. And, they do mention a few things that will need to be fixed.

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There’s one thing that’ll have to be fixed right there. Unfortunately, it’s not one of the things that they mention. Some of those other things would be: the front tires are twelve-years old, “the distibutor shaft was found to be a little sloppy and could be re-bushed”, and just some maintenance things like flushing the radiator and adding a new cap, adding new belts and hoses; all things you would do anyway. The stove in the back works but apparently the refrigerator doesn’t work, and you’ll want to redo the fabrics and some other things anyway while you’re at it. They say that the “toilet appears to have been never used, in my opinion.” I’m not sure if I want to know how they came to that conclusion. That a camper this small has a toilet is a benefit.

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A motorhome with a 5-speed manual is such a cool concept, especially in today’s 99.9% automatic automotive world. You can see that the finishes will need to be updated, but that’s part of the fun of working on an older vehicle like this. The seller says that this was a professional conversion “using the recommended Datsun heavy duty EHL Datsun 620 chassis that featured beefed up rear suspension with stronger springs and shocks  among other things.” Unfortunately, the desert heat wasn’t kind to the interior of this camper. Some plastic parts have warped and some of the seat foam has hardened and the front seats are cracked, etc. But you’ll want to redo those things anyway, and you should be able to find replacement parts for the cab.

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This is Datsun’s famous L20B four-cylinder with 110 hp. According to the seller, they had a compression test done and all four cylinders read 165 which is great. Here is a YouTube video of this engine running. It sounds pretty good to me. This is a great little camper and although it needs a lot of little things fixed, it would be fun to restore it and use this on weekends. This Datsun Mini Motorhome is listed on eBay with almost five days left and the current bid price is just under $2,000. A heck of a deal. I have never camped in one of these little mini motorhomes and I have always wanted to own one. Is this mini camper big enough for you or do you need a full-sized motorhome when you travel?

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Comments

  1. JoeT

    Had a similar camper on a Toyota HD chases (79 IIRC). Was a great small camper that I wish I still had today.

  2. Van

    This looked great when I was in high school.
    They had one inside the mall.
    Me and Bryan wanted to take it snake hunting in the okefenokee swamp.
    Now, my wife would just kill me at our first stop.

  3. Chebby

    Ha, that stove alone has 114,000 miles on it.

    I would not be surprised if this was only a 4-speed, though it does have a 6-lug rear axle. Toyotas had a major safety recall for axle overloading on some models, not sure if Datsun had the same problem.

    Notice the camper is called a Sun Dat? Cute. What I would be worried about is the missing roof vents, the roof could be shot and it’s really common for stored desert campers to be full of mice and their leavings.

    If the camper box is clean and unchewed, you could tiki this thing up for cheap and have a fun little ride.

  4. OA5599

    This is a cool rig. It’s got potential.

    I wonder what kind of mpg it delivers.

  5. angliagt

    How much do these things weigh.Imagine a stock ’78
    Datsun with much more weight – 0 -60 in five minutes?

  6. Charles H.

    Imagine removing the camper body work, and replacing with pickup truck bed……would make interesting looking dually Datsun, with very low original miles!

    • Chebby

      It doesn’t say, but I think those are wide-rim singles in the back. Heavier duty axle for sure, 6 lugs vs 5 on the front.

  7. Howard A Member

    I’d have a hard time believing this only has 11k miles. These weren’t the best camper to travel around with, and people soon found that out. They needed dual rear tires, and were very unstable in strong cross winds. They were horribly under powered as well, and required “foot to the floor” on hills and again, strong winds, eliminating any fuel savings the 4 cylinder may have delivered. One could not remove the camper and put a box on, as the back of the cab was cut off for the camper. Still, for short trips, you can’t go wrong here. Cool find.

  8. cyclemikey

    Wait, what? The distributor shaft bushing is worn out at 11,500 miles? On an L20B? Seriously?

    I’m gagging on that………..

    • MikeK

      Agreed

  9. Matt C

    Looks cool, should have a warning label telling the owner to avoid high wind areas and steep grades.

  10. Charles

    Datsun trucks had 6 lug 14 inch wheels for several years.

    My parents purchased a brand new Datsun pickup in 1967 with an 8 foot slide in camper on it. The Datsun dealer sold the whole rig as a unit. It looked like a dung beetle with a big horse turd on it’s back. The truck had the 1300 CC engine and a four speed gear box. Being a truck it had single rear wheels on it. The slightest wind and the thing was all over the place. 53 MPH wide open with no head wind. With a tail wind on flat ground it saw 55 MPH once, but was a scary ride.

    The camper was not self contained, but was otherwise decent. The truck suffered all sorts of mechanical problems probably due to being overloaded before it’s first birthday. Dad seen the error of his ways and bought a GMC SWB stepside truck in 68. He made a platform to place in the truck bed for the camper to sit on so that the overhead bunk on the camper would clear the cab of the truck. It worked fine and ran for many years like that.

    Of course this truck has the larger engine and dual wheels. With a semi-floating axle dual wheels will offer additional stability, but not additional safety. The Toyota trucks that were recalled for axle failures causing both wheels to come loose from the vehicle demonstrate the issues of mounting dual wheels on a semi-floating axle. When the Toyota’s were recalled the repair was to remove the semi-floating axle and replace it with a full floating axle.

    I worked in the RV business back in the late 80’s and have driven rigs like the subject of this tread. There were a lot of these things on the road in those days were called Micro-Mini Motorhome’s. Compared to offerings like the Renault powered Le-Shario from Winnebago, the later model Micro-Mini’s with the full floating axles were a better option. Toyota’s with the 22R engine would almost move along with traffic.

    As for this coach, if it is not completely rotted out it would make a cute little curiosity for someone wanting a small vintage RV. I can’t imagine attempting a long trip on interstate traffic with it.

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