EXCLUSIVE: 1968 Datsun 520

Asking: $4,500

If you are a fan of compact durable pickups, the Datsun 520 is likely to be high on your list of potential trucks to own. While they aren’t known to be terribly powerful or fast trucks, they have a history of being robust and dependable, that is if they didn’t rust away. Reader Alan B has decided to part ways with this 1968 Datsun 520 and while it isn’t perfect, it’s a good little driver that is ready to make runs to the hardware store! If you’ve been looking for a classic Datsun pickup, be sure to take a closer look at this one.

The 520 paved the way in the US for Datsun/Nissans much loved 720 and D21 trucks of the ’80s and ’90s. Personally, I prefer the looks of the 520 over its boxy descendants. Of course, every design has to be viewed from the context of when it was created and the 520 is definitely a product of ’60s Japan, with simple and minimalistic curves. Apparently, a previous owner of this truck decided they wanted to simplify the front even more by filling in the turn signal openings. Alan isn’t sure why they did so, perhaps the lenses were damaged and they couldn’t find replacements, as they mounted new signals on the bumper. Who knows? Thankfully, they didn’t cut up the wiring to make it work and Alan was able to find a set of bins and nice lenses. It will take some work to return it to original, but it would definitely be worth doing so.

If you are all about simplicity, you can’t get much more simplistic than one of these. Just look at this interior! There’s a bench seat, a steering wheel, shifter, a few gauges and that’s about it. Honestly, it’s really all you need in a pickup and it sure makes restoring it simple. This one doesn’t need much interior work, you can drive it as is right now, but you could fix a few issues to make it more comfortable. It’s going to need new contacts in the steering wheel to get the horn working and for some reason, the dash lights aren’t working. A new steering wheel would probably be the easiest fix for the horn and the dash likely just needs new light bulbs.

The engine is Datsun’s J13 inline-four. It’s displacing all of 1.3 liters and is rated at 67 horsepower. You won’t be beating anyone off the line with this one, but what it lacks for in power it makes up for in durability. Again, things are as simple as they can get under the hood. Alan has spent a lot of time getting this little engine running great again. When he bought it, it wouldn’t run for more than a few minutes before it would stall. He eventually discovered that the fuel tank has previously been repaired and there was a piece of junk blocking the fuel outlet. He went ahead and replaced the fuel pump, rebuilt the carb, changed the fluids, performed a full tune-up including adjusting the valves, installed a new valve cover gasket, and oil pressure switch. It now runs like a top and he’s been driving it for trips to the grocery and hardware store. There are a few small oil leaks and the exhaust should be replaced, but nothing that will keep it off the road.

Speaking of the previous owner, the individual Alan bought it from found it at the original owner’s estate sale. It had been used on the family farm from new, so it has a few bumps, bruises and corrosion in the bed. Alan spotted it at a swap meet but didn’t end up buying it until a few days later. That was back in 2015 and after getting it running, he’s enjoyed it ever since. Besides a few cosmetic issues, Alan notes that the suspension squeaks a bit and the brakes feel soft. He recently installed a new master cylinder in hopes of getting the brakes working better and while it did help, they still seem soft to him. Chances are it just needs new brake hoses and fluid, but you will want to give the brakes a full once over. They haven’t stopped him from driving it, but he makes sure to plan his braking in advance.

There’s some work to be done here to make this a really nice truck, but it appears to be in solid enough shape to be a driver. For their size and price, they really are hard-working little trucks and this one should have lots of life left in it. Personally, we would treat any rust right away, sort the brakes, fix the horn and put it to work as our parts runner. A modern truck might be faster and more comfortable, but few trucks are as fun to zip around in as one of these! If you have any questions for Alan, please leave them in the comments below and be sure to make him an offer!

  • Asking Price: $4,500 or best offer
  • Location: Dayton, Indiana
  • Mileage:
  • Title Status: Clean

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  1. Fred W

    Happy Thanksgiving to all fellow Barn Finders! May you all inherit a 20,000 sf climate controlled metal building jam packed with your favorite vintage wheels.

  2. r s

    I think a person would have to really, really want one of these to pay $4500 for it. From the video it doesn’t sound like it ‘runs like a top’, in fact it sounds like one cylinder is dead.

    • Josh Mortensen Josh Mortensen Staff

      That’s the exhaust leak r s. Alan knows it isn’t perfect, that why he’s accepting offers.

  3. Stangalang

    Love the split rear bumper..these were some tough little trucks

  4. Jesse Colson

    Looks like a Chevy Luv truck to me

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