Winter’s Coming! 1986 Nissan 720 4X4 King Cab

Winter’s a’comin’, unfortunately, if a person lives in a region that gets cold and snow for 5+ months out of every year and they don’t like it and never have. 1986 was the last year for Datsun’s, I mean, Nissan’s 720 series pickups. I really like them, they’re almost from another era, a simpler time before vehicles became highly-designed and when pickups were meant to haul things and not necessarily look fancy in the process. You can’t haul as much in a small truck such as this 1986 Nissan 720 4X4 King Cab as you can in a full-sized truck, but this would be a really fun little hauler to own. It’s on Craigslist in Stillwater, Minnesota (if the link goes away, the photos and info can be found here) with an asking price of $2,500 or offer, pretty much dead-on NADA’s average value number.

I thought long and hard about this one, I was almost positive that I would be driving it home. But, when the seller confirmed that it had rust, I changed my mind. I don’t need another rusty winter vehicle and I know that living in the upper-Midwest pretty much guarantees that if you drive your vehicles on public streets in the winter, they will get rusty. Period. That is such a huge drawback to those of us who live and breathe cars and trucks and hate to see them deteriorate before our eyes. Not to mention the part where it dips to 20 degrees below zero for days on end. Yeah, fun stuff! With a nice 4X4 pickup like this one, you want to drive it in the snow, that’s why all four wheels put down power to the road, for added traction. It’s a classic conundrum: drive your classic (yes, 30+ years old is classic in my world) vehicle in the snow to enjoy its 4-wheel drive, or keep it locked up and away from salty roads until spring? This truck is cheap enough that if the underside and other important mechanical bits aren’t rusty and unsafe; just drive it. If a person needed a cheap winter vehicle, this could be a nice find, especially with the King Cab feature. And, you could always put those plastic fender flares on it to hide the rust for a couple of years. Hmm.. maybe I should go and look at it anyway..

This is it for photos, just three. I’m sure that the seller would send you some, even though he didn’t send any to me when I asked, but he did confirm that “it does have rust, it is a 31-year-old truck.” This graduated interior pattern is yet another killer feature, I wish that we could see more of it. There should be a couple of folding seats in the King Cab portion behind the front seats which are probably not enough for a comfortable cross-country ride for adults, but maybe enough for kids. Not that anyone would actually put a human back there anyway, but it is a great place to store your stuff, especially your winter survival gear (boots, shovel, 14 bags of M&Ms, etc..)..

There are no photos of the other side of the truck and also no engine photos, but this one has Nissan’s Z24, 2.4L inline-four with around 103 hp and 134 ft-lb of torque. “The former owner said the engine was replaced in the past”, according to the seller. This truck shows 280,000 miles now, and that’s getting up there, even for me! This truck has “new rear brakes, battery and head valve cover gasket.” What are your thoughts on this Nissan 720? It looks like it would be a great winter vehicle – or would you rather pay more for a rust-free example and then never drive it on salt-ridden roads in the winter?


Fast Finds


  1. Don H

    That bed us not much smaller then some new 4 door trucks.

  2. Pete

    I had one. Couldn’t kill it. Its likely good for another 50000+ miles.

  3. Matt

    I have an 1985 single cab, base model. I got it for $250 and promptly replaced the Monster Energy drink can floor patches with some proper license plate patches, replaced the carb with a Weber and ripped out all the emissions equipment. It can sit for a month and then starts without a care in the world. I own a tuned Volvo C30 with some suspension mods and an exhaust and a 1987 El Camino with a 350, headers, etc and the Nissan gives me more smiles per mile than either of them. It is as basic as can be and simply goes. With the 5 speed manual it is quicker than it’s 100hp would suggest. Hopefully it will last a few more years before it completely rusts away.

    • Miguel

      If you need parts for your truck I sell them. I have the side marker light as well as the turn signal lenses in clear.

  4. Miguel

    Just a note. That body style was used up until 1991 in Mexico and we had some different trucks like the one ion the picture.

    Like 1
    • Nemosfate

      If I ever could afford it I’d have a 4 door like that imported for myself

  5. Moxman

    I currently have an 85 King Cab 2WD truck the same color as this one. With the cloth seats, door panels, leather wrapped steering wheel, tach and clock and stainless trim on the dash, I’m thinking this truck is, in fact, an ST. A picture of the tailgate would confirm this, as the tailgate on an ST has a stainless steel insert. I’ve driven my truck everyday for 25 years and it now has 415,000 miles on it. It still runs perfectly. These are great trucks. Even with some rust, it would probably make sense to repair it. My truck was appraised at $3,500 two years ago, so the price on this 720 is reasonable. I hope someone who appreciates these trucks gets it and freshens it up.

    • Lydel

      86 4wd ST were fuel injected, 86 2wd ST were carbed. One year only as the hardbody came out in 86.5

  6. Bill Walters

    The frames are subject to rust through right around the rear wheels; sometimes these trucks break in two. Other than that they are great vehicles and will do hundreds of thousands of miles with the right care. had a few of them and would like another but are hard to find.

  7. DrinkinGasoline

    This would last about 4 years in N.E.Ohio. There is one about 2 miles from me and the body of the cab and bed are literally eaten half way up from the bottom. Still kicking but all the panels flap as it catches wind.

    Like 1
  8. John T

    I am not ready for winter but this would be a nice winter truck to have in the Northeast although like the author Scotty G, I am also concerned about the high mileage and the rust. Amigo Miguel does not have to worry about winter where he is!

    • Miguel

      That is for sure John. This past winter I wanted to take my son to experience snow for the first time, and I couldn’t find any.

      It is 10:20 PM right now and 86 degrees with high humidity.

  9. David

    never for sale—-

    Like 1
    • BMW4RunninTundra

      That is one tight truck!!!! Never for sale is right!!! I bet you get offers, all the time!! From the two pics alone, one would think it is brand new or “lightly” used!!!
      Well done! Very well done!!

      • David

        THANK YOU!!! I have been offered $10,000 cash for her. Nope, no way. Many years of work put into her. Here is a picture of Debbie the Datsun, with her 1 year older cousin Tammy the Toyota.

        Both trucks at different times blew their head gasket, as they are known to do. SO, I pulled engine, xmission and xfer case and rebuilt all at 1 time.

  10. JimmyJ

    My dad had a 84 4×4 supercab put 450k on it never even took the valve cover off
    When he sold it I still saw it running around for years!

  11. Howard A Member

    Nice truck. Probably the nicest truck they offered.. They ( and Toyota’s) were very popular, beat America to the punch, and it took years for US to catch up. S-10’s and Ranger’s were no match for these.( not that there was anything wrong with S-10’s or Rangers, these were just better) Same old thing, you just don’t see any in the midwest, because, like I’ve said so many times, people in winter climates tried every 4×4 that came down the pike. These were hugely popular with contractors or construction, as it got them to work every day in all weather, and therein lies the problem. 5 or 6 winters in the “salt bath” and that was it. Nothing left. Hmm, do you think Nissan knew that??? You bet they did.

  12. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    David, I stand corrected! In my research, I saw that power windows and locks were supposedly standard on the ST, but apparently that is incorrect. Thanks for the great info, and that’s a great looking truck!

  13. RD Hull

    Here’s how some solved the HP deficit in the eighties. Aftermarket blower kit just for the Datsun Z20-24 engines. As installed on my 720 King Cab 4×4.

    • David

      RD HULL–wow, I have never seen or heard of a blower for our trucks. Do you have any info on them/write-ups/ebay for sale?

    • Moxman

      Wow is right! I’ve never seen one of these either; but would like to. I saw a picture of a Japan spec. Z-24 engine with a factory turbo; but never a blower. If you have any information about this blower, please share it on this forum.

      I’m also now convinced that the truck for sale IS an ST, based on the picture of the DX that was just recently posted.

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