1 Jun 1971
NISSAN’S light-truck history can be traced back to 1920 and the early days of its DAT organisational predecessor.
From 1947 Datsun, as DAT became from the early 1930s, recommenced pre-war pickup production, but it wasn’t until 1955 that the first modern model, the 120 Pickup, was introduced.
This evolved into the 1957 220 and then the 320 in 1962. The fourth-generation 520, released in 1965, was derived from the ‘Banana-Bender’ Datsun Bluebird.
It wasn’t until 1971 that Australians were included in Datsun’s light truck plans.
That’s when the revamped 520 Pickup arrived with its 1000kg payload. It was sold alongside the smaller, 459kg payload 1200 Pickup based on the popular 1200 light car.
The former was replaced by the 720 ute in 1980, but the latter continued virtually unabated until 1985.
Powering the rear wheels via a four-speed manual gearbox, the 720’s 1.8-litre single-overhead cam four-cylinder engine produced 59kW of power and 133Nm of torque.
A 47kW/140Nm 2.2-litre OHV diesel 720 was optional. Both engines powered 1000kg payload Single Cab, 750kg payload Dual Cab and 500kg payload King Cab pickup models, in 4x2 and 4x4 guises.
Five-speed manual gearboxes replaced the old four-speed units from 1981, but not in all 720s.
A larger 2.2 diesel, with 54kW/143Nm outputs, arrived from June ’83, along with circular instrumentation and a minor facelift.
More changes followed in early ’85, along with the inclusion of a 71kW/172Nm 2.2-litre SOHC four-cylinder petrol engine.
The 720 was replaced by the more-contemporary Navara from 1986.