PThe first of anything is always collectible so why not restore the first series of Toyota or Datsun trucks that made it into the US? There’s one of each for sale in the LA area right now, and both are complete and look like easy projects.
Datsun 1000 Pickup
The first Datsun imported here was the 1958 1000 pickup truck which was also the first of its kind; a mini-truck. Parent Nissan thought a commercial vehicle would have more of a chance to sell than its 1200 Bluebird sedan which the pickup was partially made from.
The 1000 was so named because it was powered by a 1000 cc 37 hp four-cylinder Type C engine hooked to a four-speed manual transmission. It was an overhead-valve engine nicknamed the “Stone Engine” after American engineer Donald Stone who was hired by Nissan to improve on the truck engine. Stone’s improvements included better oil seals and head design.
Soon it was selling mainly to gardeners and local nurseries. With their 1000 pickup, these early adopters got quarter-ton payloads, fuel economy, and a cheap price. It was odd and quirky and that’s sometimes not a bad thing in California, which is where Datsun established its headquarters in Gardena.
The 1000 was renamed the 220 series in 1959 and was receiving numerous tweaks and improvements as Datsun queried customers about their likes and dislikes. Engine size quickly increased to 1200 cc netting 60 hp, almost double the initial 37 hp.
Changes mainly to the engine while maintaining the I-beam front suspension as used in the sedans continued until the all-new 320 series pickup truck came out in August 1961.
1964 Toyota Stout
The first Toyota models entering the US were the 1964 Stout Hilux pickup trucks, though a pickup version of the Land Cruiser was here in extremely limited quantities in 1963. This utilitarian pickup was Toyota’s first attempt at conquering the American market but only four were sold. First appearing in Japan in 1960 the Stout featured leaf springs and four-wheel drum brakes on a typical ladder frame.
As with the Datsun pickup, it appealed mainly to farmers, gardeners, and those looking for a cheap half-ton truck. The $1,760 price was hard to beat in the 1960s.
Powered by a 1.9-liter 3R engine it gave 80 hp and 142 ft-lb of torque. This was the American export version dubbed Stout 1900. It remained unchanged except for minor running changes through 1969. The Hilux was its slightly smaller replacement.
Wheelbase was 102.4 inches when a half-ton American truck was around 115-120 inches. The four-speed manual transmission was column-shifted.
In all Toyota sold about 4,000 Stout pickups between 1964 and 1969 in the US.
Why These Are Good Projects
These both appear to be complete with no rust and that’s the best way to acquire the project of your dreams. Restoration parts will be a bit hard to come by but there is a network of dedicated enthusiasts sure to have the new part you need squirreled away, it’s just a matter of finding them.
As pickups, first American imports for the two largest Japanese car builders, and uniqueness, you can’t beat the plusses these have.
And if you do purchase and start restoring these two gems keep Motor Biscuit apprised of your progress.