It was remarkably unlike any photoshoot Super Street has ever undertaken; a rare, if not unprecedented, occurrence. It was even more unusual than the time we took pictures of myself in drag a couple of years ago and crazier than the happy hour photos of JDM Wong knocked out on the floor, adorned in garish makeup that made the prostitutes on Hollywood Boulevard recoil in disgust. It was a photoshoot that would make you bust out your pink Polos and reach for the sky. Yes, this photoshoot features Lawrence Keller's 1972 Datsun 620 Pickup, a ride you've never seen anything like in Super Street. As former editor Carter "Won Jo" Jung would say, "For realz?"
This truck is so obscure that Wikipedia.org doesn't even have a page for it. It's so old that people back then didn't even call it a "truck," but rather a "pickup." The last time I heard the word "pickup" associated with an automobile, it was when I "picked up" those same prostitutes on Hollywood Boulevard, uh, I mean, I've never heard the word "pickup" to label a ride. It was definitely made way before Gucci was the clothing to rock, way before Slick Rick got his songs to pop. In other words, this muthaflipper is ancient!
Despite its antiquated stylings, this Datsun pickup makes old-school fanatics like me want to pick one up (no pun intended). First, Datsuns last forever for some reason, as if the employees at Datsun created some sort of anti-aging cream and rubbed it all over the cars they made. Second, all Japanese cars made in the `70s almost always look fresh lowered and to the ground, coming up to the spot looking extra fly. Last, Datsun engines are built like tanks, strong and reliable, lampin' like a lightpost. Overall, it's an amazing feat, what the Datsun heads did back in the day. It's surprising that fewer people are tuning these types of rides today.
Originally, the Datsun 620 Pickup was equipped with a L16, which was the same engine used for the 1968-1973 Datsun 510. Lawrence flipped the script and installed a Datsun in-line 4-cylinder 2.2L motor, building the engine and all its aftermarket components by himself; an easy feat for him, considering the fact that he's an automotive engineer. The engine is a hybrid of a Nissan NAP-Z block and a U67 head from a Datsun L20B. Some of the parts under the hood are as equally old school as the car itself. Getting lost like a black Kate Moss in the cylinder head is a set of Isky camshafts with a 480 lift and 270 duration. Loud like the pastel on Kanye's BAPE shirt is a dual 40mm Mikuni carburetors and a custom-made 2.5-inch stainless steel exhaust. Lighting up the L.A. skyline is some fresh-to-def Doug Thorley headers and NGK spark plugs. Let's just say that damn, they don't make `em like this anymore.
Some other engine modifications include a remote oil filter, GReddy breather oil catch can, and the relocation of the battery to the bottom of the dashboard near the passenger side. It clocked like Big Ben with a 160 hp dyno run at 5,500 rpm and 175 lb-ft of torque at 3,400 rpm. All of this hyphy horsepower and torque is transferred to the ground via Datsun 5-speed transmission from a 1979 200SX. The 5-speed drops gems with a Razo carbon fiber shift lever and the clutch is clutch like Jerry West, coming from a Datsun roadster tranny system.
As you notice, the exterior cleans up like Detroit Red. It features a custom-made and fitted tonneau cover, finished rear taillight pan, and a Euro-style front and rear signal and taillight lenses. All of which are surrounded by a red paint color, and dent-less and seamless body line. The exterior even boasts some 21st century flavor by way of BMW E30 Euros headlights with HID. Two words: muy major.
But those headlights and the hybrid engine pale in comparison to what Lawrence sees in his eyes as the most unique features. "The original all-wheel drum brakes were upgraded on all four corners with Wilwoods," he explains with a huge smile on his face. He's talking about the 13-inch vented rotors with 4-piston Dynalight Wilwood calipers in the front and 12-inch solid rotors with 2-pistons Dynalight Wilwood calipers makin' love in the back row. "Plus, this is perhaps the only Datsun 620 Pickup in the world with 18-inch Volk Racing wheels," he continues, pointing at what we already saw earlier, the hard-to-ignore 18x8 TE37 wheels highlighting the already stout pickup in all of their bronze glory. They're wrapped around with Nitto tires and sit happily with Pacesetter front and rear stabilizer bars at the ready, in case Lawrence decides to turn haphazardly around the freeway onramps.
He also added an on-board air compressor to alleviate the rear air shocks to "support my periodic Home Depot runs," he says. These controls are easily manipulated in the cabin, which is as equally impressive as the exterior. "The interior trim panels are all carbon fiber," Lawrence points out, as we gather in the inside of his cabin. They're accompanied by custom bucket seats, MOMO carbon-fiber steering wheels, and a push-button ignition start, all of which scream Back to the Future, as if Lawrence jumped into a DeLorean.
This dichotomy of new and old, added on top of pure rarity and creativity, makes Lawrence ahead of the curve, way above the game. Sure, many have tried their hand at modifying trucks, mixing and matching certain parts, but all they get is a flurry of weird looks on the roads. When Lawrence rolls deep in his Datsun pickup with his TE37s, clean body and an epic sounding motor, everyone who sees it is left agape, kind of like how we were when we first realized that this was the first-ever truck to ever grace the pages of Super Street. This truck provides something special in the air, aside from burned clutches and exhaust fumes.
OWNER Lawrence Keller
HOMETOWN Whittier, CA
DAILY GRIND automotive engineer
POWER 160 hp at 5,500 rpm;
175 lb-ft of torque at 3,400 rpm
UNDER THE HOOD Nissan NAP-Z 2.2L block and U67 Datsun L20B cylinder head hybrid engine, fuel and oil stainless steel lines braided with AN fittings, polished aluminum valve cover, MSD 8mm spark plug wires, NGK spark plugs, Electronic with MSD and ACCEL ignition, Doug Thorley headers, 2.5-inch stainless steel exhaust, dual 40mm Mikuni carbs, Mikuni intake manifold, cleaned up ported and polished U67 head, Isky L4 camshafts 480 lift 270 duration, Nismo forged flat top pistons
DRIVETRAIN Datsun 5-speed from 1979 200SX transmission, Razo carbon fiber shift lever, Datsun Roadster clutchROLLERS 18x8 Volk Racing TE37 wheels with Nitto 225/40-18 tires
STOPPERS 13-inch vented rotors with 4-piston Dynalight Wilwood calipers, 12-inch solid rotors with 2-piston Dynalight Wilwood calipers, Wilwood brake pads, braided stainless steel brake lines
STIFF STUFF Bell Tech front struts, stock with 2 leafs removed, Monroe air shocks, Pace setter front and rear stabilizer, Energy Suspension bootings
OUTSIDE Custom made front air dam, BMW E30 Euro headlights with HID, LED lighting, custom made and fitted tonneau cover, finished rear taillight roll pan, Euro front and rear signal and taillight lenses
INSIDE Custom bucket seats, carbon-fiber panels, MOMO carbon fiber steering wheel, custom stainless pedals, push button ignition star, Pioneer head unit and CD player, Rockford Fosgate 2-way 5-inch diameter in the front, and Pioneer 3-way
PROPS My family for their patience,"Thank you dear"