| The Datsun 320 went into production in August 1961 as the
replacement for the Datsun 223.
As Nissan moved into the 1960s their vehicles were becoming
more sophisticated, and attention was being paid to what was needed to
sell their cars in markets outside of Japan. The 1962 Datsun 320 is a perfect
example of this.
Whilst the word sophisticated could never really be used
to describe what was a fairly basic little truck, it did represent a substantial
move forward from the Datsun 223 that it replaced. Mechanically the 223
was very good, and it's engineering and performance was on par or better
than other vehicles of a similar size, but it's body was still quite crude
with it's exposed door hinges and fairly clunky styling. The 320 went a
long way towards rectifying these issues, and went on to become a major
sales success for Nissan.
The styling of the new Datsun 320 was based on that of the
310 series Datsun Bluebird sedan. In fact it was so similar to the Bluebird
that it actually used the same doors and bonnet as the sedan. Unlike the
223, the 320 had enclosed door hinges, which vastly improved it appearence.
The 320 was a very pretty little truck, but at the time of it's release
it's biggest problem was that it's styling, whilst still being quite attractive,
was already looking somewhat dated. The sedan it was based on had been
in production since late 1959, and was only a year or so away from being
replaced by the 410 Bluebird, which made the 320 look very old fashioned
in comparison. The reason it sold so well was that underneath it's cute
and old fashioned exterior was a serious and very capable little truck.
It's incredibly strong chassis endows the 320 with the ability to carry
a payload of up to 1000kg, something many vehicles twice it's size aren't
capable of doing. It's rugged and basic design, combined with Nissan's
build quality and attention to detail, went together to make the 320 one
of the most reliable small commercial vehicles ever built. Many of the
features of the 320, such as 6 stud wheels and seam welded chassis', bear
more of a resemblance to a 3 ton truck rather than a small pickup. The
E-1 engines fitted to the 320s were virtually indestructable, as one Australian
motoring journalist once remarked, oil and water are pretty well optional
on these engines, you just can't kill them.
Nissan by now had a habit of changing the grille design of most of their
vehicles every year, and the 320 was no exception, in it's four year production
run it had four different grilles. The 1962 model featured a grille with
six thin horizontal bars with a thin vertical bar in the middle. The 1963
model that followed had a grille that was the same shape but had six horizontal
bars and had a row of seven horizontal slots at the top and the bottom
of the grille. It also had a wider middle bar with a D stamped into it.
The badges on the side say Datsun 1200, and a badge below that says 60hp,
or 55ps on the Japanese domestic models. The badge on the bonnet says Datsun
in an arc at the top and has a capital D in the middle. The bonnet badge
on the Bluebird sedan is similar but instead of a capital D it has a sort
of boomerang shape logo.
The bonnet and doors are the same as the Bluebird sedan,
but the front guards are different. The sedan has small 12 inch wheels
while the 320 has much bigger 14 inch wheels, and as a result needs a much
bigger wheel opening. The distance between the bonnet ant the bumper bar
is also different between the sedan and the 320, with the bumper on the
320 being at least an inch closer to the ground than the sedan. As a result
the grille on the 320 is taller than the one on the sedan. Inside the cabin
the dash is essentually the same as the sedan, but slight differences in
their mounting points and the location of the column change gear lever
mean that they won't interchange, even though they at first appear identical.
Mechanically the 320 was very similar to the 223. It used the 1189cc 60hp
E-1 engine, and continued to use the 4 speed column change gearbox with
synchro on 2nd, 3rd and 4th gears. The suspension design is pretty much
the same as the 223, though it does use a different chassis. All 1962 models
have the E-1 "Mark 2" engines, which are stamped with engine numbers from
152700 to 280169. These use a bypass type lubrication system, the oil filter
housing is cast into the engine block and the filter faces downwards. Camshaft
oil pump/distributor drive cog has 10 teeth. The tappet/valve cover is
held down by two large nuts on the to of the cover. The oil cap has a wire
conecting it to the tappet/valve cover. (Earlier E-1 Mark 1 engines from
000001 to 152699 have offset connecting rods with bearings are 1 inch wide.)
While the sedan and the 320 may look very similar they are
in fact very different in their mechanical design. The two have completely
different chassis. The sedan has a double unequal length front wishbone
front suspension design while the 320 has a torsion bar front suspension.
None of the steering and suspension parts interchange between the two.
While the 320's old fashioned styling may have been something
of a flaw at the time, it is an absolute bonus for the 320 today.
The 320 is rare in that it is the only vehicle of it's kind that
combines that old school charm with modern 1960s technology. It may look
more like a 1950s Morris Minor, but thanks to it's modern synchromesh gearbox,
big brakes and responsive little engine it felt more like a 1960s sedan.
This is the main reason why the 320 is so popular today with restorers
and collectors. It is an old school classic that is still fun to drive.
The 1962 model Datsun 320 was in production until August
1962, when it was replaced with the slightly updated 1963 model 320.
A sales brochure for the Datsun 320 truck.
Length - 4185mm
Width - 1515mm
Height - 1505mm
Wheelbase - 2470mm
Weight - 945kg
Top speed - 120kph
Transmission - Column change
4 speed, synchro on 2nd, 3rd and 4th.
Model - E-1
Capacity - 1189cc
Bore & Stroke 73x71mm
Power - 60bhp@5000rpm
Compression - 8.2 : 1
Carburettor - Nikki 2D-30C
dual throat down draught
Final drive - 5.143:1