Datsun 320 Truck

1962 320 Model

 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.


Model Variations


Datsun 320

The 320 was the standard truck version. It's cabin section was seperate to the cargo section, with about an inch gap between the two. It has short doors. It was also available as a cab/chassis version without the steel cargo section, which allowed the buyer to fit his own body.  


Datsun N320

The N320 was a 'styleside' body version of the 320. The N320 has a one piece body. The cabin and the cargo sections are joined together, there is no gap between them.
The N320 has doors that are a couple of inches longer than the 320.
The back of the roof has a different profile and is cut off more squarely than the 320. The gutter rail at the back of the roof is mounted high and is heavilly curved. The gutter is about two inches above the rear windscreen at it's highest point. 


Datsun U320

The U320 is a 4 seat version of the N320 with a smaller cargo area. It has a one piece body, the cabin and the cargo sections are joined together, there is no gap between them.
The U320 has doors that are a couple of inches longer than the 320.
The front bench seat has a one piece base and a 2 piece backrest. Each side of the backrest hinges both forward and towards the middle to allow access to the rear seat.


Datsun V320

The V320 is a light van version of the N320.
The V320 was marketed as either a light van, a delivery van or as a heavy duty station wagon. It had seating for 5 people, but the reat bench seat would fold down to give it a full length flat cargo area.
It was similar in appearance to the WP311/WP312 Datsun Bluebird Wagon of the same era. The Bluebird Wagon had 5 doors and was based on the lighter sedan chassis with double wishbone front suspension. The V320 was a 3 door that was based on the 320 chassis, giving it the same height adjustable torsion bar front suspension, and load carrying capacity, as the 320 Pickup. The ride quality and handling was not as good as the Bluebird Wagon though.
The V320 has doors that are a couple of inches longer than the 320.
The front bench seat has a one piece base and a 2 piece backrest. Each side of the backrest hinges both forward and towards the middle to allow access to the rear seat.

1962 Datsun 320 Specifications

Length - 4185mm
Width - 1515mm
Height - 1505mm
Wheelbase - 2470mm
Weight - 945kg
Top speed - 120kph
Transmission - Column change 4 speed, synchro on 2nd, 3rd and 4th.

Engine Specifications

Model - E-1
Capacity - 1189cc
Bore & Stroke 73x71mm
Power - 60bhp@5000rpm
Torque- 67ft/lb@3600rpm
Compression - 8.2 : 1
Carburettor - Nikki 2D-30C dual throat down draught
Final drive - 5.143:1

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