The Complete Guide to Classic Datsun Cars and Trucks

1958 Datsun Cablight A20

Basic. That is the only word that comes to mind when you see a Datsun A20 Cablight.
 At a time when all the other vehicles in the Datsun range were becoming much more sophisticated and highly detailed, Nissan decided to produce one of the most basic and rudimentary vehicles in their entire history. In the late 1950s several other Japanese car manufacturers such as Suzuki, Cony and Hopestar,  were doing fairly well for themselves building very basic little trucks, and Nissan no doubt thought they could move into this niche market. The Cablight turned out to be a relative success for Nissan, and the A20 was the first of many small trucks of this size, which would eventually evolve into the Datsun Cabstar range in the 1970s.
 The Cablight was an extremely inexpensive vehicle to build. With the exception of the bonnet and roof section, every panel on this little truck was flat, or had only one bend. It's front bumper was nothing more than a piece of metal with two bends in it. The grille was an ungainly one piece pressed steel affair. The vehicle's styling, if the word style could actually be applied to this vehicle, could only be described as unfortunate. It had rear hinged "suicide" doors.
 The minimalist theme continued through to the interior as well. The dash board was a flat sheet of metal with a speedometer and a couple of switches. There was no other gauges, no floor covering, no heater, no hood lining, no sound proofing, no hubcaps, it was little more than a body with an engine.
 Mechanically it was also basic. It's engine was the Datsun B-1 series, which was a modified version of the old D-10 which dated back to the pre-war years. It was an 860cc side valve 4 cylinder engine which produced 27hp. It's final drive was a mind boggling 6.43:1 ratio, giving it a top speed of 75kph. It's gearbox was a floor change 4 speed unit with synchromesh on 2nd, 3rd and 4th gears.
 The A20 was sold only in Japan and Asia, no attempt was made to market it elsewhere. Production of the A20 began in August 1958 and continued through until 1961 when it was replaced by the more modern, but still very basic A120 Cablight.

A sales brochure for the Datsun Cablight A20

1958 Datsun Cablight A20 Specifications  
Length - 3720mm   
Width - 1603mm   
Height - 1800mm   
Wheelbase - 2220mm   
Weight - 850kg  
Top speed - 75kph

Transmission - Floor change 4 speed

Engine Specifications 
Model - B-1 
Side Valve 4 Cylinder 
Capacity - 860cc   
Bore & Stroke 60x76mm   
Power - 27hp@5200rpm   
Torque - 5.5kg/m@2400rpm   
Compression - 6.7 : 1   
Carburettor - Single throat down draught 

Final drive - 6.43:1 


Model Variations
Datsun Cablight A20 
The truck version, a two seater with a 2100mm x 1603mm cargo tray. The A20 was also available with a steel covered cargo area and also with a removable canvas cover.
Datsun Cablight VA20 Delivery Van  
 A delivery van version was also introduced shortly after the truck. It was available as a 2 seater van, or as either a 4 seat or 5 seat passenger vehicle.
Datsun Cablight Double Cab  
Photos A 4 seat double cab version with two seperate seats in the back, or a 5 seat version with a bench seat in the back was also built. These trucks had a considerably smaller 1321mm long cargo area.
Datsun A20 Update  
Sometime around 1960 the A20 had a minor update. The only significant change it this time was the addition of a slightly less ugly grille.

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