The Good Intentions Of A Datsun 1200
Choosing One’s Path

Jesse Murphy chose to go against the grain of his V8 family.

The West Australian resident is the type of guy that likes to do things his way – and that way is different. It takes a brave man to step up, move out of the comfort zone and build cool things in WA.

Some people play it too safe, and well, that can be boring. They won’t upset anyone, but at the same time, you won’t inspire anyone either.

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I am not a fan of playing it safe myself; I like the risk takers, the thinkers and the individuals. When you talk to Jesse about cars, you can see the passion in his eyes and in the way that he speaks. He lives and breathes the damn things and in particular, Japanese stuff. That in itself is a bold move for a 24-year old kid whose father is mad-keen on V8s and with a brother who pushes a pretty serious old school Monaro too.

For Jesse though, the old school Japanese stuff is the cream.

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“I went to Powercruise with my old man one year, and while I knew that I liked cars, I wasn’t too sure exactly what I was into. Later during the day, there was a Datsun 1200 ute that instantly got my attention, and I started asking dad about that. He didn’t seem too impressed at the time but I told him, that is what I wanted, so that is what I went and bought,” laughed Jesse.


Well, the ute that Jesse bought was as rough as guts, but he reckoned it was the shit – that was the main thing right? “The motor that is in the 1200 sedan actually came from the ute. I built it up myself, so that really was the best part of it. The biggest problem about the ute is that I am pretty tall so I just didn’t fit it comfortably enough, so I decided to build the 1200 sedan. This one came up pretty cheap, so I picked it up as soon as I saw it.”

Making a Go of Things

The new sedan was in much better nick than the old ute, but it was no means the sort of standard that Jesse wanted, so off to the local panel shop it went. “I got the panel work sorted out, and at the same time, I had the guards pumped a little, shaved the battery tray and filled most holes in the engine bay for a cleaner look. I wanted the car to look super-smart, and after tossing around some colour ideas, I kept coming back to white. You can’t go wrong with a classic white,” explained Jesse.

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datto front

Adding a whole-heap of JDM style is the Hako style front lip, the stainless window visors and of course those sexy SSR XR4 Longchamp wheels with the slightly stretched 165/55/r13 Accelera rubber. Inside the cabin, Jesse has managed to keep things classy and tasteful with just a few trick touches like the removable Grip Royal King wheel and Circuit Soul shifter. More Japanese influence is apparent with the inclusion of the Takata harnesses, and the hydraulic handbrake hooked up to the factory lever.

It’s Not About The Power, Trust Me

That motor that Jesse pulled from the ute is a good bit of gear. “Oh yeah, the A15 big block! It goes alright I suppose,” he laughed, continuing “In the Datsun scene, the A15 is the largest motor you can really go with, so it’s the standard joke. The motor is tiny as you can see.”

Jesse had the block bored, decked and acid dipped and then proceeded to fit it with a factory crank wearing shot peened rods with HA16 pistons and Hasting rings. An H89 head has been ported and solid cam slotted into place too. Twin 40mm Solex carbies adorn a Bprojects manifold. Hurricane headers feed the 2-5-inch stainless steel exhaust that has those funky tips aiming sky high on the back end.

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Jesse ditched the old 4-speed box some time ago and replaced it with a 60A 5-speed with an Extreme Heavy Duty organic clutch. A locked H165 diff now resides under the rear. “I went to town with the brakes on the Datto adding custom rear calliper brackets, mounting the hydraulic handbrake to the diff and modifying the front S13 Silvia rotors and hubs. On the back, there are R31 rotors with Commodore callipers.”

The same amount of effort has been applied to the suspension because as we all know, a stance it critical and Jesse is doing it right! Shortened Stanza struts on the front, 2-link lower arms, airbag rear shocks and a few other trick bits get the Datto sitting like Jesse dreamed.

It’s All About The Power, Trust Me
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Jesses’ other project he has been developing over the last year or so is one hell of a ute. “The Rodeo has been a real love/hate build to be honest. It has been something that I have really committed myself to. I ran a 9.9 @ 136mph with the old Nissan RB combo. Now I have stroked the motor, added some nitrous and thrown a much larger bigger turbo on too. The old motor made 620hp@ the tyres and now I have made 1.013hp and that car has run an 8.545 @ 159.4mph on 275 radials. I think it has genuinely shocked a lot of people,” he said.

The best part, Jesse punts the car on the street too and drives the wheels off the thing. If you know anything about the road rules and how active the WA police force are, you can respect just how big his balls are.

Hopefully I can shoot this soon for you all to see right here on Speedhunters…

Jordan Leist
Instagram: jordanleist

Cutting Room Floor
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Jason R. Bondhus

OMG I love small wheels and the cars that go with them.


I wish I knew a picture of my 72 1200 sedan with flares and front competition adjustable suspension


Now these are the cars I enjoy reading about. These are the unsung heroes. Silvias, Z cars, Skylines.. overdone. Tons of people have them due to popularity (yes I know they are good cars). I love the off the wall, cars you never would have thought twice about cars. These are ones I would read about all day.


aaah how i miss my Sunny Truck now. Perfect car, perfect style.



Absolutely stunning.


Does anyone knows.. Are those Cobra Classic buckets?


Loving these little cars


Nice car Jesse! Clean build with the perfect amount of modification. More builds like this please Speedhunters.

Brian E. Spilner

Instant canary. Respect for taking this on the streets.




'Canary' is slang for a yellow sticker or defect notice. Basically if police see something they deem to be un-roadworthy they slap a yellow sticker on you and you have to report to an inspection centre by a certain date to have the car gone over and cleared as being legal.

For example ride height has to be 100mm off the ground from the lowest point of the car. Not sure of the exact rule but visible wheel/tyre poking out of guards is a no-no as well


Ah. It's "pink stickered" here.

god feettin meow



Gorgeous piece of work!