Back in summer, I heard a story about a Finnish guy who washes his car with WD40. It sounded odd, but there was method behind the madness.
The vehicle in question was this 1976 Datsun 620 truck. The reason for cleaning it with cans of multi-purpose lubricant is that its owner, Tuomo Valkkio, left the old Japanese pickup in bare steel.
Tuomo describes the vehicle as ‘brutal’, and I think it’s a close description of the owner as well: he’s a heavy metal fan, a skateboarder, and his employment in the steel facade industry only adds to the mix.
Let’s stick with the heavy metal analogy and look closer at the machine…
In 2013, Tuomo had just finished building a drift-spec Nissan S15, so the thought of tackling another project car anytime soon hadn’t even crossed his mind. Then suddenly, a broken down 620 appeared in the classifieds, and I’m sure you can figure out the rest. Tuomo worked on the Datsun for a year, making a restomod pickup out of it, but he eventually sold it to an overseas buyer.
The thing is, during the process Tuomo accumulated a lot of parts, even buying two more trucks and a pair of Nissan Bluebirds. Somewhere along the way, he picked up a set of 18-inch Advan SA3R wheels, too.
Tuomo got a lot of enjoyment out of building the first 620 minitruck, so he ultimately decided to build another, this time promising himself that he’d hang on to it.
To start, he sat the four Advans on the ground and started mock-fitting them to one of his spare 620s. Soon enough he had a bagged frame and the wheels properly attached.
A laser cutter was used to produce a number of parts for the custom-made double-wishbone front suspension, as Tuomo says, “from Autodesk to reality.” The short 7-inch shocks came from a truck’s cabin, and the brakes are total mash-up, featuring spindles from a Nissan Cedric, FC3S Mazda RX-7 calipers, and Nissan 300ZX discs.
The rear suspension is based on a triangulated 4-link system. The bag brackets were custom-made, and the link bars are thick heavy-duty metal. The 10-inch rear wheels needed to fit inside the fenders, so the axle got the saw treatment and was re-splined after becoming five inches narrower. Tuomo wanted people to notice the suspension and wheels first, so all components are on show through the bed floor.
The pickup has a 3-inch body drop, with the cab and custom bed lowered to the same level as the frame’s lowest spot. The whole body rests on the ground when the air bags are fully deflated.
A lot of custom sheetmetal work went into this build, with the floors, tunnel and rocker panels all replaced. Bead-rolled shapes and figures on fresh steel is a theme continued right throughout the 620. The finishing touch was an aluminum dash and a pair of seats that deserve a special mention.
These Nordic-design chairs would be a nice choice for a kitchen or possibly a garden, bit inside the car they look very exotic. And technically there are – they came from IKEA.
The front bumper was modified to continue the V-shape design, and for that reason the license plate indent was removed. A rear bumper never really existed on these pickups, so a custom aluminum one with slim LED lights was fabricated. The headlights also received an upgrade from Dapper Lighting.
Mechanically, it’s a straight-forward choice. Tuomo used an engine from one of his spare 910 Bluebirds, bringing some OHC 1.8-liter L-series power to the party. The engine, backed up by a 5-speed Datsun dogleg transmission, is mounted as low and as rearward as possible in the bay.
It’s been three years since this modified pickup – now titled Valkenstein – moved under its own power for the first time, and since then it’s been driven and perfected. It’s really only by chance that Tuomo ended up with a 620 in the first place, but we’re glad he did.