Dreams are nothing more than goals we set in our minds. Sure, they may have the tendency to seem unrealistic and unachievable, but some people will tell you that nothing is impossible if you set your mind to it.
When Erdem Kuskun decided that he wanted to build a Datsun 720 truck in his native Turkey, the fact that he had never even seen one in the flesh or anywhere in his country didn’t phase him one bit. The man behind Juniquedesing, Erdem is no stranger to setting challenging design goals for himself and then turning them into reality.
That’s how he managed to build up his shop and become the sole importer of Liberty Walk in Turkey, before bringing in other brands like Nardi, Work Wheels and now Rocket Bunny.
Wide-body exotics are something that Erdem deals with often, but there was a different type of vehicle that he always wanted to build up. The problem is, Datsun trucks aren’t easy to find in Turkey, especially the 720 he was after.
Most would probably be asking why not just import one from the US, or some other country where they were offered in left-hand drive, and that’s a good question. The problem there is though, doing so would make the vehicle instantly illegal in Turkey. Simply, older cars cannot be imported, registered and used on the roads here.
Not one to give up, Erdem set upon a search that would – after months of trying – take him nowhere. Until one fateful morning, while on his usual daily scour of online resellers and private listings, he came across a Datsun 720. Erdem called the owner straight away, made a deal sight unseen, and didn’t look back.
Well, until the truck showed up at his shop that is. It was in such an average state that Erdem’s wife asked him what on earth he would do with it all, suggesting that using it for a watermelon stand might be the best way to go.
Despite this, Erdem saw it as an opportunity, one that would eventually provide him the truck he’d always wanted, complete with numerous original custom touches.
The only way to go was with full teardown and ground-up restoration, the first modification following rather quickly – a series of quick cuts to remove 17.5-inches of chassis and bed from the rear. The 720 is the biggest of the Datsun trucks, and with this particular one being a single cab version, having such a long loading area at the rear upset the visual balance.
Seeing Erdem’s idea was to solely use the truck as a cruiser and to carry his BMX bike, there was no need to have the drop-down rear gate, so this was sealed up and given a custom flush redesign complete with R33 Skyline sedan taillights.
The original 720 grille and quad headlights remain, but the front end was treated to a bucktooth lip spoiler, a must-have on any kyusha.
And what is a lowered custom truck without proper stance. This comes courtesy of set of Work Equip 40s that are aggressively fitted into the cut and extended wheel arches. Hakosuka-style works flares were then added to complete the look and contain the new wheel and tire combo.
The 720 rides lower at the front, as some suspension travel – and therefore loading capability – has been left for the rear.
At the same time as the truck was being built, Erdem also put together a custom BMX sporting the same color. It’s fixed onto the custom wood-deck inlay on brackets that lock onto the bike’s pegs.
With the two-tone paint and the exterior vision taken care of, attention shifted to the interior.
Setting the overall theme is the Nardi Classic wood-rimmed steering wheel. To ensure continuity in the cabin, Erdem had a wooden shift knob made up to match the wheel, topping it with his shop’s emblem. Next up was the instrument cluster, which was taken apart, cleaned up and customized with machined aluminum bezels.
Custom-trimmed seats and door cards followed, along with an audio system built around Focal speakers.
While performance was never going to be a goal of this truck, having things under-hood match the overall theme was something Erdem wanted to get right.
While the truck was stripped down, the original SD23 diesel engine was brought back to factory-fresh condition. With 73hp to its name, the non-turbo four-cylinder oil burner provides enough go for a chilled cruise, which is all Erdem ever wanted.
Erdem proved that a dream, no matter how hard or unrealistic, can actually be turned into reality of you put your mind to it. He’s now the proud owner of this customized Datsun 720, which may very well be the only one in Turkey. Job well done I say.
Dino Dalle Carbonare
Photos by Yiğit Eken