HOT RIDE: DATSUN SUNNY Words Dan Bevis. Photography Mark Riccioni – No Trucks Given
TRUCK ME MEGUIAR’S MINT SUNNY PICKUP
If you take a map of any British town and draw a straight line across it from one side to the other, you’ll meet certain constants. Regardless of the angle, or indeed the town, your line will almost certainly pass through a backstreet tyre fitter with a smattering of grubby TSW five-spokes nailed to the wall, and a closed-down motor factors with whitewashed windows that’s long since succumbed to the viral spread of out-of-town Halfords megastores. It will pass through a dozen basic-spec Ford Focuses with three wheel trims and fuel stains around the filler, a greyscale kaleidoscope of panel vans, and a couple of shiny new Audi A5s in Ibis white, trying to pretend that they don’t have a telltale TDI badge on their pert, angular rumps.
What it won’t pass through, however, is a Hakosuka. In fact, you could spend all day drawing intersecting lines across a map of the British Isles and find yourself with nothing in the way of Hakos. You’ll simply have a slightly numb feeling that your time could have been better spent achieving other things, plus the faint pang of guilt that comes with having pointlessly ruined a perfectly good map. The Hakosuka, you see, is not something often found upon this green and pleasant land.
Some of you may well be scratching your heads at this point, wondering what exactly a Hakosuka is. The detectives among you will probably have deduced that it has something to do with the rather aggressive machine gazing back at you from these shiny pages, and that’s certainly a logical conclusion to draw. ‘Hakosuka’, in fact, is a nickname for the C10 generation of Nissan’s fabled Skyline, built from 1968-1972; it translates as ‘box skyline’ (lower case, as ‘suka’ is a contraction of ‘sukairain’, meaning the actual geographic skyline rather than Nissan’s brand name). Model nerds will tell you that the Gran Turismodarling GT-R variant is code-named KPGC-10, and they’ll also tell you that the thing you’re looking at here isn’t actually a Hakosuka at all. Not by a long shot. You’ve been chasing a wild goose up a blind alley. What this actually is, you see, is a Hakotora. Or, more specifi cally (and slightly confusingly), it’s really a Datsun Sunny pickup.
Yep, you’re right to be confused. The machine you’re seeing is a custom creation, an entity unique in these isles, and it’s the handiwork of detailing superheroes Meguiar’s and their merry band of skilled affiliates. Regular readers may recall the company’s bagged Ford Crown Victoria cop car, which we featured back in 2016: “That was our first ever demo car in the UK, and we wanted to build something fun that appealed to a wide audience, but kept true to our American roots,” says brand representative Tom Clarke. The next demonstrator the company built was a gorgeous old Ford Econoline van in pure white, which you’ve probably seen out and about on the show scene. This retro Datsun, though, is very much not an American Ford. “We got the green light to build our third promotional car and, as ever, we set out with a similar thought: ‘something different’… something that’s fun and represents our brand well,” says Tom. “The previous two cars were American, and we wanted to do something JDM so we could have a bit of fun with it! We remembered falling in love with the original converted Hakatora pickup, a white one showcased at SEMA a few years back, and after some research we tracked down the creators of the kit, 09racing, and got in touch with them.”
The white pickup in question popped up in 2015, wearing the 09racing front-end conversion kit along with wide Volk wheels and a carbon fibre bed. It sent ripples through the scene, but it’s not something that’s occurred to anyone in the UK to continue the theme of… until now, that is. The Meguiar’s team brief of ‘something different’ was bang-on here – a car that no one on the UK show scene would have seen in person, given a variety of unique twists to make this JDM/USDM concept a truly UK-style build. A showcase for the detailing brand’s products, as well as the expertise of a variety of homegrown British aftermarket specialists. And so the Meguiar’s Hakotora concept was born.
“After some internet trawling, we stumbled across a company in Middlesbrough who solely import Japanese cars,” Tom recalls. “They deal mostly in weird and wonderful stuff, and they had a couple of the Sunny pickups in stock – so we drove the three-odd hours up there and did the deal.”
Impressively, the time span between sourcing the Sunny and completing the build was just three weeks – not because they had any intention of rushing it, but because that was how long it was until Players Classic, and they’d chosen that as the showcase to debut the build. “Everyone was pushed to the max,” says Tom. “This has been the most complex of all three builds; the 09racing Hakotora kit itself, while a really good kit compared to stuff I’ve seen in the past, is fibreglass and this always needs some attention when bolting things together.”
You’ll spot that the entire front end of the Sunny has had a Hako transplant, to the extent that most people assume it’s a genuine Skyline that’s been converted into a pickup. Reflex Auto Design were the guys charged with the task, and they’ve done an outstanding job – the fi t and finish is exemplary. As well as the nose job, the pickup’s also received rear arch flares, and of course some gleaming world-class paintwork. Much like with the Crown Vic project, black was chosen simply because it’s a pain in the arse to keep black cars clean, and as such it’s a really good showcase of Meguiar’s products!
With the body taken care of, The Install Company set about custom-fitting the air-ride system. You don’t just buy an Air Lift kit for a Sunny pickup off the shelf, so there was all sorts of fabricating and customising involved – the truck now wears custom front struts and a tri-linked rear axle, with the bags running 3P management. And, of course, with big arches and air-ride, you need the right rims as the final piece of the chassis puzzle, something which the guys at Rota Wheels were more than happy to sort: the Hakotora sports 14in AutoStar Kanji wheels – an impressive 9in wide all round. “The Air Lift installation did cause Phil some headaches, but he’s used to working on unusual vehicles and making them sit and ride their absolute best; it’s fun for him,” Tom grins. “It wasn’t plain sailing for Reflex or The Install Company, but the reason we work closely with both of them is the end results! We can’t thank them enough for going above and beyond the call of duty to make everything happen.”
Trucks are utilitarian things, and you’d expect the inside of an old workhorse to be a bit ropey – not this one. This vehicle was always intended to be a showpiece, so you’ll find more of the team’s unique twists inside. The seats are Cobra Nogaros which have, in an inspired move, had their centres trimmed in Porsche’s iconic and very retro Pasha material. But instead of laying it straight, like normal, they’ve twisted the pattern to give a JDM flavour.
Genius. Streamline Carbon crafted some custom carbon fibre doorcards, and Banbury Flocking Services took care of flocking the dash. Don’t go thinking it’s all show and zero function though; if the Meguiar’s guys fancy chopping down some trees and hauling them out of the forest, the Hakotora’s pickup bed has been treated with Raptor Tough paint and sports a Pro-Net cargo net.
So, the truck looks awesome, it’s crammed with expertly installed premium parts, and it’s like nothing else in the UK. What about the elephant in the room, then – that diddy 1200cc A12 motor? “Oh, don’t worry about that,” Tom laughs. “That lump’s going to be enhanced, or maybe replaced with big boosted power, or perhaps a nat-asp screamer… whichever way, rest assured that after the show season we’ll be giving this little truck some power!”
Job done, it seems. The team have produced a unique, peculiar, jaw-dropping, show-stopping, internet-breaking project that works as an incredibly effective promo tool as well as a full-on baller cruiser. Most people have no idea what it is. And the guys didn’t have to destroy a single map either.
TECH SPEC: DATSUN SUNNY
STYLING: Datsun Sunny pickup; 09racing Hakotora kit (full front-end conversion), rear arch flares, relocated wing mirrors, Raptor Tough bed paint and Pro-Net cargo net
TUNING: 1.2-litre A12 four-cylinder, four-speed manual
CHASSIS: 9x14in AutoStar Kanji wheels, Air Lift suspension with 3P management, custom front struts; tri-linked rear axle
INTERIOR: Cobra Nogaro seats with twisted Porsche ‘Pasha’ centres; Momo/Illest steering wheel, Kenwood KDC-W707 headunit, custom carbon fibre doorcards, flocked dash
THANKS: The Install Company, Reflex Auto Design – www.reflexautodesign.com, Air Lift Performance – www. airliftperformance.com, Rare Rims – www.rarerims. co.uk, Cobra Seats – www.cobraseats.com, Kenwood – www.kenwood-electronics.co.uk, Raptor Coatings – www.raptorcoatings.com and Banbury Flocking – www.banburyfl ockingservices.com
You won’t see another one of these babies rollin’ in the UK.
Cheeky GT-R badge adds to the confusion. Cobra seats are bespoke, of course.
“Something different… something that’s fun and represents our brand well”
9in wide AutoStars are made for this sexy trucker.
Mr Simpson has a polite message…
A conscious decision was made to twist the Porsche Pasha centres for a JDM effect.