CC On-The-Go Outtake: 1982 Datsun 720 (Turbo?) Diesel Pickup

As I pulled up to a light last week, I spied a heavily laden little brown Datsun pickup in the adjoining lane so immediately whipped out my phone to start taking pictures before the light changed.  Although I had the presence of mind to zoom in before shooting, right after I took the first picture, a large truck rolled up behind him and blocked my view, but not before I realized this was a now-rare Diesel version of the little truck.

Right before the big truck rolled up behind my subject I tried to zoom back out a bit and the above is my result.  No better, actually worse.  I figured when the light changed I’d have my last chance.

As the light in my (right turn) lane changed I had a very short chance to get a third picture and did so as another large truck was rolling up behind me and I needed to get moving but then I got all excited when I noticed the “turbo” script on the side of the bed.  I was aware of the Diesel, but I was not aware that there was a Turbo version and can’t seem to find any info whatsoever on one, either here on CC or anywhere else.

Everything I see makes it appear to be a either a late-intro 1981 or more likely a 1982 “Deluxe Li’l Hustler Diesel” trim level with the chrome bumper with rub strip from the accessory catalog.  In 1983 the diesel was available in the Long Bed only and would/should have said Long Bed on the right lower edge of the tailgate.  And in 1984 the bed changed.

So, was there such a thing as a TurboDiesel or is this something like putting an AMG badge on a 240D?  The stripe and script look very early ’80’s Datsun and not obviously added on, the shot above is a zoomed/cropped version of the third picture.  With only 61hp on tap from the 2.2l Diesel engine I suppose anything would help the driver’s confidence, the stickers would be worth at least ten hp and if it was painted red maybe another five.  Brown probably removes five…  I was also trying to get a closer look at that awesome early ’80’s fiberglass camper shell, I love those stripes on it.

I got so excited to get the money shot as I pulled up next to it that I have to admit I crumbled under the pressure and while trying to hold the phone and take a better shot with one fat thumb, start to move as well as execute my right turn all with a truck about to run over me, I ended up with my own little Dennis Weaver in Duel moment with a great shot of nothing but my side view mirror starring the big rig that was behind the Datsun…Oh well, either way the old Datsun trucks were always handsome little things, and this one is clearly still hard at work, I imagine the camper shell is covering a full load of…something, the way the springs look pretty much compressed onto the bump stops.  But was there a Turbo?