COAL: 1986 Mazda B2000 – the Mazsun, or is it Datsda?

After owning the Cavalier for a few months, it was clear that it wasn’t the vehicle for me.  I had the itch for a small truck, and, after parting with the Chevy, a little truck was found in my price range.  It was to be a bumpy ride.

A local neighbour had it for sale.  It was a 1986 Mazda B2000, regular cab 5 speed with a nice burgundy interior.  It seemed to work OK, and I bought it.  I was in grade 12 at the time, and wanted a truck for the winter so I could store my old Chevy truck.  It seemed to fit the bill…good on fuel, looked acceptable to my 18-year old eyes.

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The picture at the start of the post is my actual truck – the picture above is very similar to it.  It hails from a time when Japanese interiors were really a step apart from their domestic competitors  – the look and feel of it was really nice to my eyes.  The knobs and controls were well labelled, everything felt solid.  The inside had a nice mix of vinyl and cloth.  Look at the cloth inserts on the doors! One thing these things shared with their American counterparts was the variety of colours available.  Nowadays it seems like beige, black or grey are the only colours available.  It makes me a bit sad.

The problems started showing up not long after I bought it.  The engine used oil.  A lot of oil.  Something in the order of 2 to 3 litres for every tank of fuel.  A fix of sorts was found – I got a deal on a 12-pack of Bardahl – it slowed down the oil consumption a lot.  Once the cold weather arrived, the carburetor started icing up, and stranding me on the side of the road, and I would have to wait till it thawed out.  Then the engine died totally – it got to the point it didn’t have enough compression to start.  I should have given up on it at this point, honestly.  I bought another car – a Pontiac Acadian – for $225 – for the winter – more on that next week.

Me, proud of my new acquisition circa 1994

Spring 1995 – I had graduated high school, and had a summer job refinishing wooden desks at a school in town.  The Acadian was sent away for parts, and the 1970 Chevy was put back in service.  I wanted to fix the Mazda for travelling to university in the winter.  As it happened, one of the guys that worked for my father gave me a truck – an early ’80’s Datsun 720.  The cab was absolutely rotten on it, but it had a good engine and transmission.  I’d tried to source an engine for the Mazda, but it seemed this generation of truck had a fault with the rings or something – I can’t remember exactly – so, I decided to try and install the Datsun engine and transmission in the Mazda.

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The Mazda engine and 5-speed was pulled out, and the Datsun 8-plug engine and 4-speed was put in place.  To my surprise, the Datsun engine sat right on the Mazda’s mounts!  I had to make a small plate to line the Datsun transmission mount to the Mazda’s crossmember.  A driveshaft was made up, and the truck was mobile again.  It was much peppier after the transplant, and quite reliable for the winter I used it.  It was also quite hard on fuel, as there was now no overdrive gear.  The box was also a bit worse for the wear, so the wooden box was removed from the Datsun, and put on the Mazda.

The trip back and forth to the university was too much for the tired 327 in the Chevy, so the B2000 was put back in service.  It was surprisingly reliable for a somewhat random collection of parts.  Once spring of 1996 rolled around, I put the truck up for sale – and a retired gent bought it for going fishing.  A perfect end for a less than perfect truck.