In August of 1989 I was starting my final semester in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Arizona and starting to look for a professional position. With a real job, where I had to dress professionally, I was going to need reliable transportation that didn’t expose me to the elements when the weather wasn’t ideal.
My sister had bought a Nissan pickup the year before and it was serving her well. My credit union (the same one that financed my motorcycle and approved me for a credit card to mail order parts for the Jeep) offered an attractive rate and shortly before my 26th birthday I bought my fourth brand new vehicle.
My 1989 was gray like my sisters 1988 but it didn’t have a cap over the bed. Its others distinguishing feature were “horse” stickers on both doors. Those stickers were the signature of Thoroughbred Nissan in Tucson where I bought the truck. My sister likes horses so I asked for an extra set to mail to her.
Gene Liu in his COAL – Flashback – The Cars Of My Childhood 1 – 1977 Dodge Aspen SE – Peak MOPAR Malaise Machine post said that his dad was “always buying the cheapest loss-leader car on the lot”. I guess in the ’80’s that was me as well. All four new vehicles I bought in that decade were the lowest cost examples in town (including the 1982 Rampage with its custom paint job). But for the crash damage it suffered I probably would have kept the Rampage until its wheels fell off. With 88,000 miles on it you could probably say that I nearly kept the Honda Silverwing until it was ready for a junkyard. The CJ7 became unaffordable when I unexpectedly transitioned out of the Navy. This Nissan pickup was innocuous and reasonably affordable, but living in Los Angeles was expensive.
Around the time that my Jeep moved to the museum my brother (who was at NAS Alameda in the Navy) bought his first new car, a 1991 Eagle Talon TSI. While I was making good money for a first year engineer, my brother had a much nicer 1986 Toyota pickup that he longer needed (next weeks COAL) and I wouldn’t have a monthly payment so I bought it from him and the Nissan found a new owner (who claimed to be Steven Spielbergs neighbor).
There were so many small pickups like your and your sister’s back in the 1980s. Many were “strippers” (that’s what I always called them) like yours. I can’t recall if the two that we had back then even had radios. If they did, they were definitely a step up from many that I saw. At least one of ours had a cap just like your sister’s. The second one may have as well…at least on the original bed, before I replaced that due to the fact that the bed had rusted through in its first couple of years on the truck.
All that said, I still feel that there would be a place for a small, simple, inexpensive truck like this (no cap) in my driveway. Maybe something electric though.
Thanks for the memories!
I recently owned a very clean 1992 4×4 single cab D21 as my regular vehicle. Nice little truck for what it was, if you wanted something like a cj5 with a truck bed. It was not good with wind.
Those D21s used to be everywhere in the southwest when I lived there, maybe they still are. I took one north with me when I left AZ for Iowa in 2008, a 96 4×4. It was a wonderful truck that I regretted selling so when I low mile, clean 96 2wd Hardbody popped up locally, I just had to buy it. Also a great truck, also regret selling that one!
As I recall there was a delay getting these to market here in the US, or perhaps just California, and maybe only the V6 version. I really wanted one to replace my 720 Nissan/Datsun, but despite having been announced they weren’t in dealerships. I bought a Ford Ranger instead; a fine truck but I wonder if I would have been happier with the Nissan. Still lots of them running around here, many working for a living with landscapers.
My first new car was a 1985 Nissan pickup. Also a base model, but I added a cheap aluminum canopy.
That 2.4 and standard 5spd were a good combo.
I used that little truck to drive back and forth from Seattle to Iowa City a few times. Never had a problem crossing Snoqualmie Pass fully loaded with my worldly possessions. I miss that little beast.
I’m still loving my little Ranger trucklet .
I wish I could have afforded one like this but new or used they’re normally premium priced hereabouts .