Believe it or not, but my family has owned this Datsun 1300 (520) LDV from the first day that it rolled off the showroom floor in 1968. My stepfather bought it brand new for R1 800.00 (approximately $280.00).
I'm not too familiar with it's mechanical history (I'm 25 years old), but I do know that my stepfather, who owned his own Shell service station, overhauled the engine himself in the early 80's. I think he did a pretty good job of it. Whether it's winter or summer, the engine will start after the first turn of the ignition and settle into a very sweet idle without having to use any choke whatsoever. I can't help but liken it to the sound of a sowing machine! It consumes virtually no oil.
Unfortunately I can only speculate at its current mileage, as my father replaced the original mph-speedometer binnacle with a second-hand km/h one, but I suspect it to be in the region of about 300 000 km.
After my stepfather died in 2001, I took over the responsibility of its maintenance. During the past four years I replaced the faulty original Nikki carburetor with a new Weber, an overcharging alternator (I only discovered this fault after the battery exploded!) and the biggest expense overhauling the brake system. I also replaced the dampers (shock absorbers) last year. I was quite surprised when I noticed that the old dampers had the Datsun insignia on them. Needless to say, they had no hydraulic fluid in them whatsoever! Items that need replacing, although not crucial at this stage, are kingpins and certain bushes for the front suspension.
Cosmetically, my father had the Datsun re-sprayed in 1999 in its original colour. I can also boast at the fact that the Datsun shows no sign of rust whatsoever. We live approximately 700 km from the nearest coastline and I can - with quite certainty - say that the Datsun hasn't seen any ocean in its 38 years. I must admit, however, that the seat does show its age. The springs have collapsed to such an extent that one sits virtually on the floor!
The women in my family truly dislike driving the old timer. They can't stop complaining about the harsh ride and its - not too brilliant - braking performance. However, I use the Datsun as my daily commuter. I simply love driving it! Its acceleration is quite astounding considering the 1300 cc engine's 55 BHP. Although I don't use it very often for longer journeys, I have managed an average speed of approximately 130 km/h over a 200 km journey recently. It ran out of breath beyond that velocity. The Datsun's handling is also in another league. I recently drove a 2002 Toyota Hilux LDV and it felt like a ship on a stormy ocean! I'm amazed at how well the Datsun behaves.
I haven't seen another 520 Datsun in all this time. We've had countless offers to sell the Datsun, even one of R15 000.00 ($2 300.00)! However, given its reliability, inexpensive maintenance cost and, to a bigger extent, sentimental value, the old Datsun will remain with us until its final days.
P.O. Box 12247
Republic of South Africa