Breathing SR20 Turbo Life Into A Half-Century-Old Bakkie – Speedhunters

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So perfect in fact, that all Ruan has done to the exterior panels is clear-coat them, bringing out what was left of the original blue paint and enhancing the surface rust. For contrast, everything chrome – think front bumper and grill, door handles and side mirror – were painted satin black.

Look close and you’ll see that the 521’s quad headlights have been stealthily replaced with a couple of modern projector units.

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The rear LED tailights are a little more obvious, but they’re not where your eyes fall when viewing the truck from behind.

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That’s because the bed is now home to couple of its most unique features – a fuel cell fashioned from a Castle Lager 50L beer keg and a battery box made from a wooden crate. What’s not to love?!

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At 18×9.5-inch all round, the six-spoke wheels of unknown origin are huge for the Datsun, and therefore will likely divide opinion. But love them or hate them and wrongly or rightly, big rims on small old school Japanese vehicles is a style not uncommon in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, and here they do give the truck a Hot Wheels diecast sort of look, which is cool.

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The interior has seen some more modern touches too – namely a pair of Avcon seats, a suede-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel, and a 7-inch tablet that relays information from the Ecumaster EMU Black engine management system. Ruan built the bolt-in roll cage himself and worked with MRP Motorsport to fabricate the custom aluminium dashboard.

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MRP Motorsport also lent their fabricating touch under the hood, where the internally-stock Nissan SR20DET that’s now swapped in features an MRP custom manifold, down-pipe, fuel rail and radiator. The engine setup was pieced together, installed and tuned by ICE Motorsport, and on a conservative setting is good for 225whp. That’s not a huge number, but it’s plenty for this lightweight little Datsun on the street.

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Highlights include a Mr Turbo GT30 T4 turbocharger, Turbosmart UltraGate 38mm wastegate, front-mount intercooler, GReddy blow-off valve, 90mm throttle body, 1,000cc/min Bosch injectors and the custom rear-side-exit exhaust.

Getting the power to the 255-section rear rubber is a Nissan SR20DET 5-speed gearbox running a four-puck button clutch and an adapted BorgWarner/Dana M75 rear end.

Four-link rear suspension arrangements are common in builds like this one, but Ruan has stuck with the original leaf spring rear setup and torsion bars in the front. During the body-off restoration, everything was given a refresh though. The brakes are a real mishmash of parts – Hyundai H-1 van discs and Mk7 VW Golf GTI callipers up front, Toyota Land Cruiser discs and VW Polo 1.9 TDi callipers out back, along with a Mk6 VW Golf GTI booster.

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Building a truck like this was a long-time dream for Ruan, and the best part for him was having both his father and grandfather heavily involved in the build, making it a real family affair. Ruan says he’s so grateful for his grandfather’s hard work and patience, and his father supported him throughout the entire build, offering up plenty of wisdom along the way as the project came to life in the back of their electrical workshop.

Having a bakkie memory is great, but this is much better.

Brad Lord
Instagram: speedhunters_brad

Photos by Stefan Kotzé
Instagram: stefankotzemedia

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