Every once in a while, custom vehicles that are completely bizarre and blow your mind will pop up in the scene. Scott Rupp's '64 Datsun NL-320 is one of those trucks that'll leave you standing still while scratching your head and questioning what the hell you are looking at. For starters, this truck is a rare, old unibody truck that is one of only 1,200 that were sold in the United States. If that wasn't enough to shock and awe, then take into consideration that this one was customized without the availability of any aftermarket or replacement parts.
Scott first heard about this truck from his friend Cory Scott of Kustom Werx Autobody, who just acquired it through a trade. Once Cory had the truck in his shop, he and Scott started to fix the abundance of rusted-out body panels. After some long hours of making replacement panels, Cory felt that he did not have the time to work on the project and made a trade to transfer ownership. Scott took possession of the Datsun because he knew that the truck had the potential to astonish everyone.
During the time he acquired the project, Scott was working on body-dropping a Nissan Hardbody on a set of 20-inch wheels. He attempted to have it in working condition by the '06 Gator Drag show but did not have enough time to finish and ended up hitching a ride to the show. While attending the event, he noticed DIB Customs was on its way to finishing a Hardbody laying rocker over a set of 22-inch wheels, and he knew that this truck trumped everything he was working for. Although this discovery was upsetting at first, it motivated Scott to sell the Nissan and go full on with the Datsun.
Back in Scott's garage, the rust repair continued. With a lot of damage and no pre-made restoration parts on the market, Scott resorted to alternative sources for replacement pieces. For smaller body sections like the rockers and lower areas of the front fenders, he was able to fabricate and weld in place handmade patch panels. When Scott got to the body line above the rear wheels, he resorted to use the rear quarter panels of an '81 Chevy van that he found in a local junkyard. The truck's metalwork wound up taking 172 hours to return it to a good condition.
With the outer body panels intact, Scott was able to take some measurements for the addition of an airbagged suspension to lay the original frame over a set of 18s and 20s. Like other aspects of the truck, it was better to start off with newer, easy-to-find parts than to go on an endless search for their replacements. Scott decided to use the front 2-inch drop spindles and brakes, as well as a 10-inch narrowed rearend from a '95 Toyota. From there, he was able to make a complete set of control arms up front and a triangulated four-link for the rear. When the chassis was complete, Scott transported it with the original motor and transmission to Cory's shop and had him paint everything a metallic blue.
Well into the winter month of February, Scott set a goal to debut the fully painted truck within two months at the '07 Gator Drag show. There was still an abundance of work to do, and the next step was to straighten the body and have Cory paint it. Then, the original interior was reupholstered, the tubbed bed was covered in a spray-on liner to match the interior color, and the bed was topped off with a custom-made wood floor. The last thing on the list was to clean up the original chrome pieces like the bumpers and grille. Since the truck was pretty complete to start, Scott had to simply re-chrome those pieces.
After getting beat to the punch with the Nissan one year prior, Scott was able to shock everyone with his rare customized Datsun and take home the Best of Show award. Although, midway through the build, Scott saw the GO-EZ Customs Datsun and thought it had spoiled his new project. Instead of losing interest in the truck, he was motivated to finish it rapidly and say that he had the first completed custom Datsun NL-320. At 6 feet, 2 inches, Scott Rupp drove this small truck to our photo shoot, and we can tell you that it was like watching a circus act. The only thing missing was the sound of circus music as he piloted his truck around.