Some of us are old enough to remember the "Datsun" 520, 620 and 720 pickups. During my University of Oregon years in the late 'seventies (graduated in 1980), I recall the rugged mini-Datsun pickups all over the Pacific Northwest. Nissan Frontier and Titan pickup owners might find the name strange, but Nissan kept the Datsun moniker on U.S. models into the first 4x4 mini-pickup years.
The first Nissan-Datsun 4x4s were a groundbreaking design. Toyota had built its first 4x4 mini-truck around a scaled down Land Cruiser layout, with live beam axles front and rear. This was 1979, and Nissan faced a choice: Use beam front and rear axles, like a scaled down Nissan Patrol approach, or do IFS at the front with half shafts.
Ford launched its Twin-Traction Beam front suspension in 1980, and it's not surprising that Nissan opted for an IFS. The design was unique but not to Nissan. Datsun Z-cars had used an IRS drive axle for years, and this could be flipped over and put at the front of the Datsun 4x4 pickups, adding steerable knuckles.
IFS was advanced but did not stand alone for long. By 1983, G.M. S/T 4x4 trucks sported IFS front driving axles, and the trend continued. While the Toyota mini-pickup became the iconic 4x4, there are many early Datsun 720 4x4s still active...
Datsun 4x4, Nissan Hard Body, Titan and Frontier pickup owners are encouraged to share their experiences, technical questions and upgrades—right here at this forum. Join us, we'd enjoy hearing from early Datsun IFS 4x4 truck owners. After all, you're part of the growing Nissan legacy!