’63 Datsun | NAMED LIL “D”

Tiny But Mighty…

This is Chris Mull’s ’63 Datsun NL320. The NL designates it as a unibody (more specifically, a left-hand drive unibody), with the regular ol’ Datsun 320 having a traditional, yet outrageously ugly, bed (except for yours, Joe Contenta—you get a lifetime pass for all the work you did to yours). The NL320 is, dare I say, beautiful, right from the factory. 

From what Chris tells us, “Approximately 1,000 were produced worldwide between 1963 and 1965. According to the Datsun gurus, only around 200 to 250 are still in existence.”

That’s a pretty rare truck to be cutting up, but that just made it all the more exciting for Chris, who is always up for ruffling some feathers with his builds.

This is actually the second iteration of the truck, which was called Wabi-Sabi (“wisdom in natural simplicity”) in its former life. The previous version was already impressive, with a custom ‘bagged chassis and combination of natural and faux patina over billet wheels. But Chris really wanted to make the truck a lot more refined this time around, and what better way than to do a complete 180 and finish off the truck in glossy black and gray paint? About three years ago, he finally put aside some time to make it happen.

Nissan’s legendary KA24E looks right at home in the engine bay. The 2.4-liter engine was detailed with stainless hardware and given lots of fresh paint.

Accomplishing such a feat would take quite a bit of metalwork since the body wasn’t exactly pristine, but luckily for Chris he found another NL320 on eBay that had some decent sheetmetal on it. So, he bought it sight unseen and took a road trip to northern California to grab it.

’63 DatsunSurgical tools in hand, Chris eviscerated the parts truck of its good metal, and grafted the pieces onto his truck. This included the bedsides, passenger side door and both front fenders, but he also had to fab up new rocker panels, lower doorjambs and the lower section of the tailgate.

He then transported the lil’ Datsun to his place of employment, Treasure Valley Street Rod in Boise, Idaho. Once there, Chris called in some favors from friends Jeff Reed, Jose Ortiz and Jason Lekvold to spend the following two days body working the truck to perfection, after which Danny Strain came in to sand the jambs and window openings. A few coats of primer and lots of block-sanding later, and the truck was ready to wear its fresh, deep black and gray PPG paint job. As an homage to its former patina-styled life, however, the underside of the hood was left as it was.

Factory bench seat notched for shifter
Charley Rowell of Holcomb’s Upholstery did an amazing job with the interior the first time Chris built the truck, so there was no need to redo anything except to freshen up the red painted bits.

When Chris first bought the truck ages ago, it already came with a KA24E single cam engine and 5-speed out of an ’89 Nissan 240SX. With more than twice the horsepower as the original 60hp Nissan E-1 engine, it was a vast improvement. As you can see, it was a tight fit, but with its fresh black and red paint and stainless hardware, it looks right at home!

On either side of the framerails sit 18 and 20-inch Centerline Smoothies with vintage repop Brazilian Datsun hubcaps that came all the way from Peru. The caps didn’t just snap on to the Centerlines from the get-go and had to be attached with a set of Cap Clips from Chad Terhar. Once Chris modified the wheels to accept the caps, he painted the wheel centers gray to match the truck.

While the lil’ pickup isn’t 100% perfect and still has some of what I call ‘Wabi-Sabiness,’ I’m more than happy with the outcome and wouldn’t have it any other way.

From what Chris tells us, “Approximately 1,000 were produced worldwide between 1963 and 1965. According to the Datsun gurus, only around 200 to 250 are still in existence.”

By the time you read this, the Datsun will have debuted at Lone Star Throwdown (LST), where it was up front and center at Hammerd Weekend Wear’s booth. You see, Chris was keeping the truck’s revamp hush-hush until its completion, so aside from a couple of well-cropped Insta photos, very few people knew about it.

Centerline Smoothie billet wheels '63 Datsun“While the lil’ pickup isn’t 100% perfect and still has some of what I call ‘Wabi-Sabiness,’ I’m more than happy with the outcome and wouldn’t have it any other way,” Chris says. “There’s no way the Datsun would be where it is today without all the hard work and help of all the amazing friends who have helped on both the past and present versions of this little guy. I’d like to give a truly heartfelt thank you to all of you, and especially my amazing wife Michelle, my kids, and my family who supported me in everything I do and put up with my automotive addiction.”



Chris “Billy Bob” Mull
Nampa, Idaho
1963 Datsun NL320
Relaxed Atmosphere Truck Club

Chassis & Suspension

  • Custom back-half frame
  • New tubular control arms built by owner
  • Custom triangulated four-link
  • Air Lift Dominator airbags
  • Air Lift P3 air management system
  • 2 Viair 480 compressors
  • 2 3-gallong air tanks
  • Nissan Hardbody front spindles and brakes
  • Datsun 280ZX master cylinder
  • Datsun B210 brake booster
  • Custom driveshaft
  • RCI fuel cell

Wheels & Tires

  • 18- and 20-inch Centerline Smoothie billet wheels
  • 215/35R18 and 235/35R20 Hankook tires
  • Wheel polishing by Paul st Cyr

Engine & Drivetrain

  • Nissan KA24E from ’89 240SX
  • Custom built engine harness
  • Remote oil filter to clear frame
  • Custom air intake by Jeremy Mosle
  • Black paint detail
  • Stainless steel hardware
  • Three-core aluminum radiator
  • 5-speed manual trans from ’89 240SX

Body & Paint

  • Shaved fuel door
  • Shaved antenna
  • Welded seams on tops of fenders
  • Restored grille and moldings
  • Datsun 312 windshield trim
  • Australian market license plate light assembly
  • Painted PPG black and dark gray

Interior & Stereo

  • Upholstery by Charley Rowell at Holcomb’s Upholstery
  • Factory bench seat notched for shifter
  • Red vinyl and ’60s cloth upholstery
  • ’60s Corvette tuxedo carpet
  • Speedhut gauges
  • Datsun 312 Deluxe steering wheel
  • RetroSound Bluetooth head unit


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