SLAYING A FICKLE CREATURE: LANDON BROWN’S 1973 DATSUN 620
The internet has helped turn the automotive hobby into quite a fickle creature these days. Owners vie for their 15 seconds of fame trying to score that “feature” on the million different regurgitated Instagram pages out there, which in reality brings very little satisfaction that a true passion for our beloved craft ought to. The satisfaction is intended to be about walking to your garage, to a vehicle that you get excited to drive. It’s meant to be a machine that you tediously molded into a piece of art, that you are proud of, no matter what the current public opinion is. It’s about a connection when you are behind the wheel and an escape from the lingering stress of earthly life. It is brotherhood and camaraderie, not just getting sloshed and raising havoc on hosting towns. This hobby we have come to love is about the laid back times with friends both old and new, while you share your experiences and passions.
Photos: Zach Lenfesty | Words: Josh Wilson & Michael Phillips
Coming across a hidden gem like this traditionally curated Datsun is a rarity in a world which belongs to a vast network of CPUs in all shapes and sizes, seemingly reigning supreme. However, when you do find such a modest build and owner that are both “untainted” by this technological evolution, it’s a relieving breath of fresh air. We can still remember the very first encounter we had with Landon Brown’s Datsun 620 almost a year ago now, although it feels like it was just yesterday. The first thought wasn’t about any single detail, but rather was a feeling of shock and awe, that we hadn’t seen this machine plastered all over the over saturated social media “stance” pages and that we would be the first to bring this wildly creative build out from its modest shell.
Landon owes his passion in import cars to his brother, Logan. When he spent his free-time spinning wrenches on his brother’s EG Honda Civic, Landon became deeply enthralled and inspired. This new found interest led him to owning an EG of his own. His knack for vintage JDM vehicles didn’t arise until after getting tired of the unwanted attention (and often unwarranted stereotype), that a Honda can conjure. Even though Landon wasn’t hunting for a Datsun specifically, fate brought him to look at a 1973 620, which was being sold by the original owner’s daughter. The vehicle had all the paperwork to back up its claim of authenticity.
The change in daily life that 20 years between the origins of two cars can result in, is quite astounding. Nevertheless, Landon made this change, exchanging a Honda badge for a Datsun nameplate. In response to the dramatic alteration he said, “It was very intimidating but I quickly realized it was the best decision I would ever make.” From phase-1 of his build, Landon had no specific direction or plan for the newly acquired truck, except to enjoy it. However, after a few small modifications, inspirations had begun to direct his creative path. They laid hold of the direction he wanted to continue toward, and the build was soon full steam ahead. Landon’s heaviest influence was the Japanese car culture; specifically the Chibraragi Style Kaito Racers, which found their way into the truck’s DNA. This particular JDM subculture has left a lasting impression on Landon and continued to do so as he researched other builds which reflected this particular style and influence.
When it comes to the exterior of this 620, most of its unique coloration and patina has either been earned by the hands of time, or created by Landon’s own hands. This Datsun sports 40 years worth of paint jobs, wear, tear and occasional rust. Most are true badges of honor and marks of heritage that cannot be replicated. The biggest attention grabbers are the custom metal fender flares that Landon built by means of trial and error:
“I purchased some stainless sheetmetal and began trying to build my own fenders. Wasting multiple sheets of metal, I was determined to figure it out. The joy of my truck is that I never wanted to make one single part of it ‘perfect.’ My fenders have imperfections but to me it blends perfectly with the rust and 5 layers of paint on the truck.”
Now some would quiver at the thought of countless hours spent cursing, redoing, and wasting materials, but for Landon that is what he has enjoyed most about this build (so far). “Every time I had to get creative and make something fit or build something from scratch, such as my ‘works’ style fenders, those have been my favorite times with this truck.” Not only can Landon take pride in the fact that he built them with his own bare hands, but it also gives his Datsun a truly unique look, still marked with heritage. Any true automotive enthusiast can’t help but smile at this kind of rare creation.
Other areas of the truck have been kept simple, like the stock L16 motor, with a progressive Weber carburetor and custom exhaust. Inside, the interior was stripped out and coated with bed-liner paint. A pair of Corbeau GT buckets made their way into the cab that sit the driver behind a vintage Nardi Personalsteering wheel, red chinchilla dash mat and homemade pool ball shift knob. It might not be the look that some are attracted to, but for Landon it hits right on the mark of the subculture he had envisioned.
Automotive enthusiasts have a tough go at avoiding pigeon-holes of specific makes and styles. As an answer to this potential problem, Landon has created something fresh and original without regard to the opinions of onlookers. That is something that we really admire here at Slam’d Mag. This unique look has led to Landon’s unmitigated enjoyment. When people see it at shows or just on the streets, serving its daily-driver duties, they express their peaked interest. Landon shared:
“The part I enjoy the most about my truck is the wide variety of people that truly appreciate it. Older folks, younger kids, and people from all walks of life both in or out of the automotive scene seem to appreciate or be drawn to at least one of its characteristics.”
Building what has already been built before is a safe way to ensure approval among the flock; but builds like Landon’s show us that taking the risk of being unique is far more rewarding and enjoyable in the long run. The late nights, busted knuckles and bruised egos, all pale in comparison when taking your own vision out for its maiden cruise and getting that very first thumbs up. Individuals from all genres can be inspired by builds like Landon’s to pursue their own creations and styles. Years of passionate enjoyment will outweigh a potential 15 minutes of fame, because even when the spotlight goes out, a grin will light up your face, every minute spent behind the wheel.