Already the proud owner of a classic ‘Hakosuka’ C10 Skyline, Steve Hemming decided that transforming a Nissan 1200 pick-up to a Hakotora pickup to match the iconic look would make for the perfect addition to his fleet…
Our passions can have wildly different ways of affecting our lives. You and your friends were probably all into a particular TV programme back in your school days for example… but we bet you can remember one of them who always took things to the next level with bedroom wallpaper, a backpack and socks sporting pictures of their on-screen heroes.
It’s probably fair to say this rule applies to RC readers too. When it comes to classic cars, some merely hold a passing interest in this close-knit world, while others live and breathe the old skool scene on a daily basis. Someone who’s very much in that latter camp is Steve Hemming, a man whose love for Japanese motors is increasingly evident with the more time you spend with him.
His garage is stacked with a Subaru BRZ, an R32 Nissan Skyline GT-R and even one of the very few of the holy-grail C10-shape ‘Hakosuka’ Skylines that can be found on British shores right now. His career is equally as relevant to the story too, he owns and runs the Cheltenham-based Hiroboy model shop. It will come as no surprise that their speciality is sourcing rare, Japanese car kits.
We pick up on his story around 18 months ago – a time when Steve decided there was scope to switch-up his boring daily driver to better suit his deep passions. Scouring the website listings on Japanese-based importer, Be Forward, his eyes were caught by one machine in particular. Something that could potentially offer up oodles of practicality for his day-to-day duties, while ticking all the boxes to match the rest of his fleet in the process…
“It was this retro-looking ’92 Datsun 1200 pickup, often referred to as a Nissan Sunny Truck,” he explains. But it wasn’t the old-school styling or modest loading bed that was of most appeal. “Back in 2013, a tuning garage in Japan called 09 Racing started developing a C10 Skyline body conversion kit, this was my ultimate plan from the moment I committed to buying it!”
Liaising with owner Michi of Tochigi-based 09 Racing – a man who speaks brilliant English and was nothing but fantastic help when getting one of the very first of these kits into the UK – it was soon time to head over to BP Motor Bodybuilders for fitment.
Far from just a fresh front grille and set of headlights, the package goes way further in the attempt of making this look as much like a C10 Skyline as physically possible. Utilising the likes of GT-R-esque widened arch extensions, a new front bumper and deeper front splitter it’s comprehensive to say the least. In fact, from dead on, you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference between this mini commercial vehicle and Steve’s genuine coupé back at home.
The exterior was then sprayed in the ever-popular retro cream hue, before Steve applied some choice JDM-tastic stickers to add to the charm. With a red-and-cream theme soon emerging, it’s little surprise to hear that, when ordering up his bespoke Image billet split rims to fill out those arches, he asked for anodised red faces to fit in with the rest of the car.
A subtle drop comes courtesy of some custom coilovers designed specifically for this application by Australia-based Supafatto. Nick Cross, the talented man behind this firm, clearly lives and breathes all things pickup truck, having developed plenty of custom performance parts over the years that have now found their way all across the globe.
The end result is a mini-truck that’s been transformed from a mundane early-nineties load-lugger to one of the most revered sights that British JDM fans will ever have the pleasure of witnessing. At the very least, Steve has certainly achieved his goal of creating a more exciting daily driver, that’s for sure!
Still, with plenty of far more powerful cars already in his ownership, and also conscious of the fact that reliability was of the upmost importance with this project, the pickup retains its dinky 1200cc motor and honest four-speed ‘box for now. That’s with good reason too, both have proven to be as bulletproof as you’d expect. “In time I might put a bigger engine in it, but as it’s mainly used for local trips, maybe not… I guess time will tell,” Steve ponders.
Another area which has received an equally-as-impressive raft of alterations as the exterior is the cabin space. “The whole interior was light grey as standard, but I wanted it black to look more like the road car.” Steve employed Custom Coach Trimming to undertake the painstaking task of repainting panels and wrapping trim in the faux black leather. Topped off with the all-important Nardi deep-dish steering wheel and some re-trimmed Alcantara seats (a simple yet seriously effective touch), it’s a cockpit that’s oozing far more retro cool than most pickups can even dream of.
‘Hakosuka’ is roughly translated as ‘Box Skyline’, and you probably won’t need any explanation of how the C10-shaped coupé earned such a nickname. This name has been adapted to ‘Hakotora’ or ‘Box Truck’ for pickups with this particular conversion – a moniker Steve’s example can now wear with pride thanks to the stunning execution of the work carried out. Whatever the name though, one thing’s for sure – it certainly beats heading from A to B in any mundane modern hatchback!
Tech Spec: Hakotora Pickup
Factory 1.2-litre normally-aspirated petrol engine, stainless steel exhaust system, four-speed manual gearbox
8×15-inch (front) and 9×15-inch (rear) Image Billet 93 three-piece split rims, custom Supafatto coilovers, stock brake setup
09 Racing ‘Hakotora’ C10 Skyline conversion (comprising bonnet, flared arches (all-round), front apron, chin spoiler, grille, front bumper, dry carbon fibre light bezels and wing mirrors, indicators and headlights), various JDM stickers/decals
Re-painted/wrapped black interior trim, re-built and re-covered leather/Alcantara factory seats with pepperpot detailing, Nardi Deep Corn Alcantara steering wheel, 09 Racing dry carbon fibre wide-view interior mirror
“Huge thanks to Michi from 09 Racing, Japan, for everything, Lee at BP Motor Bodybuilders for the body and paintwork, Jason at Images Wheels, Chris at Custom Coach Trimming, Chris Mullins Tyres, Zane at Datsun Parts NZ, Nick Cross at Supafatto.”
Feature taken from Retro Cars magazine. Words: Sam Preston. Photos: Simon Cooke.