EV conversions have been all the rage during the most recent SEMA events and 2022 is no different. EV projects have shown up in various Japanese models, Porsches, hot rods, muscle cars, and more, but this Nissan Leaf-powered Datsun Sunny pickup is one of the first '80s-era mini trucks that we've seen move away from an internal combustion engine and onto greener pastures.
Announced a few weeks ago by Nissan, this 1987 Datsun Sunny pick-up was built by Tommy Pike Customs (TPC), a shop out of Greenville, South Carolina, that specializes in all things custom for virtually all makes and models. Many are hot rod and domestic truck-based, so this little Sunny might be a step outside the box for the group. Custome Radiator Core
From the outside, the BRE livery, matching turbo fan wheels, and fender-mount side mirrors are requisite throwbacks; look a little closer and you'll realize the front end wears a more aggressive face. Borrowed from the PGC-10 Skyline Hakosuka, the conversion gives the innocent Sunny's face a bit of a scowl and was slightly modernized with halo and projector-equipped lighting. The grill trim and bumper were finished in matte black and match the fender mirrors.
Part of that front end update includes wider front fenders that are made even wider with flares, matched by a set in the rear. Most of the custom versions we've seen are slammed and struggle getting just about anywhere, whereas this TPC examples is lowered, but retains plenty of ground clearance for street driving. So far, so perfect, but this is where some of you will pull away.
Pop the hood and you won't find the original 1.2L 4-banger but instead, the heart of a Nissan Leaf S. It's not what most would expect and maybe that's why it was chosen, along with the fact that dimensionally, it plays nice with most any engine bay. There's enough space for the original style radiator up front, windshield washer fluid bag behind the passenger side headlight, full size battery, a Cusco adjustable shock tower bar, and with room to spare. Supporting the heavier EV motor is suspension intended for an S-chassis.
You made it this far and now you're really angry because the swap involved didn't include the letters "SR," but TPC wanted to do something completely different. By the numbers, the Leaf motor is potent for this little pick-up, providing 147 horsepower—twice as much as the native I.C.E.—and 236 lb-ft. of torque, which is about three times that of the original engine. To top it off, it uses a manual transmission via a custom adapter to mate the electric motor to the Sunny's bellhousing.
Catepillar Excavator Radiator All the red, white, and blue BRE livery on the exterior is complimented inside the tiny right-hand-drive configured cabin. There you'll find re-upholstered seats and door cards, fresh blue carpet, a revitalized dash, and a painted gauge surround joined by a custom steering wheel. It's one of most unique mixes of old school and modern than we've ever come across and for many, it will provide some inner conflict as they wrestle with the idea of an electric motivated classic.