Based on the B110 chassis, or Nissan 1200 as it was better known, the Nissan Sunny truck (B120 series) was first introduced in 1971.
At the time Nissan was developing the truck, I don’t think they could have ever known how successful it would be. The little Sunny pickup took the world by storm, and for many years it was a staple of small businesses. It was cheap to buy, cheap to maintain, and really durable. Over the last four decades, it’s also proven itself to be ripe for modification.
Local Is Lekker
In South Africa specifically, the Sunny truck was so successful that in 2008 an updated model just for the local market – the B140 – was manufactured. That means the pickup was sold here for a total of 37 years.
Over the basic B120 spec, the B140’s main changes were a 1.4-litre A14 engine, 5-speed manual gearbox, power-assisted disc brakes, and an increased roofline height to accommodate taller South Africans. The truck had two very popular nicknames locally, either the 1400 Bakkie or Kanniedood, which in Afrikaans translates to cannot die. If that’s not testament to the Sunny pickup’s reliability I don’t know what would be.
Although this white little number might look like one of the first-generation Sunny trucks, it’s actually a B140 manufactured in 2002. A Nissan Champ to be specific, which is the sport model of the truck, adding features like side striping, bucket seats, a tachometer, and a central handbrake. Revolutionary, I know.
Brannigan Achadinha, the owner of this truck nicknamed Baby Yazuka, actually went through quite a process to acquire it. It all started when he swapped a scooter for a 1982 Toyota, which was swapped for a MkII Golf GTI, which then ended being swapped for the then completely stock Sunny pickup.
There are a few ways Brannigan could’ve gone about modifying his truck. In South Africa, this model is a popular base for drag racing, with the fastest example pushing out over 1,000hp and running 7-seconds in the quarter mile while still utilizing leaf springs. The other way is going the stance route, which the truck’s design obviously lends itself to quite nicely. Over recent years, we’ve even seen some with of them with 09 Racing’s ‘Hakotora’ front end swap, which is a pretty epic modification.
As you can see, Brannigan decided on the low, street look, and for the most part his vision was brought to life in his home garage.
Brannigan began by pulling out his trusty old grinder and chopping all the rear fender lips of. From there he moved onto the arches. He bought aftermarket fiberglass flares and cut the body panels to fit, and then proceeded to weld up and fill a few rusty holes as well as all the unwanted indents from the rear bumper.
Given that he much prefered the B120’s old school look over the modern B140’s appearance with square headlights, a front end backdate was always on the cards. Brannigan managed to source a B120 front end, complete with grille, bumper and badge. He also fitted a front chin lip spoiler.
Once the facelift was complete, Brannigan repainted the Sunny himself. The paint job came out quite good, so he ran it like that for a while.
But at the beginning of this year, Brannigan felt like it was time for the truck to have a proper finish, so he sent it over to Rolling Dents for a full respray. Before that happened though, the door handles and fuel cap were flushed for a much cleaner look.
This was also the perfect time for Brannigan to add some other details, like old school fender mirrors and clear side indicators.
A mesh grill was installed in the driver’s door window frame, which not only looks cool, but given the crime in South Africa kind of makes sense too. At the back you’ll find a custom tailgate spoiler constructed in carbon fiber by FSU Developments.
And inside the load bin there’s a custom roll bar fabricated by SVTech, which doubles up as a bike rack.
There’s also a custom fuel cell, and in the center a cutout that the differential peeks through.
Down & Out
You don’t need to guess what sort of suspension the Sunny is running either, as it’s all there on display. The custom air ride system was pieced together by FS Projects and incorporates coilover struts with OCD single bellow bags with custom mounts in the front, and a custom triangulated 4-link setup with Air Lift Performance double bellow bags in the rear.
On the management side, you’ll find an analog controller with a solenoid block and dual needle gauge. The compressor is a single Viair 444C unit running into a seamless 3-gallon tank with ¼-inch lines. When Brannigan drops it all the way it goes so low that the frame actually hits the ground.
Vintage style wheels were a must, and there’s no denying that the Work Equip 01s in a 15×9-inch fitment with 165/55R15 Dunlops stretched across them look perfect.
The Sunny’s stock engine still lives under the hood, but it’s seen some upgrades along the way. SVTech fitted a port cylinder head and a new cam, and twin Weber side-draught carbs ensure the four-cylinder is adequately fueled. They also built a custom headers and fitted a free-flow exhaust among other things. On the dyno, subsequent tuning netted 92whp, which is a great improvement over the 63hp the truck came with from the factory.
Brannigan wanted a clean interior, so the original seating was pulled out and recovered in plain black fabric. He also fitted the custom-made carbon fiber dash and installed a wireless sound system. With the latter, Brannigan’s iPhone sits on a magnet on the dash and connects directly to a hidden Bluetooth amplifier, cutting out the need for a head deck. The speakers are also hidden under the dash along with two low-profile subwoofers under the seat.
All the door and foot panels were replaced with black Perspex panels, and there are now pull handles to open and close the doors. Brannigan also fitted a quick-release steering wheel hub with an aftermarket steering wheel, and says that the Samurai gear shifter was a must-have addition to fit in with the theme.
On the dashboard there’s also the PSI gauge for the air setup and two manual switches to adjust height. Lastly, the roof liner was given a Japanese flag look for some added colour.
Brannigan’s Sunny truck might be quite simple if compared to others built around the world, but that’s also what makes it so awesome in my mind. It’s small, lightweight, looks pretty rad, and even a little bit cute.
One thing’s for sure though, wherever we took it for this shoot it was on the receiving end of a lot of attention.
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