Malaysian Utility | Kean Yap's 1972 'Hakotora' Datsun Sunny Pickup

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Words & Photography Luke Ray

If you scroll back through this blog a page or two, you’ll see C.K. Naga’s kaido-racer-inspired Nissan Laurel that I shot after a fun weekend at the Art of Speed event in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Well, it was a two-for-the-price-of-one kind of a morning, as one of C.K.’s friends, Kean Yap, also showed up in his very cool Hakotora pickup. Also heavily inspired by Japanese car culture, Kean Yap has put a lot of effort into his ute to give it a unique look and style. Here’s a quick rundown from the man himself… 

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KY: The love and passion towards this car came from a Taiwanese magazine named ‘SpecR’, back when this magazine was a big deal before the Internet took off. Coincidentally, the editors of this magazine went on a trip to Japan, interviewing the street racers and discovering the street racing scene in Japan. 

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It seemed remarkable to me that people were street racing simple cars, like the Datsun Sunny. Reading this magazine, I became excited and my love towards the Sunny began. 

Fast forward to sometime later, around ten years ago, I was driving and somehow encountered this very car sitting on a country roadside. With the passion and love for Sunnys developing, I instantly took a u-turn and headed over to the house, knocking on the door furiously and hoping the owner would sell the car. 

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After that, the door opened and an elderly lady stepped out with a confused face. I greeted her and we started chatting about the story of this ‘Santora’. Apparently, this car was in full operation on the family chicken farm, her husband passed away some time ago and the car had been abandoned ever since. 

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At that point, I manned up and asked whether the car is for sale. She said “yes” and I said, “shut up and take my money…”

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And so the journey began as I started to rip this car apart, working through rust treatments, rebuilding the engine, paint etc. So when it was completed, it was orange and still had a B120 (early model) facelift. 

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I kept that look for quite a while until I met the gang from ‘Back Wheel Bitches’ which inspired me to modify the car again but in the Shakotan style. The reason why I changed to a Hakosuka front end was inspiration from NS Motorsports. They showed me some photos of how it would look and I was pumped. 

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After sourcing all the correct parts, the Sunny’s cute front was gone and on went the aggressive Hakosuka front end. I feel that it now makes my car significantly more recognizable.

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Quick Facts:

1972 Datsun Sunny truck/ute GB120  日産 サニート with a Nissan Hakotora front end. 5 year build.

A15/A-series 1607cc engine, built by NS Motorsports. Mikuni Solex 40mm side draft carb.

5-speed dogleg 60L gearbox. 

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13inch JDM Enkei Apache wheels, 165-65-13 tyres.

Corbeau seats, GX5 steering wheel.

PMCS Hakosuka livery inspiration.

Special credits: NS Motorsports, Superskill Auto Garage.

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Follow Kean Yap: @keanyap // @backwheelsbitches

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Luke RayMalaysia, Datsun