Datsun ute turns over a new LEAF

Riley Riley

One of the exciting concepts bound for this month’s SEMA specialty show in Las Vegas is this Nissan Sunny LEAF project.

That’s right. You guessed it. They’ve taken a 1987 Datsun ute and installed the fully electric powertrain from a Nissan LEAF in it.

The conversion was performed by South Carolina-based Tommy Pike Customs (TPC).

The 1987 Nissan Sunny, owned by TPC owner Tommy Pike, features the electric drive motor and 40kWh lithium-ion battery pack from a Nissan LEAF.

Rated at 110kW of power and 320Nm of torque, the LEAF motor has around twice the power and more than three times the torque of the original four-cylinder petrol engine.

“I bought the Sunny Truck because I thought it was such a cool piece of Nissan history and heritage – especially when I saw it was a right-hand-drive model,” Tommy Pike said.

“Taking the unexpected step of converting the Sunny to electric power while wrapping it with the Brock Racing Enterprises livery felt like the perfect way to pay homage to Nissan’s heritage and modern innovation.”

1987 Nissan Sunny 3
1987 Nissan Sunny


The Sunny utility debuted in February, 1967 and was the light commercial truck variation of the B10 passenger models.

The equivalent Aussie model was the rear-wheel drive Datsun 1200 ute. Remember them?

Sunny was based on the VB10 van chassis and has a body style sometimes described as a “coupé utility” because the rear tub is not separate from the passenger area.

The introduction of a utility based on the Sunny gave Nissan Saito and Nissan Cherry Japanese dealerships the opportunity to sell a commercial vehicle that was originally offered only by the Nissan Bluebird Store.

The 520 series Datsun Truck shared its platform with the Datsun Bluebird, while the larger Nissan Junior shared an engine with the Nissan Cedric.

Nissan decided to duplicate the success it had with a Bluebird-based pickup truck for the new Sunny platform.

Sunny was engineered by newly acquired Aichi Machine Industry Co and gave the new acquisition the ability to demonstrate their profitability to their new Nissan owners.

The pickup was small enough to comply with Japanese Government dimension regulations and the small displacement engines reduced the annual road tax obligation.

B20 used the same wheelbase and running gear as does the Datsun Sunny VB10 van and shared its dimensions.


The complete list of modifications to the LEAF-powered Sunny includes:

  • Nissan LEAF electric motor conversion with factory-original 56A manual transmission
  • Custom CNC-machined motor-to-transmission bellhousing adapter
  • “Hakosuka” Skyline widebody kit
  • Aluminum battery box
  • Custom driveshaft
  • LED lighting conversion
  • Heavy-duty rear leaf springs and suspension
  • Nissan 240SX S13 front suspension conversion, including front coilovers, disc brakes and lower control arms
  • Tommy Pike/Peter Brock collaboration custom Brock Racing Enterprises (BRE) ’46’ livery
  • Custom user interface display designed by Clemson University ICAR
  • TPC custom-designed and handcrafted interior with Laedana material by Tesca
  • 17-inch Rotiform wheels
  • 205/45/17 Toyo Extensa tyres


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