After being an automotive photographer in the New England car scene for a few years, there are certain names you will inevitably come across and builds you will inevitably see photos of passing by your timeline.
Angelo is definitely one of those people, and his Datsun pickup is definitely one of those cars.
I had been meaning to get out to Amherst to shoot with Angelo for a long time, and I’ve wanted to shoot his truck for as long as I can remember knowing about it. Although I feel like moderation is key in life, I’ve seen very few cars that can pull off an absolute lack of moderation quite as effortlessly as the “Rotsun.”
Angelo was getting the pickup on the road the day I happened to message him about shooting it. After a transmission flush and a few other maintenance items were taken care of, he gave me the word to head towards his direction.
Sunny skies and 70 degrees made the drive fly by, and I was finally greeted with the sight of a bright, aggressively modified Datsun 720.
We drove around a few photo locations within Amherst, and the different lighting in each location brought out new details about the Rotsun every time.
Although its tough to start somewhere, the hand-made tube doors would be a good place. While the tube doors don’t protect you from the outside, they add to the mental aesthetic this truck does so well – by taking the typical Jeep Wrangler experience deep into the realm of Mad Max.
Through those rustic tube doors shine some gorgeous Iron Ace hot rod seats, which Angelo had made for the Rotsun. Although they looked uncomfortable, I slipped right into them and felt at home in all the madness surrounding me. The doors look ridiculous, but they somehow fit right in.
One of my favorite touches on the car is a 30+ year old wooden wink mirror.
This was just another odd modification that tied the whole truck together. The interior has also been fully reupholstered with diamond stitching, but that interior won’t be installed until a future shoot.
From the aggressive, function-oriented look – given off by the chunky front spoiler and external mounted oil cooler -- to the rustic looking yellow running lights and rusted, rising-star cut hood, the front end comes together like a chord as opposed to a mess of off-tune notes played together.
A lot about this car stimulates thinking, and not even just what Angelo has done to it. It has some generally interesting design features that Datsun carried into the 1980s, like the outboard mounted strap tie-downs, and the incredibly low rear tail lights. While admiring the features of the stock vehicle itself, you will snap back into the mad reality of what this vehicle actually is. A Toyo R888R wrapped Klutch wheel juts out of a rusty wheel well adorned by a “Specs Please” slap sticker. It’s an ensemble of so many aspects of the car community, it’s difficult to keep up or lose interest.
Outside of some of the more comical aspects like the fitment, sound, and rusty look, there is some serious work put into the mechanics of this truck. The frame was fully rebraced and painted a galaxy color to match the steering wheel and door inserts, the suspension was upgraded with custom coilovers on all four corners, and extended control arms were installed up front for more steering angle. On top of that, the rear end was upgraded, as were the rear axles. Disc brakes were installed to insure stopping power at higher speed.
Right now you might be asking yourself why this car needs all of those mods, since even with the dual-weber carbs and the side exit exhaust, the original i20b may not have enough power to get out of its own way. This is true, but Angelo is swapping in a built KA in the coming weeks, and there may have been some talk of boosting it to put down over 300 horsepower to the ground, too, which is exciting.
I guess we’ll just have to keep our eyes and ears open for that, though.
Check out Angelo’s Instagram for more awesome Rotsun content! @thatminitruckkid
Check out our own Instagram for more of our own content while you’re at it! @RevHappy.co