Blood, Sweat, & Gears

December 3rd, 2009

One Sliced and Diced Mini

Mike Partyka
1979 Datsun 620 Pickup
Fruita, CO

Coming from a small town in Colorado, there were very few custom trucks to inspire Mike Partyka. Instead of being able to check out numerous trucks at a local show, Mike’s only influence came via the magazine rack at a nearby convenience store. From seeing pictures of what others had created in distant regions of the country, Mike caught the custom bug. Once set on building a ride of his own, Mike got a ’67 Chevy C10 and went to town on it. Though he didn’t know exactly how to perform all of the mods at first, he learned them by practicing on the truck.

When the C10 neared completion, Mike began to see a bunch of guys cruising chopped and slammed VW Beetles in his town. Apparently, a big VW custom shop had just relocated there from Georgia, and the boys were being a bunch of show-offs. Mike made it his mission to push himself as far has he could go and to show the VW guys how wildly trucks could be modified. To make it all happen, Mike searched for a Chevy Luv for this project, but had no luck in finding one. While driving around, he found this ’79 Datsun 620 sitting around and confronted the owner about it. Since the 94-year-old owner wasn’t using it, he sold it to Mike for $450. Back at the garage, Mike, with help from friend Nick Milovich, came up with a plan for this classic mini. To start, Mike brought the roof down by knocking out all of the glass and chopping off 4 inches from the top of the cab’s pillars. Then he hacked off 1 1/2 inches from the bottom of the frame and channeled the cab another 4 inches to get the doors on the ground. Going with a Rat rod style, Mike kept the 14-inch steel wheels that were already on the truck and mounted a set of Coker whites. For the adjustable suspension, he got an IRS from an ’80 Datsun 280Z and made his own back half from 2 x 4-inch steel tubing. From there the 280Z rearend was narrowed 2 inches on each side while the suspension received a set of Slam Specialties RE-7 airbags and a cantilever shock setup. To throw in a cool touch, Mike made his own gas tank out of a stainless steel beer keg and mounted it to the rear of the frame.

For the front suspension, Mike wanted to do something that would puzzle onlookers and ride well. Again, with design help from his buddy, Nick, Mike was able to create a trick suspension system that reaches into the cab of the truck. It works by having two ‘bags push a set of cantilevers that move a pair of link bars across the firewall. Those links are connected to torsion bars that lift and lower the custom control arms. Because there were so many clearance issues with the front tires and suspension, the transmission clutch master cylinder were relocated and the pedal was flipped.

As you can tell, Mike wanted this truck to be insanely low, and as a further step he sectioned the body by 2 inches. The shorter it became, the more Mike could see how drawn out the long bed looked, so he took 10 inches of sheet metal out of it. After the body was tack-welded back together, it was taken to Larry Burson at Mountain Sodablaster to get it down to bare metal. Then with PPG materials purchased from Hightower Supply, Mike had Weston Cook etch the body’s steel surface and locked it in with a coating of clear paint. To finish it off, he threw in a set of modified seats from a ’94 Civic and laid down some burlap upholstery. Mike considers this truck done, but we think it can be inspiring to others. And it just goes to show that just about anyone can acquire the skills to create something cool.

A 1980 IRS 280Z rearend was narrowed 2 inches on each side before being outfitted with a custom cantilever shock setup and Slam Specialties RE-7 ‘bags.


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