Mid-mounted, V-drive Datsun 620 drift ute in the build

Alex Killeen’s Datsun 620 ute project uses a backwards, mid-mounted twin-turbo V6 to create what’ll be at truly wacky drift machine


The In The Build and Readers Cars sections of our magazine always bring in some ripping submissions from you, the readers, and a perfect example of that is Alex Killeen’s 1977 Datsun 620 ute.

You see, Alex is in the middle (pun intended) of mid-mounting a Nissan V6 into the Datsun. “After doing a V6 (1MZFE) swap on my Toyota MR2 and absolutely loving how it handles, I decided I had to make my dirty old farm truck handle just like it,” says Alex.

Alex found the ute on a farm, which’d been parked up for the best part of 15 years under a tree. After paying just $500 for it and getting it back on the road and rego’d, he began the process of the complex conversion.

The typical way to do a RWD, mid-engine car like this would be to just run the V6 with the front of the engine facing forwards, sending power to the diff as per normal. Alex didn’t want a whole bunch of weight over the rear end, though. He plans on entering this thing in drifting competitions once it’s completed, so weight distribution is a big consideration.

“I started looking at rear engine ski boats that my friends had been building, and realised I could probably use those principles for my build,” says Alex.

“So I spun the engine around 180 degrees and sat it directly behind the cab, putting it as close to the centre of the car as possible,” he says. “I then ran the transmission through the cabin floor and mounted an old Haynes & Hellyer parallel V-drive where the engine originally was under the bonnet. This way the majority of the cars weight is in the centre.”

That does mean the H pattern for the D21 Navara gearbox will be backwards, but to Alex that’s just fine. “To me, building the car and overcoming unique problems and challenges is half the fun of it. The H-pattern will be one of those, and I have no idea if it’ll be a good drift car or not,” he says.

“But that’s just how I like it. To me, true hot-rodding is about working with what you’ve got, expressing your creativity and letting nothing hold you back.”

The engine is a Nissan 3.0-litre VG30DET V6, nicked from a Y31 Cima. “I didn’t want an RB or Barra as they’re too long, and an LS would be too easy,” says Alex. “I found the VG gave me the maximum amount of cylinders without compromising on size, and I will say I do like VGs.”

You’ll also note the pair of turbos, which are Garrett GT2871s. It’ll use a modified FG Falcon Barra ECU and loom put together by our good mate Bill Hooton from Hooton’s Harnesses, with all the necessary sensors.

“The car is still in the very early stages of the build. However, you should expect to see it on the track (and maybe the streets) in late 2024,” says Alex.

You can check out his Instagram here.