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1995 Nissan Hardbody 2wd Build


petercscherer

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Greetings!

I've been stricken by the Nissan bug for over 6yrs now, and have owned a slew of older Datsuns and such, but never really had an eye for anything more modern; so when I spotted this former service truck, I was a bit puzzled at first, ultimately deciding that it was worth a 3hr drive from Lubbock, TX to Wichita Falls, TX. It turned out to be so worth it!

 

I rode up there with my brother in his 1991 Dodge Stealth RT -Twin Turbo- AWD Coupe; let's just say, we made good time...

 

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Turned out to have been used at Sheppard Air Force Base as a service truck and only had ~54,000 miles on it. The factory camshaft had worn out and ruined the head, so the previous owner had installed a new head, timing chain, water pump, and timing cover, as well as wires, plugs, etc...  Being that it was also rust free and under market-value, I paid the man and drove it home slowly due to a mismatched set of weathered tires. 

 

On the way back, it had an intermittent lifter tick, and this really started to concern me as we drove along, oil levels were fine and it kinda came and went. We made it home and today I got it on the lift, dropped all oil, put in new Mobil One Synthetic 5W30 and started it up, no lifter problems at all. Still a bit confused on that point, but it runs like a top and the A/C throws snowballs!

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The custom made ladder-rack and bed-box was the first thing to go, it was unceremoniously tossed in the back lot of the shop to sit and decay for the next 100yrs. It was then time to turn to some upgrades to the old truck.

 

After installing a new set of 205/70R14 tires on it, I decided I couldn't stand the chincy hubcaps that were on it and shot the bare steel wheels in Dupli-Color's Bronze Wheel Paint and accompanied by clearcoat. Really transformed the look! And you can't have a Nissan truck without lowering it... So 2" blocks were installed in the rear and the front torsion bars were lowered to match. It now measures 28cm from the ground to the wheel arch on all 4 corners. 

 

It's now sitting right, rides nicely, and looks exactly as I intended!
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Short term plans include: 

Exhaust upgrade
Pathfinder/D21 Bucket Seats and console

Radio and speaker upgrade

Headlights/Tailight upgrade

Swaybars Possibly

 

Overall, this will be my shop truck for running errands for my business, and also for just bombing around town when I'm not in my 1985 Toyota MR2. Stay tuned for updates and I'll be sure to keep you informed on what changes I make!

~Peter

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Nice looking truck. Congrats on the purchase.

 

I've had my 95 D21 Gardbody for almost 5 years. Best damn truck I ever owned. It's got 176k on it and runs great. It is reliable and strong and handles everything I throw at it. It tows cars on my Dolly, pulls our camper, moves lumber and loads of top soil, moves furniture and as you say, the A/C throws snowballs.

 

i would love to find a clean 94-97 hardbody V6 kingcab.

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These interest me. I've often considered one as a second vehicle, so I look forward to any updates.

 

Also, having spent a lot of time behind the wheel of Air Force vehicles, be wary of that mileage number. It may be low, but I bet the amount of hours on it is astronomical. Our trucks drive around the flightline all day at 15mph, 7 days a week, for years, so it has had a lot of seat time. I would give any wear items a thorough checking over.

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These interest me. I've often considered one as a second vehicle, so I look forward to any updates.

 

Also, having spent a lot of time behind the wheel of Air Force vehicles, be wary of that mileage number. It may be low, but I bet the amount of hours on it is astronomical. Our trucks drive around the flightline all day at 15mph, 7 days a week, for years, so it has had a lot of seat time. I would give any wear items a thorough checking over.

Yeah, we put the truck on the hoist and found a few things being worn or low on fluid. Nothing critical, and finding a rust-free truck that runs this well is rare!

 

 

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Well, it's time for some seat upgrades!  I found the factory bench to be so broken down and uncomfortable that I had to change it out. I browsed around a few Hardbody forums and stumbled upon reports that guys used PT Cruiser seats in them, so I went to my local Wrench-A-Part, and found the best pair of PT seats they had! 

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They're out of a 2001 PT Cruiser LE, with grey leather/suede upholstery, little wear, and the driver's side has full lumbar and a power seat-base adjustment! Very cool and everything works! I got both seats and hardware for $45!!!! Amazing deals on seats if you can find some that aren't all torn, worn, or water-logged...

 

So, here's how they sit in the truck so far:

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Still some negotiating with fitment, and then I need to fabricate some risers to mount them to, but nothing too difficult. 

 

Of course, the important thing when mounting seats is taking lots of measurements, and creating diagrams so you can visualize placement.

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So, now it sets blown apart in the shop for a few days, I'm confident the comfort level will make up for the hassle. :)


~Peter

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Seats are done! After 2 days of messing around, got the PT Cruiser seats installed and working perfectly! I also took the opportunity to fix the shift boots and install a better shift knob. I'll get more pics once my center-console arrives in the mail and I get it installed. Surprisingly easy to install, and total cost invested was $56! 

 

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Tomorrow, I get the exhaust fixed; it has a rusted muffler and blown-out resonator, so I'll be getting the whole system upgraded to 2.25" and have my exhaust guys get me setup with a more throaty exhaust note. 

 

Later this week I'll be getting my new headlights/taillights in as well as surprise! ;) Good things are on the way!

 

~Peter

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Got the exhaust fixed, here's what I was starting with:
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Went from 2" to 2.25". I left the front bit stock because I "might" be doing a header upgrade and some point in the future, so not use messing around with flanges and downpipes. Flowmaster Turbo Muffler and a Sankei Resonator bring the decibels down to a tolerable amount. The rear portion might change a bit, getting a lot of drone echoing off the bed floor, so I'll probably extend the rear out later this week. 

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I pulled the truck into the shop today to start installing a new radio and speakers, and immediately noticed a major radiator leak from the center of the finned area. Seems to be something internal and since the radiator shops here in town take forever to get things done, I just opted to replace it. So I'll be installing a new one tomorrow as well as the radio and such. 

 

I have lots of parts coming in the mail over the next few days, so it will be exciting to see the transformation from service truck to shop-truck.

 

P.S. The graphics shop is almost done with our company logo for the doors of the truck, I'll make sure to share that as well once it's done. 

~Peter

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After installing a new set of 205/70R14 tires on it, I decided I couldn't stand the chincy hubcaps that were on it and shot the bare steel wheels in Dupli-Color's Bronze Wheel Paint and accompanied by clearcoat. Really transformed the look! And you can't have a Nissan truck without lowering it... So 2" blocks were installed in the rear and the front torsion bars were lowered to match. It now measures 28cm from the ground to the wheel arch on all 4 corners.

 

It's now sitting right, rides nicely, and looks exactly as I intended!

 

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I'm just curious if maybe you got the measurement unit wrong? The truck below measures 22.5 inches or 57.15cm from the ground to wheel arch center.

 

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The truck is a 1995 as well, but being in Washington, does not have A/C lol.  I built it for my son to cruise as his first vehicle, he turns 16 in a few months.  If you're above 5'10" tall, you'll be glad you didn't go with Pathfinder seats. That's what came already installed in this truck and they have such a high seating position it makes it hard to see the gauge cluster. 

 

Nice start to your truck build, looking good so far.  I'll definitely be checking in to see how it progresses.

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I got a chance to kick in 8 solid hours of work on the truck today, and have some awesome results to show off! 

I started the day by tearing the old radio and speakers out of the truck. The radio was the OEM piece and the display stopped working, and the speakers only produced sound out of the passenger-side, so it was time to go...

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I went shopping at Best Buy and picked up a pair of Pioneer 6.5" speakers, and the cheapest head-unit they had, this is el cheapo shop truck after all! Wiring was the biggest headache since it took awhile to find the right wiring diagrams online. 

 

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The new radio bolted right up to the old housing, so no install kit was needed!

 

 

 

You can see how Nissan even used a 6.5" spacer to mount their 5.25" factory pieces. Simply unbolted them and the new slid into place!

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Now it was time to fix the exhaust I ruined the other day...

 

See, I had installed that Sankei resonator in there and it did fix my noise issues, but it was hanging too low and I KNOW it was going to catch on something. Couple this with the Modshop Metal Werks roll pan I got in the mail today, and you can see where things went...

 

Mocking up the new roll-pan. Not a perfect fit, and if this were a show-truck I would be finessing some of the edges and mounting points, but for $80, can't complain too much. Had to cut a hole for the exhaust to exit, otherwise, didn't modify a thing!

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Here's where I moved the Sankei resonator to the rear and spliced into the "old/new" 2.25" exhaust. 

 

 

 

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While the rollpan was getting primed in my spray booth, I took some time to remove the old tail-lights. These worked just fine, but with modern technology becoming so affordable, I opted to update them to LED ones!

 

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So here it sits until tomorrow:

 

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Tomorrow, I'll be installing the license plate light and getting it licensed, replacing the radiator that is leaking, install my new Tonneau Cover, and possibly start to install sound-deadening material in the cab. 

 

Thanks for stopping by! This truck is really getting me excited, I just love the practicality and fun that these mini-trucks offer!

~Peter

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Bad news today!

 

After getting the new radiator installed and operational, I now suffer from a coolant leak from where the intake manifold meets the block. Either a cracked intake-cooling passage or a blown intake manifold gasket would be the culprit. I'll be looking into this tomorrow.

 

~Peter

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It is always something with an old truck.  At least yours is drive-able and you are enjoying it.

 

I have had my 520 for going on 8 years and have not driven it once in that time.  I hope to drive it soon to work out mechanical bugs and then tear it down for body and paint.

 

My 520 on Jack stands.

 

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  • 1 year later...

Geez, it's been over a year since I updated this thread... Well, time for an update. This summer I ran into continued problems with the engine on this truck, and wound up replacing it with a rebuilt KA24E and just throwing the old one away. Seems that before I bought it, the truck got water in the engine/trans and that kinda ruined everything... Transmissions was overfull with watery oil. Not fun. So after spending a metric crap-ton of money, I finally have a reliable truck with decent power. I'm still tempted to try a header and better flowing exhaust, but I'm afraid I'll muck up the O2 sensor. :/

 

Anyways, here's how it sits now:

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I'm selling my blue 1985 Toyota MR2, partially to fund new projects, partially so I can buy a TIG welder. So this truck will be back in the shop in the next few months for a proper interior and stereo upgrade. Might get around to finding some wheels too.  :devil:

 

~Peter

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Pacesetter used to make a header that fit decently. I put one on a 97 model in my back yard and it even had a bung for the 02 sensor.

 

I got it from an off road website based in Florida although I can't remember the exact name

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Pacesetter used to make a header that fit decently. I put one on a 97 model in my back yard and it even had a bung for the 02 sensor.

 

I got it from an off road website based in Florida although I can't remember the exact name

Yeah, I've decided to go that route. Though I'm looking at Stainless headers and then do a full Stainless Exhaust all the way back. I figure it'll give me some good experience with my TIG. 

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In regards to my plan for aftermarket wheels, I ran into issues with them rubbing on the control arms and radius rods; that, coupled with a few other ideas, means it's stuck with the stock wheels at the moment. I am shopping around for suspension upgrades and I've been chatting with Beebani about some stuff. :)

 

Next step is some interior upgrades. Might be a few weeks before any progress though.

~Peter

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  • 2 months later...

PHOTOS FIXED! Also, update on the truck.

 

Installed Belltech drop spindles, drop leafs and drop shocks all around last fall. These put the ride height almost were I want it, but I'm still chasing the right "look". 

 

New interior planned for later this month, it's going to be awesome!
 


~Peter

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NEW WHEELS FINALLY!!! 

 

Ultra 5015 16x8 +25. Upgraded to 4x4 front fenders to allow for the offset, and I can assure you all: no poke!

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Last night when I installed them, I wasn't feeling the love, but now that I've been driving them around all morning, it's looking badass!
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~Peter

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Went about fixing the broken grill from the previous owner. The truck had gotten hit in the right front that smashed the fender and cracked the grill; I replaced the fender last week, so it was time to replace the grill. 

 

I read somewhere that the 1990-91 grills are bolt-in replacements and I've always liked their style over the slanted accents of the 92-97. So, onto eBay I went and sourced a New 1990-1991 Chrome grill for $55! Sometimes I love cheap Asian parts!

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It was as simple as unbolting the old and swapping in the new! 
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Then of course, I had to wash the truck and get my new door decals applied! 
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~Peter

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