A few of you may remember a few weeks ago when I mentioned that I was looking for a small, cheap truck and then found a '95 Nissan Hardbody. The truck had been bought new by a Pearl Harbor survivor who had recently passed away at 92, and I bought it from his son in-law. There was a dent in the driver's door and the original paint was quite oxidized. Instead of the chrome wheels that many Hardbodies had, this had the optional 'deluxe' plastic wheel covers on the steel 14" wheels with dry rotted tires from the time of the Clinton administration. The interior had a woven seat cover, not unlike a horse blanket, and one of those plastic, slip-on steering wheel covers. Both had been on there since new. I don't think the truck had ever seen a vacuum cleaner or a coat of wax. The upside was 58,000 miles, it ran pretty good and had cold A/C. Plus, it had an aluminum camper shell included.
After driving it for a couple days and getting a feel for what I had, I ordered a bunch of parts from Rock Auto to freshen it up. New belts & hoses to replace the originals, along with plugs, cap, rotor, plug wires, and filters. I was actually shocked how cheap the parts were. I was also shocked to learn how expensive and rare 14" tires had become. This was all I needed to justify bigger and better looking wheels, so after not finding anything on Craigslist, it was off to the local junk yards. Junk yards in my area have become well run, organized businesses. Naturally, this means that they are much more expensive and less fun to visit than in years past. Factory alloys off of newer Nissans were commanding $300 a set. This was more than I wanted to spend, and in line with what brand new wheels would cost. I finally found a 'less professional' place with a '99 Pathfinder with a nice set of 16" wheels that he let me have for $170. Another $350 spent at Discount Tire and the truck should now be set for several years, plus it looks so much better.
The parts all arrived, so the belts, hoses, fluids, and ignition perishables were all replaced along with a weeping valve cover gasket. When pulling the plug wires, two of the electrodes came out of the plugs. I'm surprised that it ran as well as it did. With all of that done, it was off to the cosmetics. The steering wheel and seat covers had protected the original materials and they were like new, once cleaned. While digging through the glove box, not only did I find the original manuals and window sticker, I found a little book which the man had kept as a record of the truck. Not only was every oil change listed as well as one tune up, he recorded every tank of gas with the date and mileage. This made me happy to say the least. On to the paint. The paint buffed up very well, but ruined two microfiber buffing pads in the process. All of the chrome, both on steel and plastic, had turned to a dull grey, but cleaned up like new. There are a few chips and scratches, but I'm touching those up as I go. Also, I was lucky enough to find a guy about 50 miles from me who parts out Hardbody trucks and he had a matching white door for $45 to replace the dented one. Unfortunately it came from someones service truck and the door was covered with decals, so work to get the adhesive removed is ongoing and a bit of a pain in the ass. I should be able to install it this weekend.
My plan has been to coomute this about half the time so that I don't put so many miles on the Spyder and can keep it cleaner, plus use it to haul stuff instead of having to borrow or rent a truck. Since I'll be spending so much time in it, I figured that I might as well replace the headliner that was starting to sag, so that was another $15 for the material off eBay. Finally, the original casette deck and one working speaker needed to go, so a trip to Best Buy with $65 worth of coupons in my pocket was in order. $94 + the coupons later, I had a Sony CD receiver with built in Bluetooth and the add-in SiriusXM receiver. Forty more dollars at Fry's got me a pair of 6.5" Kicker 2-ways to replace the original 4" stockers.
So that's where it stands, about $3600 all in. After the tune up and swap to Mobil 1, the mileage has improved from 22 to 26 mpg. We've named it Snowball, only the second vehicle (out of nearly 100) to receive a name. The other, an E30 325iS was named Blackie. I'm actually a bit sad that I'm running out of things to do to the truck, but it's been a fun little project to keep me busy while I wait for the new house & shop to be finished so that I can get back to work on the '32 Ford. Kind of makes me feel like a shorter, less charismatic Edd China...