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A love for custom vehicles, specifically mini-trucks, is something Marcus Gibber of Kellyville, California picked up on at a very early age.

“I grew up in the mini-truckin world,” Marcus says. “My pops always had something or was building something. The one truck that really got me was his John Deere green 1992 Chevy long cab. It was bagged and bodied on 18/20 KMCs. It just amazed me how you could take something basic and make it completely your own.”

What started out as a joke ended up being a completely custom truck that Marcus loves to drive. Windows down, music up and Deadbody skatin’ the ground is perfection to Marcus.    

Since Marcus was surrounded by custom trucks growing up, he has seen tons of builds from start to finish.

“I don’t really lean one way or the other when it comes to liking older vehicles more than newer ones,” he says. “My big thing is I just want to see something different. I don’t want to see the same build from 10 different people.”

It wasn’t too long before Marcus bought his first mini-truck project that he could really make his own. What started out as a joke would end up turning into a full-on build.

“This truck all started as a joke between my dad, brother and myself and then it took on a life of its own,” Marcus says.

This truck originally started out as a Nissan Hardbody. Marcus acquired the Nissan in 2014 and it was his daily driver for several years to and from high school. The Nissan was bagged and had undergone a traditional 3-inch body drop. Unfortunately, Marcus outgrew the small standard cab Nissan so they pushed it aside in the shop. That was, until one day Marcus’ brother made a joke about and extra C10 cab he had.

“He said we should make the truck into a C10,” recalls Marcus. “One thing led to another, and my dad called us at 3:00 a.m. one morning and told us to get to the shop. When we got there, my Nissan cab was cut into six pieces in the corner of the shop.”

Spencer J. gibber installed fully custom dual viair 485 compressors and hardlined them into the truck’s bed.

Marcus’ dad wasn’t wasting any time as he already had the C10 cab sitting on the frame with one of the fenders attached. Marcus will never forget when his dad said, “I think this may work.” As they stood there looking at the trucks all in pieces, they started joking about a name for the build.

“We joked about a few different names, like the D21 or the Green Dragon 2 based on my dad’s 1992,” Marcus says.

Those just didn’t seem to fit, so Marcus said, “What do you guys mean? I killed the hardbody! That’s a Deadbody!”

With the idea of Deadbody now in full force, there was no stopping Marcus and his family. They started with the original 1991 Nissan frame that had previously been modified for the first build. Marcus, Spencer L. and Spencer J. Gibber of Affordable Customs in Kellyville, Oklahoma, completed a C-notch and a custom I-beam two-link with wishbone. They also installed a set of tubular control arms. They relocated the factory Hardbody gas tank as well as the transmission crossmember and motor mounts. Custom body mounts had to be fabricated and then put into place. Luckily, they were able to keep the factory Nissan Hardbody steering box.

With the frame modifications done, they began installing the air ride. Marcus and his family installed Slam Specialties air bags all the way around. Before the shocks could go in, they relocated them to give the truck a custom look underneath. Monroe ’67-’72 C10 shocks were installed up front and Monroe ’91 Nissan Hardbody shocks in the rear. They installed an AVS Evolve air block and air tank along with an AVS 7 switch box. Next up were the dual Viair 485 compressors, which would be featured in a fully custom hardline system in the bed of the truck completed by Spencer J. Gibber. After the air-ride installation, they moved on to the drivetrain.

There’s yet another surprise under the hood of Deadbody. The original 1991 Nissan 2.4L 4-cylinder engine was bolted back up to the frame and positioned to fit in the engine bay.

“I wouldn’t call this a motor swap,” Marcus says. “It is more of a body swap of the C10 onto the Nissan frame and drivetrain.”

A set of Pacesetter headers were installed along with a special cold air intake.

“The cold air intake is the original prototype Nissan Hardbody intake from a company in the ’90s and 2000s called FBI,” Marcus says.

it took marcus three years—and a lot of help from family and friends—to build deadbody.

He and his family also used the original 1991 Nissan transmission and rear end along with the factory master cylinder. With any custom build, there will be difficulties along the way. One of the easiest parts for Marcus when building this truck was “getting the Nissan steering column to work.”

With the frame modified and the engine mounted up, they started on the exterior of the truck. This would not be your ordinary C10 shell sitting on a different frame! They fabricated and installed a 1991 Chevy Silverado front bumper and a 1971 C10 rear bumper. The front bumper was then molded to the front fenders for a seamless design. A factory 1970 GMC Suburban grille was mounted and installed to give the front of the truck a completely custom look. New headlight housings were then mounted into the grille which would finish off the front end.

Next up was deciding what to do with the cab of the truck. The cab would be going under the knife as they decided to do a full 3-inch chop top. The chop top conversion would prove to be difficult, but Marcus and his family didn’t let that slow them down.

“There were a large number of issues we ran into,” Marcus says. “I think one of the biggest issues was always time, though. There was just never enough time in a day.”

This meant more sleepless nights for all of them as they worked around the clock out in the shop. They then added a body line to the rear pillar, which allows the cab lines to match up perfectly. With the chop top and extra body line added, they extended the window tracking to line up with the rest of the truck. A custom one-off full skin combo was up next, which gives the truck the perfect and clean body lines. A set of 20×12-inch DropStar DS65s wrapped in Lexani LX-Twenty tires tuck hard when Marcus lays the truck out on the ground! Even with such a wide wheel, the tires do not rub when aired out. The original taillights were removed, and a custom set of lights were installed to finish off the exterior of the truck.

Although there is a lot to love about Deadbody, Marcus’ would say his favorite part of the truck “would probably be that it has the cab space of a full size but the gas mileage of a mini.”

Marcus knew he had to bring the heat when it came time for paint. He called up Scott Vann in Fairfield, California, to help. Marcus wanted something different and not something that you would see every day. The truck was prepped for paint and Scott got to work laying down the special mixed Deadbody Green and Ghoulish Gray paint. The flake shined bright as they rolled the truck out of the booth and into the sunlight for the first time. Marcus was finally able to stand back and really imagine what the truck would look like when it was fully finished. There was no stopping now!

Matt Windell and Blinky of Blinky’s Striping of Fairfield, California, were up next to work their magic on the truck. Deadbody would be coming to life with the level of detail being added to the paintwork. Woodgrain graphics, pinstriping and gold leafing was going down all over the truck. The woodgrain graphic flows down the side of the truck and is outlined in gold leaf and silver pinstriping. The pinstriped flames down the side of the truck transition seamlessly from silver to yellow and finally pink. Their attention to detail makes this truck stand out in the crowd. The tailgate would receive a special touch of pinstriping as they hand-drew “Deadbody” in Japanese and surrounded the piece in yellow and pink pinstriping. The massive back window on the truck would also receive painted logos on the inside of the cab. The colors of the paint really stand out against the dark green truck. The pinstriped lines draw your eye all around the truck, bringing the entire build together.

“A huge thank you goes out to Blinky for the three straight nights of 8pm-8am of striping to make sure the truck was ready for the SEMA Young Guns Event in 2020,” Marcus says.

With most of the truck complete, Marcus moved on to the interior. They gutted the interior of the truck so they could start with a clean slate. Marcus called up Complete Upholstery of Commerce, Georgia, to lend a hand with the upholstery design. They wrapped the Dodge Ram bucket seats in gray leather with green suede inserts to match the exterior of Deadbody. With the seats bolted up, he moved on to the rest of the interior. A custom center console was built and then wrapped to match the seats. The green pool ball shifter was installed to wrap up the center console. The original steering wheel was removed and a Grant wheel was bolted up. The truck needed a full audio overhaul, so a custom speaker box was built to fit behind the seats. The back wall was built with the cubby space to allow for more air space for the box. With the box in place, they mounted the two Hifonics 12-inch subwoofers and two amplifiers. A set of 6.5-inch speakers were installed to keep up with the bass. They then shaved the secondary glovebox door for the driver side so a special touch could be added to the dash. Hand painted dashboard panels with the phrase “Why? Because Mini Truckin’” showcase Marcus’ love for mini-truckin lifestyle. The top of the dash was then wrapped in matching leather and suede.  Custom door panels were built with custom sheetmetal inserts. They wired up the Kicker 6×9 components in the doors for even more midbass. Billet window cranks and door handles were the final touch to bring Deadbody to life.

What started out as a joke ended up being a completely custom truck that Marcus loves to drive. Windows down, music up and Deadbody skatin’ the ground is perfection to Marcus. It took about three years to fully build this truck. Marcus learned a lot along the way, but the most important part was “to take your time and be prepared to be harassed for the build. You can truly build anything with the right minds around.”

Although Marcus spent a lot of time working on the truck, he couldn’t have done it without the help of others.

“I would like to give a special thanks to my parents, my brother, my Poppa, Uncle Lump, Lesa’s Auto Body Supplies for the paint, Uncle Bob (a.k.a. Bob Grant) for the sheetmetal and taillights, Phil with Twisted Images, Scott Vann for the Paint Job and Donnie at Complete Upholstery for shipping my upholstery back and forth.”

All jokes aside, Deadbody is alive!


 

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