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Back from the Dead

WE’VE ALL HEARD OF ONCE-LOVED RIDES BEING ABANDONED BY THEIR OWNERS FOR ONE REASON OR ANOTHER. Unfortunately, it’s a common occurrence, especially when it comes to custom vehicles. All too often, budgets and time constraints are overextended, leaving a pile of parts to rot away in a garage, shop or, in this case, a field.

James White of Hamlet, North Carolina, was window-shopping online when he came across a ’96 Nissan Hardbody that was in dire need of rescuing. The most recent owner had fallen on hard times and needed to get out from underneath the project, especially since it had been taken out of a body shop and stored in a field under a tree! But it had a few things going for it that piqued James’ interest. For one, it had been body-dropped by legendary mini-truck builder Jody Hall, and it was already bagged and four-linked. To top it off, the custom bodywork and flamed paint job by Jody Goodwill of SRM Paintwerks, although filthy, were still in great shape overall. So, a deal was struck, and James brought it home.

Wanting to keep the bones of the truck intact but add his own personal touches, James shaved the wiper cowl, swapped out the front bumper and grille, and had the paint fully restored by Chris Coker of The Paint Shack. Chris also added tan spray-in bedliner in both the engine bay and bed for the perfect color contrast.

A LOT OF OLDER BUILDS DESERVE A SECOND CHANCE AT LIFE, AND JAMES’ HARDBODY SHOULD BE AN INSPIRATION TO US ALL TO BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR THAT LONG-FORGOTTEN DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH.

The air ride was also in fine shape, but was due for some fresh ‘bags, so James had Pee Dee Customs install new Slam Specialties air springs at each corner. As you’ll notice by the lug count, the truck had received a five-lug swap some time in the past, making wheel choices plentiful. The old wheels were also a bit dated, so James scored some 18-inch MKW M-120 wheels on rubber bands from T’s Wheels & Tires. We think James made the right choice, don’t you?

The original KA24E remains in the truck, but James swapped out the original intake manifold for one out of an early 240SX and had Chris Coker color match both the manifold and the valve cover to the truck’s Porsche Riviera Blue paint job.

JODY GOODWILL FROM SRM PAINTWERKS SPRAYED THE AMAZING PAINT JOB ABOUT A DECADE AGO, JUST BEFORE A PREVIOUS OWNER PUT THE TRUCK ON THE BACK BURNER. TODAY, IT SHINES AS BRIGHTLY AS EVER THANKS TO SOME FRESHENING UP BY CHRIS COKER FROM THE PAINT SHACK. CHRIS WAS EVEN ABLE TO MASK OFF THE ORIGINAL SRM LOGO ON THE TAILGATE AND BLEND NEW PAINT IN TO GIVE PROPER CREDIT WHILE PERFORMING THE RESTORATION.

When it came time for interior work, James realized there were some things he would rather do differently, so he got in touch with Mr. Scrape Customs for a complete revamp. Starting with the Dodge Neon SRT buckets, yards of tan and brown leather were used throughout the cab, including the custom door panels. Custom enclosures house an assortment of CT Sounds speakers, which include 6.5-inch components and subs wired to CT Sounds amplifiers. Topping it all off is an OG Colorado Custom Fire billet steering wheel, billet window cranks and a billet shift knob.

WE’RE IN LOVE WITH THE 18-INCH MKW WHEELS THAT JAMES CHOSE FOR HIS HARDBODY. THE SHARP LINES MATCH THE TRUCK’S ORIGINAL DESIGN PERFECTLY.

Since buying his Nissan in 2016, James has put a lot of time and money into bringing it back to life, and we’re glad he did. Not only has he gotten to enjoy it at shows like Camp ’N Drag, Battle in ‘Bama, and Slamfest, but he’s reminded us that hidden gems are out there waiting to be rediscovered. A lot of older builds deserve a second chance at life, and James’ Hardbody should be an inspiration to us all to be on the lookout for that long-forgotten diamond in the rough.

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