Are there any ice hockey fans among us? If so, then the term ‘sucker’ pass is probably somewhat familiar. A sucker is a pass that puts the receiver in high risk of being checked off the puck, rather violently, upon receipt. The passer doesn’t intentionally wish harm toward the recipient of course; the pass simply becomes a sucker pass as a result of the play changing quickly in the opposing team’s favor.
When Kerion sent through a folder full of the various vehicles he shot during his recent trip to Ocean City, I couldn’t help but feel, at least slightly, that he sent me a sucker pass. At this point, some of you are confused, fed up, and even somewhat angry with our ‘not H2Oi 2020‘ coverage, so you might be wondering why Speedhunters continues to send anyone to Maryland for this ‘event’ at all.
Vehicles like this are why.
The variety of vehicles tucked in the alleys of Ocean City in early October are hard to rival, practically anywhere. Despite what it may look like from the outside, and amidst all the tickets, walking bananas, misguided youth and pandering for Instagram likes, the H2Oi weekend can still be a place where like automotive minds are able to converge relatively unbothered.
So, if you can, put aside your situational bias and enjoy the first of many treasures Keiron dredged up on his latest trip to the city called Ocean.How Cool Could That Be?
It’s a bit funny how many builds start from the simple thought: ‘How cool could that be?’. Chris Miller said that to a friend about a passing Nissan Hardbody truck shortly after he sent the motor of his Mazda 6 to an early grave.
In stock form the Nissan D21 Hardbody truck was right up there with the Mazda B2200 and Toyota Tacoma as a competitor to Ford’s Ranger and Chevrolet’s S-truck offerings. During the heyday of mini truckin’ it was an extremely popular platform to customize with small, wide wheels and a hefty drop.
But in 2020 we’re a long way removed from mini truckin’s peak, and about eight years from the last time a proper mini (single cab, short bed) truck was released in North America.
As I mentioned, a wide variety of slammed Hardbodies have been built across the globe, but a much smaller percentage have made their way onto the track. Fewer still have been properly built to go sideways.
Chris’s inspiration for his Hardbody came from an appreciation for the factory styling, coupled with the peer pressure of friends who found themselves getting further and further involved in drifting.
While not a traditional drifting platform, thinking of a Hardbody sliding through corners flanked by a pair of S-chassis had Chris wondering how cool it would be.Ground Work
Making a truck work well as a drift/street vehicle isn’t a task for the faint of heart. A simple coil spring, shock and spindle swap, coupled with lowering blocks and de-arched leafs in the rear wouldn’t do the trick.
Chris can attest to this – he tried.
After attempting to live with the horrendous axle wrap that came with a traditional mini truck-style drop, he was forced to get creative. The rear suspension is now four-linked, using a universal kit originally designed for air bags.
The provisions for bags were cut off and replaced with coilover brackets, resulting in a true coilover setup for the rear. All of the aforementioned is now covered with a Rohde Fabrication bead-rolled notch cover.
To assist with vehicle balance, Chris has placed the new fuel cell considerably further rearward than the factory tank.
To match the rear, the front end was brought down on QA1 coilovers fitted with Swift springs. The steering knuckles have been shortened, and the lower control arms extended to allow for an overall suspension geometry that is better suited for drifting. Read: more angle.
Behind Work Meister wheels a Nissan 300ZX has given up its brakes both front and rear, and that includes the additional hydraulic OEM 300ZX caliper-based handbrake.Poppin’ In the Hood
If you were wondering whether this truck has some extra ponies to back up its looks, it most certainly does. Nissan D21s share the same block as KA24-powered Nissan Silvias, but they differ in regards to intake and exhaust manifold setup. Using the truck parts in a turbo application would have been a right pain, so Chris instead used an S13 manifold to handle the intake side of the equation and a Rev9 cast manifold for the exhaust side. Mounted to the log-style manifold is a polished CX Racing T35R turbo.
The necessary fueling requirements are provided by a Walbro 255lph pump and regulated by an Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator.
Inside the block are Wiseco 8:1 forged pistons, a Brian Crower cam, and Eagle rods. A freshly rebuilt OEM head is bolted to the balanced short block via ARP head studs, while a Megasquirt standalone ECU tells the motor setup what to do and when to do it.
Out back, a subtle turn-down pipe terminates the 3-inch v-band exhaust system from the turbo back.
To get the tires turning, a refreshed stock transmission kicks power to a welded stock differential.Of Course It Looks Good Too
The truck has seen a few visual revisions in Chris’s ownership, but its latest cleanly blends ’80s-inspired graphics with ’90s-inspired drift styling.
Grey Avery vinyl covers the entire truck, including the widened front fenders and rear bedsides. The quality of the vehicle’s new finish works as a rolling promotional item for Chris’s own shop, CJ Motoring.
The bumpers are from a Toyota and all of the LED lighting – including the clear tail lights, which are completely awesome – are also from CJ. The lighting package includes under-glow, because at this point, why wouldn’t it?
Inside, the interior is reminiscent of most tracked street cars with all creature comforts like carpet, sound deadening, and a radio retained. Corbeau buckets are affixed to the floor with Planted seat brackets, and a horizontal bar runs behind the seats to provide a safe anchor point for the Sparco harnesses.
A Grip Royal steering wheel replaces the large factory item, and the handbrake is a Twisted Images 6060 aluminum unit built for Wilwood master cylinders. The shift knob comes from We Are Likewise, while the gauge pod was handmade by Chris himself.
In its current form the truck has proven quite sorted at events, and it’s still quite capable on the street too.
While Chris did do much of the work to this truck with his own two hands, he’d like to shout out Beebani Customs, Alchemy Stdio 320, Rhode Fabrication, RZT Performance and Bavwerkshop for contributing with parts and wrench time when needed.
To bring things full circle with the intro, had Keiron not waded through the turbulent waves of Oceans City this year, then we’d likely never had the chance to feature this fine piece of automotive creativity. As a fan of both trucks and drifting I feel that would have been a shame.
How about you?
Photos by Keiron Berndt