Back in 1999, Chad Lucas bought a '92 four-door Nissan Pathfinder with the intention of customizing it. He originally wanted to buy a Nissan Hardbody, but his mom and dad preached to him the virtues of having extra seats to haul his buddies around. Soon, he had a four-door Pathfinder with a fully chromed hydraulic setup installed on all corners and a set of ultra-cheesy Pathfinder wheels. Looking like a refugee from south of the border, Chad wanted more. Soon, Chad found himself rolling to shows and finding out that he had custom tastes that far exceeded his income level. When his cash ran short, Chad stopped working on his truck. By this time, he redid his hydraulics so that his Pathfinder laid out -- one of the first to do so anywhere. Before he knew it, Chad found a set of blemished 18s and 20s and cut out the rear doorjambs to try to make it all work. Keep in mind that Chad has no fabricating skills, but he couldn't help himself -- he had to have more.
At the 2000 West Coast Nationals held at La Paz County Park in Parker, Arizona, the Pathfinder was body-dropped, but it wasn't done cleanly. That's when Chad met a really quiet, often misunderstood fabricator from Northern California named Bob Grant. Grant approached Chad and told him how much he liked the truck. Soon, a friendship forged in steel was born and Chad found himself irrevocably drawn to Northern California to have Bob Grant work his magic on every square inch of the truck's body and frame.
Over the next two years, Chad made almost 10 1,000-mile round trips to Oroville, California, to oversee the work Bob Grant was completing on the truck. They worked side by side conceptualizing the buildup, making sure they were always on par with what Chad wanted and what Bob could do to further the original ideas. They spent countless hours on the phone talking about how the truck should be built, and ideas flowed from Bob to whatever piece of steel he was currently building for the Pathfinder. In no time, Chad found himself expecting the utmost in custom fabrication from Bob and from every show-worthy vehicle he saw. Today, Chad's learned that nothing compares with vehicles built solely to compete at the highest level of custom-truck show readiness. Chad still sees a few more trips and at least a couple of complete teardowns on the truck before he can consider the truck anywhere near complete.
The Pathfinder's custom one-off frame was built by Grant Fabrication to hands-down defeat anything that will be built for years to come. There isn't an inch of frame on the Nissan that ever spent time in Japan. Bob Grant and the crew at Grant Fabrication spent nearly a full month with three people working full time building the chassis that Bob now refers to as "Grant Fab Serta-fied." (You'll have to ask Bob for the details on that little gem, though.) For much of the 2002 show season, most people didn't even know that there was a body for the incredible chassis.
During the latter part of 2002, Chad worked closely with Grant Fabrication again to start building the body of the Pathfinder. According to Grant, the most challenging part of creating the body was to design the floorboards to lay tightly around the frame without touching it and to allow room for the headers and the monstrous engine that pokes through the hood. With the end of the buildup in sight, we asked Chad to get his truck ready for our third-ever Construction Zone special issue; and he and his closest friends have spent the better part of a whole month getting the truck ready for us. To Grant Fabrication, Chad Lucas, and everyone involved with the building of the most incredible SUV we've ever laid eyes on, we thank you. Now finish it while we're all still young, would ya?