Do you remember the very first mini-truck you ever owned? Of course you do. We know that many of our readers can tell us exactly what their first truck was and probably name off a whole laundry list of things they learned by practicing on the unsuspecting metal of their very first mini. Everybody has to start somewhere, and most people's very first project truck ends up being traded to the scrapyard just for the sake of trial and error, because it takes some serious practice to develop any skill. Somehow, though, J.J. Cumming's '87 Hardbody made it through the entire learning process to end up here in these very pages. You probably can't tell by looking at it, but this Nissan is J.J.'s very first guinea pig, and he had his hands on every single step of the build.

J.J. began the learning process by tackling the suspension. After many sleepless nights and a couple of tries, J.J. got the Hardbody's frame to lay flat on the floor. He employed Firestone airbags, Belltech drop spindles, and a Speedway reverse four-link to help with the frame-laying duties. J.J. already knew he wanted to body-drop the truck, but he also knew that if he just cut into the truck without any idea of what he was doing, his truck might quickly end up being one of the many sent to the scrapyard. Therefore, he enlisted help from Chris at the Mod Shop to body-drop the truck 2-1/2 inches. This way, he was able to learn what goes into a body drop without ruining his first truck.

After Chris and J.J. slammed the Nissan to the floor, it was time for J.J. to learn the fun stuff - body mods. After some trial and error, he was able to shave the door handles, smooth the cowl and blend it into the fenders, shave the hood squirters, and ditch the corner lights. He also decided to go all-out and match the 4x4 front fenders to the back by molding a set of 4x4 fenders in the bed. To make the truck really stand out, he knew he was still going to need the help of another expert. J.J. enlisted Bob Grant of Grant Kustoms to build a one-off Corvette skin and mold it into the rear of the Nissan. Grant also radiused the front fenders to smooth out the lines. Chris and J.J. finished up all the bodywork and prepped the truck for paint. The truck then received a healthy coat of DuPont Lexus IS Blue from Capauls in Sacramento, California.

With all this work, the truck was laying body with some significant body mods and a sweet blue paintjob. J.J. still was not ready to stop, though, because he still hadn't learned anything about stereos or the interior. When J.J. began to tear out the interior (again), his wife Alice was right there to help, as she was with the entire buildup. She actually took part in stitching up the seats, along with Jack's Top Shop. While the seats and upholstery were being handled, J.J. built a subwoofer enclosure to house the MTX amplifiers and two 12-inch subwoofers. He wired up a Kenwood head unit and set of Polk Audio 6-1/2-inch separates. J.J. also took charge of smoothing the dash and had it color-matched.

Once everything was put back together, J.J. drove it to his first show. You can imagine how ecstatic he was when we approached him to shoot his ride. He said that he learned everything from reading Mini Truckin' mag and watching Grant Kustoms and the Mod Shop get down on his ride. J.J. and his wife have really put everything they have into the buildup of their first mini-truck, and we're proud to congratulate them on a job well done.

The Lowdown

Wheels/Tires
17x7-1/2-inch Centerlines wrapped with 205/45R17 rubber

Suspension/Chassis
Suspension modifications performed by owner / 12-gallon air tank / two 317 Thomas compressors / 3/8-inch electric valves
Front: Belltech 2-inch drop spindles / 2,500-pound Firestone airbags / relocated Belltech shocks
Rear: Rear frame boxed from the notch back using 3/16-inch steel / 2,600-pound Firestones / Belltech shocks / Speedway reverse four-link / raised gas tank

Body Modifications/Paint
Body-dropped 2-1/2 inches by the Mod Shop / handcrafted Corvette rear end by Grant Customs / sheetmetal and Rhino-lined bed floor / 4x4 fenders / Toyota front bumper with billet insert / shaved door handles / smoothed cowl and welded to fenders / shaved hood squirters / shaved corner lights / shaved gas door / 4x4 fenders grafted into the bed / shortened body line / '97 Nissan hood / painted DuPont Lexus IS Blue by Capauls

Interior/Stereo
Upholstery by Jack's Top Shop and owner's wife Alice / Pathfinder bucket seats wrapped in charcoal tweed and perforated vinyl / matching tweed headliner / smoothed and color-matched dash / billet steering wheel / Kenwood head unit / owner built subwoofer enclosure to house the MTX amplifiers and two 12-inch subs / Polk Audio 6-1/2-inch separates.

Engine/Performance
Dual 12-inch Flex-A-Lite electric fans / modified air cleaner for body-drop clearance / chrome steel-braided hoses / billet accessories / airbrushed plastic covers / relocated Optima battery to bed / Flowmaster 2-1/2-inch exhaust

Special Thanks
J.J.'s wife Alice for all her hands-on help / J.J.'s family for their support over the years / Grant Customs / Chris at the Mod Shop