Owner: Benji Harless
Ride: 1998 Nissan Frontier
Hometown: Maynardville, TN
Club: Aftermath

This ’98 Frontier has been considered cursed by Mike Speck of SPECKtacular Kustom Graphics, but to owner Benji Harless it’s been nothing but a joy to own—even though the road to glory was a high-anxiety race. Having been given the truck as a gift from his father, Benji spent another four years afterward saving and lining things up before it finally evolved into its current feature condition. “This truck has been a long time coming, and I won’t mention just how much I’ve spent on the build—the wife could be reading this,” says Benji.

Buying a previously modified truck as a new project can be an awesome way to get a jumpstart on a full buildup, but in Benji’s case it just posed a big headache. “When my dad gave the truck to me, it was previously ’bagged, which sounds cool, but the work just wasn’t done right. I drove an hour and a half from home to my friend Eric’s house so we could get the air ride in decent working order.” With some changes to the air management setup, Benji and his truck hit the road with confidence and added to the small number of dependable ’bagged minitrucks in his hometown in Tennessee.

Changing out the air suspension isn’t the only redo that Benji has made to the truck since it has been under his ownership, however. “The only thing on this truck that hasn’t been reworked or replaced from the previous owner is the front billet grille inserts.” Everything else from the nose to the ass end has been changed since the days when the Nissan was new to Benji. A ton of bodywork was needed before it was to take on new paint and a complete interior overhaul. But once the ball of chaos started rolling, the whole process quickly picked up steam and the transformation was done just in time for Layd Out at the Park ’11. “The worst part about this whole ordeal was waiting. I felt like I was going to be sick half of the time because I didn’t know if the truck would be done in time.”

The Frontier was completed in time, which would be a monumental mark in time for anyone neck deep in such a project, but for Benji, the final hour couldn’t be clearer. We asked him when was the truck was finished, and he gave us this response without even the slightest hint of comedy: “Friday April 8, 2011, at 7:15 p.m. Oh, and it was shot the very next morning at 6:30 a.m.” One could argue that rushing a build of this caliber to meet the deadline of debuting at a show might be a bit hasty, but upon digging deeper we found out there was a more serious time bomb ticking away above Benji’s head. “When my wife and I found out she was pregnant, I said to myself that if I ever want to finish with my truck, it’s now or never.”

The Lowdown

Rolling Attire

Wheels: 18x8 Raceline Deceptive 6
Tires: 225/40/18 Kelly rubber

Chassis Modifications

Suspension (front): DJM 2-inch drop spindles and Slam Specialties RE6 ’bags
Suspension (rear): FBI four-link and Slam Specialties RE7 ’bags Control Arms: Stock
Shocks: Monroe
Compressor(s): Two Air Lift 450s
Air/hydro Accessories: Eight 1/2-inch SMC valves
Frame Mods: C-notch and custom cage for compressors and tank
Performed By: Eric Mendenhall at FatBoyCustoms

Body Modifications

Shaved: Antenna, third brakelight, taillights, gas door, hood pissers, and tailgate handle
Bodydrop: 3-1/2-inch traditional
Body Mods: Old Suburban gas lid in sheetmetal bed, Vortex bedliner
Bolt-ons: Pathfinder chrome mirrors
Misc.: Vertical LEDs where taillights were, billet grille inserts, Grant Kustoms rollpan
Performed By: Mike Speck, Jimmy Kiser, and David Duncan

Paint

Brand & Colors: Valspar ’96 Porsche Riviera Blue and ’10 Chrysler Plum Crazy
Misc.: Airbrush beveled trim, shadowed and blue pearl over graphics
Performed By: Mike Speck

Interior

Seats: ’95 Nissan Hardbody covered in crocodile and Allante vinyl
Misc.: Raceline Deceptive steering wheel, hot-rod-style door panels, lap belts, billet cranks, suede headliner
Performed By: Jonathon Chasteen at Kustom Stitch, Mike Speck, Matt Owens, and owner’s father

Stereo

Head Unit: Kenwood
Mids & Highs: Kenwood 6-1/2
Performed By: Robbie Bone

Engine/Performance

Engine: 2.4L
Transmission: Automatic
Detail Work: Josh Lynch
Misc.: K&N air filter, parts shifted around after bodydrop
Performed By: David Duncan

Special Thanks From Owner
“Thanks to God, Emily and Abel, my dad, Eric Mendenhall, Mike Speck, Jonathon Chasteen, Chuck at Raceline, Midway Body Shop, David Duncan, my Aftermath family, Davy Caldwell, Casey Corum, and Jan’s HO-made cookin’. This build is dedicated to my mom, who lost her life to cancer. I miss her everyday.”

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