The Original Nissan Truck Stuff
Bought: December 1990
Suspension Accessories Stereo
1985 Nissan 4x4
My first 4x4. Geez, it was so cool. I picked it up on my vacation coming back from Izmir, Turkey. My Mustang (another story) had developed all sorts of engine problems sitting in storage for 15 months, despite my storage preparations, which were outlined by Mustang Magazine...oh well.
I was driving the Mustang home from a friend's house one night, and it coughed, sputtered, puked, then died at the intersection next to a car lot. I was getting it started again and looked up to see the Nissan looking at me with "Buy Me" written on the windshield. Well, me and my weak mind had decided in that instant to come down and check this sucker out the next day.
With a promise of $7995 later, and after saying goodbye to my Mustang, I drove the truck home and started putting in my stereo - which I took out of the Mustang before I traded it. Mom bought me the bed cover for Christmas. I had a blast driving my awesome new truck around Salt Lake City in the winter. My pal Rahn helped me discover that snowstorms in your first 4x4 are such a major blast - you just can't help yourself doing all those donuts in the parking lots and plowing through snowdrifts - just because you can.
I drove down to Goodfellow AFB Texas, my next Air Force assignment, and stopped in Abilene to visit my buddy Bob along the way for a few days. These two pictures were taken then. Imagine coming from 5 degree snowy weather, to 65 degree, sunny weather - naturally, I washed and waxed the truck. The next day, there was an inch of ice on the top and left side, and it was only 15 degrees. Texas weather sucks - you never know what you're going to get.
A few days later, I drove to San Angelo, home of Goodfellow, and spent the next 3 1/2 years customizing, maintaining, driving, and playing with my Nissan.
A few months after arriving, I took a trip home to Utah to attend my buddy Bob's wedding, and let a friend drive my truck while I was gone. Well, he had a problem with the truck one night - he blew the clutch - no biggee, it was a used truck after all. The problem was that he had to leave it downtown because one of his friends was too interested in having fun to help him get it back to the base where it would be safe...so it got broken into as well. Needless to say, I came back to my truck with a blown clutch, broken window, and no stereo system. I was not a happy camper, but at least John was generous enough to pay to have the clutch replaced. My insurance company covered the stereo replacement, but only after I replaced it would they compensate me - and I didn't have a spare $1800 laying around. After several months of hassle, I finally got the stereo replaced and they finally stuck a crowbar in their account and cut me a check. I dropped them like a hot rock after that - it was GEICO by the way. Oh, and did I mention that they suck, too? Even after 8 months, and several repeated phone conversations, they still had my Mustang listed - not the Nissan. So that explained their confusion when I used the term 4x4.
After that whole fiasco, I had an alarm put in by one of the local businesses - Sound Box of San Angelo. I got to learn the importance of learning how to install stuff yourself when they charged me $350 for a $90 alarm system. Of course, most of that was labor, but when I found the power lead wrapped around the blade of the headlight fuse and stuffed into the socket, I got pissed - I paid some serious money for that kind of piss-poor installation. Haven't been back there since, and I don't recommend anybody else goes there, either.
This started my whole trip of finding out that most of the local businesses absolutely suck, by the way. I've had better luck over the last few years, but you must be very selective in this town.
The first thing to go were those weenie little P-metric tires and the 15x6 rims they were on. I mistakenly ran up the balance on my Goodyear card and put 4 Wrangler AT's on 15x10 Chrome Modular rims on it. I call it a mistake because I should have gone with some cheaper tires and not had Goodyear do it. That whole trip cost me something like $1200 - way too much. Plus, the technician almost dropped the truck off a floor jack when he tried jacking it under one of the suspension arms, instead of the frame like he was supposed to. He even gave me crap about his own stupidity after it was all said and done. Another local business that sucks. Even though the wheels were majorly cool and gave the truck an awesome image, I'll never go back there.
I put the body lift on over the Christmas Break that year, which was a snap - even though I had lost the instructions at some point. My buddy Mike Schroeder was a major help - he was there during both days of the installation and Andy Elrod joined in the second day. We took our time because of the lost instructions, but it really was pretty easy. That was fun except that the lift kit had caused the power lead for the alarm to intermittantly short out against the steering column, which kept going off every couple of minutes one night. Fortunately, I figured it out before anybody killed me in my sleep and set the truck on fire.
In March of that year (1992) I got married and my wife loved my truck. She had helped me get my truck back together during the summer and fall when we were dating after it had been broken into.
Then a few months later came the nerf bars. A month or two after that came a push bar. Then some KC Daylighter Off Road lights. Eventually, I yanked off the rear bumper, got a bed mounted spare tire carrier with a fairly wore out 33x12.50 BFG All Terrain from my buddy Andy Elrod. I traded him for the weenie little (wore out by now) tires my truck came with so he could put on his awesome '78 Toyota FJ-40 Land Cruiser that he was rebuilding at the time. All he really wanted was the rims, so it worked out.
I've gotten pretty good at pinstriping, window tinting, and tape graphics. The stripes on the body came with the truck, but the cool window graphics, the Nissan logo on the windshield, window tint, and the stainless-looking rocker panel treatment was all done by me. I snagged the stainless tape from Western Auto and applied it one evening after work. It turned out very well, and works out to be a whole lot better deal than the aluminum rocker plates you can buy - the tape won't shatter if struck by something, and you can re-apply it for $19, for both sides. Plus, they don't make the aluminum panels for Nissans of that model - I checked. I also found out that aftermarket hop-ups and customizing goodies for the Nissan/Datsun 720 pick ups are few and far between. Most of what's available wound up on this truck eventually.
Over the few years that I had my first Nissan, I did a lot of mud-slinging. Mostly with a couple of buddies and in the south pool of Twin Buttes Reservoir - way back when it actually held some water. Now I mostly climb hils and rocks with my Jeep.
This picture has me and my pal J.R. cruizing through one of the fingers coming off the lake in about 3 feet or so of water. This is one of the only cool pictures of me actually doing anything cool with my truck, as I've found out that holding the camera to take pictures of everybody else, seldom gets pictures taken of you and yours doing anything. Plus, the Nissan tranny was giving me some major grief at the time - bad synchronizers - and not wanting to blow it up, I took it easy when wheelin' for the most part.
I had actually smoked the clutch earlier that day trying to get out of a minor rut that had developed in the lake where we played most of the time. That little puff coming from the front fender is steam hitting the exhaust manifold - no more smoking of clutches that day.
Sadly to say, my term with my first 4x4 had to come to and end only 3 1/2 years later in August 1994 when I started having engine problems. The truck was coughing and puking when you first fire it up and let out the clutch. After changing out plugs, wires, cap & rotor and timing the sucker, the problem persisted. Then I threw in some Split Fires, new coils, and bought a used carburetor, which my buddy Dave and I rebuilt and installed. No dice.
So I get this idea to take the truck to the Nissan dealership. Lynn Alexander's Autoplex of San Angelo. Hey, I figured: Nissan Truck + Nissan Technicians = Problem Solved. Right? Wrong.
As I was paying the bill, I saw my truck coming into the service pick-up area, but no engine noise...it was coasting. They handed me the keys and I tried to start it - read, tried. Since it wouldn't start, I called the technician back - had to yell, he was running away too quickly. He finally came back, and tried to start it. He then copped a 'tude with me, so I then demanded that he fix it properly - I had just given them $185 for it to work and they had called me telling me it was fixed after all. He adjusted and tweaked and got it to run finally - with the idle at 2000 rpm! Uh-uh, no way. I was not happy. So I told him that I would bring it back down the next morning and they would fix it this time, and unless there were some new developments - I wasn't paying another dime either. They reluctantly agreed.
The next day, I dropped it off as promised. They called me in the afternoon and informed me that they needed to replace the computer - and for only $1500. "WHAT?! What are you people smoking?!" I think was my response. A new computer was something like $150, and all they had to do was pull out my driver's seat to change out the old unit - it's a plug-in affair, and no adjustments are available..it either works or not. There was no way I was going to allow myself to get screwed like that, so I told them to put it back together and I would come get it.
A good friend of mine, who is also a Jeep Guy, used the term "Awfulplex" to describe Lynn Alexander's dealership, and I'm afraid that it's stuck with me. And it's a whole lot nicer term to use than what I really think of them. So Yes - these guys suck, too.
After some more failed attempts, and a seeing an awesome-looking '78 K-5 Blazer for sale, I finally decided it was time to throw in the towel on the Nissan and traded it in for the Blazer - which I got majorly hosed on that deal - by a local dealership no less - Walton Motors. That part of the story can be found on the '78 K-5 Blazer' page.
The ugly, ugly twist to this story is that I bumped into the kid that wound up with my Nissan, and he told me that he fixed the whole problem with some new vacuum hoses. I was instantly sick and pissed at the same time. Plus, he had beat the piss out of my poor truck - cracked the windshield, broken some headlights, and there was now a big-ass dent in the driver's door. Not a good day for me.
When all is said and done, I miss my Nissan - my first 4x4 and first truly enjoyable truck experience. If it had been a King Cab from the start, you can bet I would still probably be driving it to this day - no matter what. It would probably have a new paint job and a different engine or something, but you've got to figure that. I really miss it. Oh well, just a truck after all, I guess.