With gas prices rising, it's pretty safe to say most people are becoming penny pinchers. We are no different, and the idea of buying a new truck is just too scary at the moment. So what's a gearhead to do? How about buying a cheap beater that gets good gas mileage and mildly customizing it? The Nissan Hardbody was offered from 1986 to 1997 and can be found fairly cheap. They're a nice option because not only can you find them with gas-sipping 2.4L or 3.0L motors, but the torsion-bar front suspension takes no parts to lower.

Our events guru, Eddy Cebreco, just picked up a very clean Hardbody and was about to do some driveway wrenchin' on it. He wanted to lower the truck and add some retro-style rolling stock. Instead of taking the ultracheap way out and painting his rims red, he decided to pick up a set of '92 Pathfinder wheels on craigslist.com. Then, he had them powdercoated red and mounted up a set of BFG Silvertown whitewalls (see the price breakdown for how much that cost him).

Dropping the truck was pretty simple. It consisted of loosening the torsion bars and removing the bumpstops up front. In the back, Terry from Draggers Inc. installed a set of 30-dollar lowering blocks and removed the overload spring from the spring pack along with the bumpstops. Eddy will still need to pay for an alignment, but that's pretty much it.

The rim-and-tire combo Eddy decided on made the budget higher than what is actually necessary, so we will show you a much cheaper option. Follow along and see if you would choose the super cheap-o route or the not-so-cheap-but-better-looking route Eddy took.

The Truck
Here is Eddy's find: a high-mileage, but still very clean, '90 Nissan Hardbody. The truck is completely unmolested, but that is all about to change. After two trips to Pep Boys, a few hours of work, half a burrito, and 25 minutes of waiting for Eddy to clean the friggin' lug nuts, the truck was ready for the alignment shop.