Subscribe to the Free

Never Bland: 1994 Nissan Hardbody

The Rise of an Ex-Shop Truck

Josh Fleetwood
Nov 1, 2011
Photographers: Josh Fleetwood
A lot of people that are involved in the minitruckin’ scene now got their start at an early age. Ben Bland of El Dorado Springs, Missouri, is just one example. When he was 14 years old, he got his start hanging out with some of the local truck clubs installing and working on minis and learning everything he could. He’ll tell anyone: Giving up on minitrucks just isn’t an option for him. Over the years, Ben has had many different rides including a crew-cab dualie, a Suburban, an S-10, and even a pretty cool Kodiak. This Hardbody, although not nearly as big in size as his other projects, is definitely one of his best builds.
Photo 2/8   |   1994 Nissan Hardbody Neverbland passenger Side View
When Ben started building the Nissan, his plan was simple—create a reliable, daily-dragging shop truck/parts runner built for the long haul. As you can see, that grand scheme went out the window. Far out. You can’t really expect a guy like Ben to quit going and stop at just average.
Throughout the build, Ben had tons of crazy things happen. One night late into the evening, he and his friend Scott were working on the frame and had to do some hacking. A little mishap with a plasma cutter caused the burning up of a set of new kicks, blistering Ben’s foot so bad that he couldn’t walk on it for a week. Then while out doing some trail riding, Ben broke his arm, leaving the truck untended for 10 months until it was healed. As you read on, you may notice that there is no brand name listed for the wheels in The Lowdown. Well, that’s because while out at one of the local watering holes, some random guy asked Ben if he was interested in buying some wheels and tires for $300. Oddly enough, they happened to actually be usable on the Nissan, and they’ve been mounted for some time now. To this day, Ben has no idea which brand or style they are, but it sure does make a great story.
Photo 3/8   |   1994 Nissan Hardbody Neverbland interior Seats
Then came the best day of the build—seeing it loaded on a trailer headed to a show. But if you ask Ben the greatest thing about the truck, he’ll quickly admit that the friends he has made over time is what he holds valuable. He always talks about all the people that were involved in helping him with his truck and how it shows off the great talents of theirs. Something else he is always going on about is how great the scene is and how good of time he has meeting new people and getting into trouble with old friends. Trucks come and they go, but great company is the glue that keeps his interest in building trucks together.
Owner: Ben and Jessica Bland
Ride: 1994 Nissan Hardbody
Hometown: El Dorado, MO
Club: Negative Camber
The Lowdown

Rolling Attire

Wheels: 18-inch mystery wheels that have been affectionately named "Drunk Stars"
Tires: 18-inch Hankook Ventus HRII
Photo 4/8   |   1994 Nissan Hardbody Neverbland driver Side View
Chassis Modifications

Suspension Front: 'Bags on arms
Suspension Rear: 'Bags over axle and a four-link
Control Arms: Custom lower arms and locator braces
Shocks: Nope
Compressor(s): Two Viair 380s
Air/hydro accessories: 1/2-inch Blitzluft valves, AVS nine-switch billet box and polished 1/2-inch copper line
Frame Mods: Z'd the front, custom-built the rear half and moved and smoothed the rear crossmembers
Brakes: Stock
Misc.: Moved all upper control arm mounts, all new brake and fuel lines
Performed By: Ben Bland Customs
Body Modifications

Shaved: Hood cowl panel, fuel door, taillights, firewall, windshield wipers, and antenna
Bodydrop: Traditional 2-3/4 inches
Body Mods: Flush-mount LED taillights, Cal combo, flared bedsides, trailer fenders
Bolt-ons: 4WD fenders, Checkmate bed cover
Misc.: The truck used to have a walk-through, so the whole back of the cab had to be put back in
Performed By: Ben Bland Customs

Brand & Colors: DuPont ChromaPremier color and clear, Ford Skittles Orange with 200 grams of Hot Hues Pearl and Lexus Sand Drift
Performed By: Ben Bland Customs

Seats: '00 Saturn ION seats recovered in light sand vinyl and light ostrich by Rods and Rides
Dash: Hand-laid fiberglass
Gauges: None
Misc.: Billet Specialties window cranks, B.A.D. steering wheel, Lokar handles, custom center console
Performed By: Ben Bland Customs
Head Unit: Alpine 9887
Mids and Highs: Two Soundstream TRA680.44ch
Subwoofers: Four 10-inch Soundstream TRA-10
Amplifiers: Soundstream TRA-1000.2 two-channel
Misc.: Custom amp rack
Performed By: Ben Bland Customs

Engine: 2.4L
Intake: Stock
Header/exhaust: Stock
Transmission: Five-speed
Detail work: Wiring moved from firewall to under the dash, custom trailer fenders
Misc.: Smoothed and Speedliner coat under the hood
Performed By: Ben Bland Customs
Special Thanks From Owner

"My wife for keeping me rolling, my father for not kicking me out of the shop, Scott for being there every minute, Leroy Ross, Gary Smith, Jason Fich, Jeremy Henderson from JL Customs, Chandler Calling, Craig Knightly, and Jeff More. This group worked 48 hours of overtime a week the last two weeks of the build to help me get it finished."



Subscribe Today and Save up to 83%!

Subscribe Truck Trend Magazine

Subscribe to:

Truck Trend

Subscribe Diesel Power Magazine

Subscribe to:

Diesel Power

Subscribe Truckin Magazine

Subscribe to: