1990 Nissan Hardbody

I was five years old when my father purchased his very first new vehicle: a 1990 Nissan Hardbody identical in nearly every way to the one you see above. When new, that torquey 2.4-liter four-cylinder would snap the truck sideways in second and send the skinny rubber at the live rear axle chirping through fourth. I spent every family vacation for years crammed in the back under a camper shell, plowing roads through blankets with my Hot Wheels while we buzzed our way north from Knoxville to Mackinac State Park or south to Orlando.

It suffered my long and laborious stick-shift learning curve and the even more painful slog to passable vehicle control.

Saturday mornings were spent riding around gnawing on a pack of poptarts with Dad at the wheel of our little red truck and Dire Straits on the two-speaker cassette deck. The faithful pickup piled on miles over the years until eventually, I grew old enough to take the wheel myself. By then, the paint had faded more orange than red, the chassis bore scars from a number of bumps and bruises at the hands of everyone in the family and the engine sounded like someone had dumped a bag of hammers under the valve cover every time I hit the starter. It suffered my long and laborious stick-shift learning curve and the even more painful slog to passable vehicle control.

I bounced it off of guard rails, rock outcroppings and other cars, but the machine never once came close to laying down. At some point, only the cab and doors remained of the original sheetmetal. It carried me through high school and into college before I turned my attention elsewhere, and Dad continued to drive the old Hardbody to work and back until just last year, when he finally gave in and drove what was left of his first new vehicle to the scrap yard with over 300,000 miles on the original drivetrain.

That little truck was ingrained in the heartwood of my family tree, and this 14,000-mile example in Salem, Oregon is an identical clone in nearly every way. From the gray cloth bench seat to the awkward steering wheel and homely looks, this little machine is the unlikeliest of time capsules, and if I had the $7,500 asking price, I'd pay the sentimentality tax in a heartbeat to have it in my garage. You can check it out over at Bring a Trailer or view the original Craigslist ad. Someone give this machine the home it deserves.
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