A Solid-Axle-Swapped Salvation Army Special
A wash in a sea of Jeeps, it was. Curious, we were. Closer, we edged. Photos, we took. Enlightened, we became.
All allusions to green Jedi Knights aside, we don't see a ton of Nissans on the trail, let alone a hard-core trail such as Moab Rim. The Moab Rim Trail takes all who dare on a winding course that climbs from the banks of the Colorado River all the way to the top of the red, sweeping rocky terraces that characterize off-roading in the four-wheeling magnet that is Moab, Utah. If your tires are too small, Moab Rim will let you know. If your engine doesn't like to run at angles, Moab Rim will let you know. If your axle or transfer case gearing is too tall, Moab Rim will let you know. Your rig will return from the trail with several dented body panels, a fried clutch, and a driver with frayed nerves. Instead, this Nissan Hardbody made Moab Rim high on the fun factor instead of high on the pucker factor.
The SAS Nissan lived most of its life as a beast of burden for a glass company. When the pane-hauling days were done, it was donated to the Salvation Army and put up for auction. The winning bidder chose to sell his new prize instead of hanging onto it. Calmini's Steve Kramer saw the ad, forked over the cash and brought the Nissan home to his Bakersfield, California, facility and began transforming the truck into what caught our eyes in Moab. Calmini's acquisition saved the Salvation Army Special from what otherwise may have been a dreary retirement as a daily-driven beater. Instead, the truck gets treated to cool new parts and scenic trailside vistas.
Check out the rest of the photos and captions to see what makes this truck stand out as a capable trail rig. We were glad we took a closer look.
SAS: Calmini Style
Solid-axle swapping is a fairly common practice for trail trucks these days. For hard-core trail use and all-around simplicity and durability, nothing beats a solid front axle. Until Calmini undertook developing the bracketry, Nissan owners were on their own if they decided to ditch their control arms in favor of a solid front axle. Calmini's front spring hangers weld into place, and work in tandem with a pair of Calmini shackles that pivot from strategically placed frame sleeves. The boxed spring plates offer laser-cut accuracy and double as bumpstop strike plates. This Dana 44 has been fitted with a Calmini steering arm that places the tie rod above the leaf springs for easier steering and improved ground clearance. Solid-axle swap kits allow trail enthusiasts to build bomb-proof trail rigs from modern machinery. Modern machinery offers superior engine performance and more creature comforts compared with the carbureted, Spartan-appointed trucks of the past.
For more information: www.calmini.com