Belltech Truck Story Spotlight #3

The build was a part of my recovery and healing.

Sean pictured with his son at Caliber Customs located in Madera, California.

For 40 years, Belltech has been manufacturing affordable, high-quality components that have been part of truck builds across generations. Sean S. was a local entry that shared his Belltech story and how this truck helped with his incredible healing journey. Our team had the privilege to sit down and talk with Sean at Caliber Customs in Madera, who also helped with the build, to learn more about his build and recovery.

I’ve been a Belltech and Suspension Techniques (now known as ST suspensions) user since the early to mid-90s when I was in my teens and twenties. My brothers and I began using many ST parts in our Nissan and other import builds from our B13 Nissan Sentras, my brother’s Datsun 510 coupe, an NX2000, and even a random Mitsubishi Eclipse GST for good measure. On all these builds, our first pathway to performance was through ST springs, sway bars, and other suspension components. The ST products were our bread-and-butter mods for being competitive in autocross and street driving.

Fast forward 20 years or so through a career, kids, and family responsibilities, and I took a break from my import builds. That was until my good friend decided to sell me his stock ’91 Nissan Hardbody in June of 2021. As I took ownership of the truck, I immediately jumped online and ordered a set of Belltech drop spindles, rear lowering leaf’s, lowering blocks, and Street Performance shocks. By the beginning of August, I had finished lowering it, and I was ready to move on to aligning it, but life would forever change for me on August 11th when I had emergency brain surgery at Stanford.

Unknown to me, or my family, I had a brain bleed that needed immediate attention and was placed in ICU. Through an awake craniotomy, the excellent Stanford surgeons, and by God’s grace, I was given a second chance and fully recovered over the next year or so.

During my recovery, one of my buddies and I went down to SoCal in October ’21 for the annual Japanese Classic Car Show. Going was a massive deal for me as I’ve always wanted to go to JCCS, but it was also my first time out of the house since surgery. I was so pumped to go that I removed the glove box cover from my hardbody and decided to have people in the Datsun/Nissan community who I respect and admire sign it.

Once I got home, I looked at that glove box cover and decided I would shoot even further than just finishing my build; I wanted to make it good enough to enter that next year’s JCCS show and be accepted.

So through the next 11 months, as I continued my recovery from surgery, I got to work on my plan for the hardbody. I knew I wanted to do something different; I wanted to incorporate some mini truck vibes but in a Japanese tuner style. I also knew there were three things in the build that I didn’t want to get rid of because it made the truck more of a truck to me: the bench, bed liner, and fat rear chrome bumper. I called them the three “B” s.

I started first with a set of period-correct SSR Auswuch wheels imported from Japan to get things rolling. I immediately handed them over to Terry and his sons at Eagle Dynamics. Terry and the boys did a killer job refurbishing the wheels and really set off the look of the truck. From there, I got a hold of Mikey, Matt, and Steve from Caliber Customs. They put together a beautiful custom stainless exhaust that includes a Greddy titanium muffler, a Vibrant resonator, and a custom one-of-a-kind equal-length stainless header; the header is gorgeous! The funny thing about that titanium muffler, it sparked an idea. Since I have a titanium plate and hardware in my head from the brain surgery, I decided to include titanium where I could on the truck. I didn’t want the titanium to overpower the build, so I tried to incorporate it as hardware and in a few interior/ engine bay details. I’m incredibly proud of the JDC titanium hardware and rivnuts, which I used to get the original Nissan bed liner to lay down flat after warping a bit from 30-plus years of valley heat.

I continued working on the bed of the truck and decided to display my OG Dyno/GT BMX bike out back that I bought in Merced brand new when I was 13. I reached out to Rohde Fab in Oregon, a hardbody guy, actually, and he designed some killer custom mounts for the bike with the DYNO logos. He also designed the tailgate spoiler I added to the back of the truck.

In the truck’s interior, I had a decent amount of work to do. The dash pad was basically thrashed, and I couldn’t rock a carpet dash mat, so I tried to get creative and used a carbon-fiber hydro-dipped Coverlay dash cap. I found a gentleman in Clovis who does hydro-dipping on the side, and I’m happy with how it came out.

Since I dig Porsches and the older look of houndstooth fabric designs, I ordered some fabric for the bench seat in a black/white pattern online, along with some claret tweed to go along with the OE maroon interior color. I designed the look of the bench layout so it almost appears like there are two seats.

The interior also sports a circa ’94 Momo Wheel/ hub and a green Kaido House horn button, which I was lucky enough to score from Jun Imai himself. I’ve been a fan of Jun’s for years and a diecast collector with my son, so this piece means a lot to me. If you look at my engine bay pictures and wonder why I used that random out-of-place green valve cover, there’s a story there too. I reached out to Jun and asked him if he would mind if I painted my valve cover the same green as his iconic Datsun 510 wagon. Not only was he cool with it, but he also offered me the leftover paint from when he repainted his wagon. So my truck runs some of the actual Kaido House green!

I wanted to keep the body intact on the truck’s exterior since it’s still original. Instead, I tried to tie the interior carbon fiber dash together with the exterior by wrapping the top of the cab and the metal tailgate spoiler with 3M 2080 DiNoc vinyl. WrapBros in Fresno took care of that for me, and they did a great job. I also used a Nissan Nismo livery that pays homage to S-tune/R-tune GTRs from Japan. I’ve seen the livery on cars before, but I’ve never seen anyone try to do it on a D21 Hardbody. I laid that out myself, and it was not easy, but I’m proud of the end result. Lastly, I mounted a Street Scene front valence to give it a sleeker, lower-appearing stance.

This build was beyond huge to me. This build WAS a part of my recovery and my healing. After the brain bleed and my surgery, I needed to prove that I still had it in me to be ME. I could make a plan, work hard, and execute it how I wanted to. I couldn’t have made my goal to be at JCCS and show my build without the help of my friends, my family, and some incredible local businesses.

From all of us at Belltech Sean, we thank you and look forward to sharing more of your stories!

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