PETALING JAYA: Good things bring people together, and a passion for a certain Nissan ‘’Mother Trucker’’ is the glue that bonds members of the Malaysia Navara Club on Facebook.
When the Navara pick-up was launched in Malaysia seven years ago, it was touted as the biggest and brawniest sports utility truck, mustering a maximum power of 174bhp and 403Nm of torque from its 2.5-litre turbodiesel engine.
Looking reminiscent of the older Nissan Frontier, the Navara’s rugged looks endeared itself to those seeking a macho-looking truck.
Among them is 55-year-old Jeff Yap, who was among a group of Nissan truck and Navara enthusiasts in a media interview arranged by Nissan distributor Edaran Tan Chong Motor.
Yap has an extensively modified four-year-old Navara “Hulk” painted in army green, which looks like it belongs on a giant snowdrift.
Yap, a retired car workshop owner, was attracted by the brute power of the Navara.
His Navara “Hulk” monster snow crawler was inspired by Arctic Trucks, an Icelandic and Norwegian-based outfit that modifies 4WD vehicles for extreme terrain.
“I imported the parts to modify my Navara, and now, it is 90% complete. It still needs some gear modifications.”
Also present was 56-year-old Hassan Abdullah, who used to own a Nissan Frontier pick-up, before buying a Navara five years ago.
“I drove the Frontier to almost all the Indochina countries. It clocked 600,000km in six years,” said Hassan, who is self-employed and loves to go on overland expeditions.
His Navara has not been extensively modified, except for an Old Man Emu 4x4 suspension upgrade as well as off-road front and rear bumpers.
“My Navara has done 350,000km. I have driven up to Luang Prabang, Laos. My Navara with a manual transmission is very fuel economical,” said Hassan.
Another Navara owner is interior contractor Richard Lum, 37, who has a five-year-old Navara that has clocked 180,000km.
“It is my workhorse and hobby vehicle. It is fun to drive, and handles well,” said Lum, who once drove his Navara from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok.
Malaysia Navara Club members also include Chan Kok Wai, 39, who deals in 4x4 vehicle parts.
Chan has a five-year-old Navara which has done more than 300,000km.
“I use it a lot - for work and fishing trips with my kids.”
Chan is another Navara owner who upgraded from a Frontier.
“The Frontier served me well for nearly four years, during which it clocked 250,000km. I had to travel a lot as I was doing sales,” recalled Chan.
At the interview, the rose among the thorns was Nurul Hakiem, 33, who is a Coway Malaysia sales group manager.
Nurul drives a two-year-old Navara and enjoys its handling and sedan-like comforts.
“It is a great workhorse. I drive it a lot as I have to attend roadshows, and sales activities in Kedah and Johor,” she said.
Meanwhile, an off-beat guest was Michael Sudharshn, 22, who is the proud owner of a restored 1974 Datsun GB120.
“It is known as the Sunny truck. I bought it from the previous owner in Gombak, after a lot of pleading,” said the automotive engineering student.
Michael has spent RM30,000 in restoring the Datsun GB120, which is painted a brilliant red.
His efforts has won recognition as the Datsun GB120 took the “Best of Custom Retro Pick-up” award at this year’s Art of Speed automotive culture show in June at the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park, Serdang.
“I love the American muscle look of these classic trucks,” said Michael, who also had a Datsun 720 from the mid-80s and a Datsun 620 from the late 70’s.
He also recently bought a Nissan Skyline R32 performance car.
To help finance his passion, Michael restores classic wheels for other enthusiasts.