Jay Duca from the Low Standards YouTube channel operates on an entirely different frequency to most humans. We’ve written about his exploits in other articles, but by far and away one of his most ambitious (or bewildering) projects is this Nissan Prairie.
Never heard of a Nissan Prairie? Neither had we until we watched Jay’s video about finding it in a field. “My brother actually used to own this very car 18 years ago! We drove it to Summernats with a car load of mates for years. By chance, I rocked up at a guy’s house and there it was sitting under a tree. I recognised it instantly,” he begins of how Nissan’s least-known people mover became Duca property once more.
Jay’s is a first generation Prairie and is fairly typical of Japanese people movers from the early-to-mid 80s. They’re not as common on Aussie roads as Toyota’s Tarago or Mistubishi’s Nimbus though, and at the risk of flexing our impressive knowledge or forty year old JDM seven seaters, we’ll probably leave the history lesson there.
Jay insists that his plan was to tidy the car up and relive his youth by putting the car around Adelaide in standard form, but anyone familiar with his YouTube channel knows that was never going to happen. As you can see, he’s midway through grafting the Prairie on to a modified Corolla KE70 chassis. The vehicle has been bodydropped and achieves that impressive ride height using coilovers instead of airbags.
“Any car will look better when it’s low. At all costs I make shit as low as humanly possible. I guess that stems back to my dad who chopped the springs in his brand new EA Falcon when we were kids!” laughs Jay.
Impressively, Jay is entirely self-taught and the vehicles are all largely DIY - that goes for both his YouTube editing and his fabrication skills! “I’ve been building cars like this forever - I probably should have started a YouTube channel ten or fifteen years ago! We just don’t overthink it; we just cut it up and make it work. If I get stuck I’ve got really talented mates that can come and help me put it all back together, but it always works out. They’re hardly show quality, but they run and drive,” he says, his voice audibly dripping with excitement.
Sitting between the Corolla/Prairie strut towers is a 3.2-litre stroked 2JZ engine that Jay will leave naturally aspirated. It replaced the east-west four banger that came fitted to the family wagon, and means that the Prairie has copped a custom trans tunnel and will get a diff’ in the rear to complete the drivetrain.
“I’ve been bringing containers of parts in from Japan forever. I used to bring three or four in a year - I’d go over and cut everything up and load them, then sell enough parts to mates when they landed that I could afford to keep whatever was left! I’ve got that many sets of wheels and probably over 50 engines that owe me next to nothing, so I can afford to do dumb stuff like this with them!” he chuckles.
Thankfully, Jay isn’t planning on destroying the Prairie’s unique patina, and hints that it might even make an appearance in Canberra next January. “For old time’s sake we’ll try and get it to Canberra, and other than that, we’ll just take it drifting.”
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