When Chicago-area delivery driver Brian Murphy bought his five-speed Nissan Frontier in 2007, he set a very specific goal for the red four-cylinder truck: 1,000,000 miles. On January 27, the digital odometer stopped at 999,999 miles.
Though most, if not all, of us demand reliability in a vehicle whether used or new, we rarely quantify that standard—or average 77,000 miles a year in our commutes. Brian Murphy has delivered various goods—the weirdest being a 200-pound wheel of cheese—for Quick Delivery for 16 years, entirely without a GPS. The biggest repair he’s done? Replacing the clutch, at 801,000 miles.
Though the transmission did come out for that repair, the manual box has never faltered. “I thought it would hold up better,” Murphy says. “Less maintenance—I figured an automatic would need to be replaced around 250,000.” Other than the clutch, his list of required repairs is brief. Water pump around 600,000, the alternator and radiator twice (each lasted around 450,000 miles), and the driver’s seat at the half-million mark.
How does it feel, 13 years later, to achieve his goal? “Very fun,” Murphy says with a smile, his hand resting on the well-worn shifter.
On the right rear fender of the Frontier there’s a trace of rust, but Murphy says that’s the only spot, and in all his years of Midwest driving, he’s never needed to take any preventative measures. Would he change anything to improve the truck? “Not that I can think of,” he says, “but where the fenders flare around the wheels, they do get rock-chipped easily.”
Ironically, Murphy’s success is the direct cause of his separation from his trusty truck. Nissan, whose PR team heard about the truck last May and tracked along with Murphy’s success, plans to honor the Frontier with a spot in the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, Tennessee. The museum sits about an hour-and-a-half north of Dechard, Tennessee, where the final batch of current-gen Frontiers will be built with, as we predicted, a new V-6 engine displacing 3.8 liters, paired with a nine-speed automatic gearbox. However, Nissan made Murphy’s replacement Frontier shopping extremely easy, gifting him a 2020 model to replace the million-miler—more specifically, the keys, since 2020 truck production won’t begin until April.
“I never imagined I’d be given a new truck, especially since my Frontier is still running strong,” Murphy says. “It will be a real treat to have an efficient V-6 engine, but I guess I’ll have to find another way to exercise now that I’ll have an automatic transmission and power windows.”
That new motor will carry over to the next, completely rehauled generation, Nissan says. The 301-horsepower engine boasts 93-percent new or redesigned parts and improves on the previous Frontier V-6 by 49 hp. Fuel economy should also improve.
As for Murphy? “My truck deserves to rest, but I’ve got to keep busy,” he says. When the 2020 Frontier is delivered, Murphy’s new ride will join his wife’s Maxima and his 1969 Z/28 Camaro at their Chicago home. Keep on truckin’, Brian.