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Serious 2001 Nissan Frontier

Posted in Features on September 1, 2012
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Some years back Aaron and Natalie Pennell acquired the 2001 Nissan Frontier truck you see here, but it didn't look much like it does now with the exception of the factory silver paint. The truck had been 'wheeled quite a bit and pushed beyond the limits of the stock Nissan drivetrain. They soon realized they wanted to build the truck into something more that could get them across tougher trails in the Southwest.

Since then, the IFS has parted ways with the truck, stronger axles have been added to linked suspensions, a stronger t-case has arrived, and rolling rubber has increased. Aaron has done a good majority of the build himself, working out of his carport.

Aaron welded up a front winch bumper that fits tight to the front grille, yet accommodates a Warn M8000 winch and its solenoid box. Aaron had John Kanicsar at Hunter Offroad bend the tubes and Aaron laid the beads to bring the bumper to completion. Tucked up high, it offers excellent front approach angle for the truck.

The Pennells now have a truck that is far more capable to get them out exploring their favorite areas in the backcountry. With a thoughtful approach to a tubular bed design, the truck can be set up compactly for tougher trails or reconfigured with more bed space for camping runs.

Aaron is still pushing for a little more strength in the drivetrain, and we've seen photos of a Dana 60 housing he's started building as a replacement for the front Dana 44. He hasn't experienced a lot of carnage with the half-ton axle, but he's looking to push the truck harder and the 1-ton-rated axle he has planned will allow him to tackle tougher trails with greater confidence.

Aaron found the stock IFS was certainly not up to the tasks he planned for the truck and its components were rapidly wearing anyway. Out came the torch and grinders, and the IFS dropped to floor. In its place resides a solid axle conversion. Aaron opted for a high-pinion Dana 44 spinning Yukon alloy axle shafts out to Warn Premium hubs. Locking those shafts together is an ARB Air Locker spinning 5.38 gears.

This isn't your average Nissan Frontier, and it wasn't meant to be. This Frontier sees regular desert use and has been built for more serious pursuit of trail fun!

Vehicle: 2001 Nissan Frontier
Owner/Hometown: Aaron and Natalie Pennell/Tempe, Arizona
Engine: 3.3L V-6 with factory supercharger
Transmission: Stock Nissan four-speed auto
Transfer case/low range: Atlas 2/5:1
Front end: High-pinion Dana 44, Yukon chromoly shafts
Rear end: Ford 9-inch, Dutchman 35-spline shafts
Ring and Pinion: 5.38 (front), 5.42 (rear)
Front Differential: ARB Air Locker
Rear Differential: Grizzly locker
Suspension: Custom three-link with panhard (front), Custom triangulated four-link (rear), 14-inch FOX Racing coilovers
Tires: 37x12.50R17 Goodyear Wrangler MT/R
Wheels: 17x8.5 MB Razor aluminum
Extras: Custom tubular bed, custom console with steering brakes, 2007 Nissan Xterra seats, custom winch bumper, and Warn M8000 winch

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