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This 2005 Nissan Frontier Doesn’t Just Hang With the Toyotas, It Smokes Them

Posted in Features on June 20, 2018
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The Nissan Frontier has never enjoyed the aftermarket support of its main rival, the Toyota Tacoma. That doesn’t mean that these midsized pickups aren’t capable on the trail; it just means that you have to be a little more creative when modifying a Frontier. One of the best examples of creativity is Chema Gudino’s 2005 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab. Over the years it has been upgraded with a Nissan V-8 engine, coilover suspension, and even a solid front axle built with Nissan components.

Like many of us, Chema didn’t set out to build a rockcrawler from the onset. Chema bought the Frontier new and put over 100,000 miles on it as his daily driver before venturing beyond basic bolt-ons into the deep end of the modification pool. He did have some help along the way though, including from Nissan themselves.

“The Frontier shares the same frame as the Titan,” Chema says, “and it isn’t uncommon for people to swap in the stronger IFS components from the Titan into their Frontier. In my case this made the engine swap easier.”

The all-Nissan theme continues with the solid-axle swap. This kit from Rugged Rocks uses a fabricated front housing fitted with a Nissan H233B third member that has a 9 3/8-inch ring gear. While LS swaps and Ford 9-inch axles might be more common, Chema has no regrets about sticking with Nissan components as he explores new frontiers.

Owner Chema Gudino swapped in a 5.6L V-8 out of a Titan. The engine is cooled by a CSF aluminum radiator with dual 14-inch electric fans and wired with a harness from Driven Desire and tuning by Uprev. Chema reports that the V-8 actually runs cooler than the original V-6 did, and the five-speed automatic runs cooler as well. The large engine bay means that there is still room under the hood for the ARB air compressor, sPOD electrical management, and large PSC power steering reservoir.
Out back, Chema recently ditched his drawer system, camper shell, and swing-out spare tire carrier for a lighter and more compact system for the trail. He did retain the toolbox full of tools and parts and the Rotopax fuel containers. A new tubular rear bumper is next on the list.
The front axle was sourced from Rugged Rocks as part of the company’s solid-axle swap kit. It is a 70-inch-wide Diamond housing that accepts a Nissan H233B third member. These third members use a 9 3/8-inch ring gear and 33-spline axleshafts, although the side gears in Chema’s ARB Air Locker were broached to accept 1 1/2-inch, 35-spline axleshafts. The beef continues with Reid Dana 60 knuckles, Solid Industries hubs, and Yukon locking hubs. Steering consists of a 1.25x0.120-wall DOM tie rod and drag link with rod ends that bolt to the Artec steering arms. An 8-inch PSC hydraulic ram works with the Pathfinder steering box to turn the 37-inch tires with ease.
The front suspension is a three-link kit from Rugged Rocks. It uses 2x0.250-wall DOM lower links and a 1.5x0.120-wall DOM upper link, all fitted with Currie Enterprises rebuildable Johnny Joints. The 2-inch diameter, 14-inch-travel, remote-reservoir King coilover shocks are fitted with springs rated at 250 over 250 lb-in for a smooth ride and ample articulation.
The rear axle is a Currie Enterprises Dana 60 intended for a Titan. It is filled with 4.88 gears, 35-spline axleshafts, and an ARB Air Locker under the Ballistic Fabrication cover. Alcan leaf springs match the front lift height and make room for the 37-inch Pro Comp tires. The springs are complemented by Bilstein 7100 remote-reservoir shocks and a Currie Enterprises AntiRock sway bar.

Tech Specs

2005 Nissan Frontier
Engine: Nissan VK56DE V-8
Transmission: Nissan RE505A 5-speed automatic
Transfer Case: Advance Adapters Altas II 3.8:1
Front Axle: Diamond Axle with H233B third member, 4.9 gears, and ARB Air Locker
Rear Axle: Currie Enterprises Dana 60 with 4.88 gears and ARB Air Locker
Springs & Such: Rugged Rocks solid axle swap with 14-inch King coilovers (front); Alcan leaf springs and Bilstein 7100 shocks (rear)
Tires & Wheels: 37x12.50R17 Pro Comp Xtreme MT2 on 17x8.5 Pro Comp Rockwell
Steering: Pathfinder steering box, PSC hydraulic assist, and Artec steering arms
Lighting: Rigid Duallys, IPF 968s
Other Stuff: ARB Bull Bar, custom rock sliders and rear bumper, Badlands 12k winch with synthetic rope and Factor55 FlatLink, Sherpa 4x4 snorkel, sPod, ARB air compressor, Rotopax, Hi-Lift X-Treme jack, Tom Woods driveline, RuffStuff Specialties shock mounts, Ballistic Fabrication rear diff cover, Doug Thorley headers, Flowmaster exhaust, MasterCraft Safety Baja RS seats, Icom dual band HAM radio, HEP’s custom MOLLE (modular lightweight load-carrying equipment) door panels

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