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Project 2005 Nissan Nismo Frontier, Part 6: Suspension

Posted in Project Vehicles on April 1, 2007 Comment (0)
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Photographers: Ken BrubakerCourtesy of Calmini

Our Nismo Frontier has gathered a sizable fan base in the last two years. Reader feedback is never without praise for our midsize project and its bolt-on nature. However, we're often questioned about which suspension system we installed under our Nismo. Unfortunately our response is not always what people expect, let alone want to hear. You see, when we were in the market for a lift kit, the Frontier platform was new from the ground up, and suspension options were extremely limited. This was a royal pain in the rear for us because we wanted to improve the stock setup. So instead of getting mad about it, we converted our frustration into progress, volunteering our truck as a guinea pig to a select few aftermarket suspension manufacturers, hoping to jumpstart our favorite midsize platform in that particular area of upgrades.

First, we dropped the vehicle off at Calmini of Bakersfield, California. Calmini specializes in the import market and jumped at the opportunity to mock up an affordable cosmetic drop-bracket-style lift kit for us. The kit Calmini prototyped, although not intended to drastically improve trail performance, did raise the vehicle 5 inches, which allowed fitment of 33-inch tires. Along with the improvement in ride height came an additional inch of ground clearance, thanks to an intelligently designed lower front crossmember.

PhotosView Slideshow

Next, we dropped our project off with the capable designers of Total Chaos Fabrication of Corona, California. Total Chaos is well known for building high-quality long-travel suspension systems for desert racers and prerunners. After about a week with these go-fast experts, a new tubular upper control arm was refined and fit-tested on our truck.

Finally, we decided to consult our friends in the R&D department at Light Racing for a much needed "mobility improvement session." These guys are all about secondary suspension (air bumps), and the products they build are second to none. Our session resulted in a new application for Light Racing's sweet new Compact Jounce shock line. We like Jounce Shocks because they allow increased speed and mobility by removing the harshness from a bottom-out event. Light Racing's engineers used our truck to design, fabricate, and test a set of mounting brackets for the new system.

The results of all our time and energy are significant to Frontier owners because now there are actually a few suspension options available for public consumption.

PhotosView Slideshow
PhotosView Slideshow
The Total Chaos UCA kit comes complete with high-misalignment spacers, urethane bushings, inner sleeves, bumpstop pads, and Grade-8 hardware. We like these because they solve two important issues and feature user-serviceable 1-inch uniballs.

This is the new tubular upper control arm (UCA) by Total Chaos. These arms are designed as a bolt-on system that eliminates the factory ball joint and provides a 1-inch Teflon-lined uniball instead. We can't quite figure out why, but all '05-and-up Nissan Frontiers have a weird problem where the factory upper control arms contact the coil bucket during full droop. The contact is often amplified when aftermarket coil spacers are installed. These new tubular arms incorporate urethane droop stops, which contact the coil bucket instead of the arm, thus eliminating the problem. These arms also add caster, which will aid in vehicle cornering and overall handling, both on- and off-pavement. They also assist in correcting alignment issues when aftermarket lifts are installed. These arms are manufactured using 4130 chromoly tubing and come powdercoated silver with an additional layer of clearcoat. In some cases, these arms will actually allow for slight gains in wheel travel. The system is 100 percent bolt-on and requires no drilling or welding. The arms can be installed on any Frontier, Xterra, or Pathfinder. Zerk fittings are included to lubricate the urethane bushings and inner sleeves while bolted on the vehicle.


Toyo Tires
Total Chaos Fabrication
Corona, CA 92880
Deaver Spring
Santa Ana, CA 92701
Light Racing Div. of Specialty Products Company


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