Is This the Most Capable 2000 Nissan Xterra in the World?

A Nissan Built for Extreme Terrain

Harry WagnerPhotographer, Writer

Roco4x4 has a reputation for building high-end Jeeps in its Miami shop, so it might surprise you to learn that Roco4x4’s owner, Ricardo Olavarrieta, wheels a . . . Nissan Xterra? Yep, he and his crew took many of the same design parameters they use when building Jeeps for customers and applied them to Ricardo’s 2000 Nissan.

Before they could add 1-ton axles and 42-inch-tall tires though, the Xterra was covered in dog hair and had a blown engine—but every project has to start somewhere. Nicknamed the Iguana, this Xterra has wheeled all up and down the East Coast and in Moab, and even participated in the Petersen’s 4-Wheel & Off-Road Ultimate Adventure in 2011.

Prior to UA 2011, Ricardo put the Iguana on a diet, cutting off the smashed rear sheetmetal and removing the doors and rear hatch. He replaced the sheetmetal with tubing and was still able to shave 2,000 pounds from the Xterra, making it more capable and reliable on the trail.

Recently Ricardo completed an eight-day wheeling trip across Honduras, where the Iguana had no issues breaking trail for much newer and more expensive Jeeps. The huge tires rolled over everything in their path. The engine doesn’t make enough power to break the built 1-ton axles. The leaf spring suspension is simple and reliable. Ricardo Olavarrieta has demonstrated that these traits are universal no matter how many slots there are in your front grille.

Tech Specs

2000 Nissan Xterra
Engine: 3.3L V-6
Transmission: FS5 5-speed manual
Transfer Case: Factory WD22 with 4.10 Calmini gears
Axles: Dana 60 with 5.38 gears and ARB Air Locker (front and rear)
Springs & Such: YJ leaf springs (two packs combined) and 12-inch-travel Fox remote reservoir shocks (front); Skyjacker K10 springs and 2.5-inch-diameter, 14-inch-travel Fox shocks (rear);
Tires & Wheels: 42x16.5-17LT Pit Bull Rockers on 17x9 TrailReady HD beadlock wheels
Steering: Redneck ram with modified factory steering box and pump
Lighting: Vision X 18-inch LED light bar, Rigid Industries rock lights, Vision X Minidura reverse lights, Maxbuilt Trail Tail taillights
Other Stuff: Warn 9.0RC winch, Bubba Rope synthetic winch line, Bubba Rope kinetic recovery rope, Corbeau seats, Pro Armor harnesses, Teraflex hand throttle, Optima RedTop battery
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