Off-Road Nissan Frontier Runs Custom Suspension That Will Break Your Brain

It’s only the most overcomplicated solid rear axle setup some folks will ever see.

byJames Gilboy|
Trucks photo
Wheel Every Weekend via YouTube


Nothing complicates a build quite like radically changing the goal halfway through. So, when the owner of a Nissan Frontier upped the ante in the midst of a serious desert runner build, the shop designing it had to fab up a custom suspension setup that seems like it shouldn't work. And yet, it does.

The build was documented on YouTube channel Wheel Every Weekend, which is building a 2012 Nissan Frontier desert truck. Their customer first wanted a spring-under leaf spring rear suspension and flatbed, but then changed their mind and added an exo-cage. That's when the shop realized packaging was quickly getting out of hand, and that its usual solutions wouldn't work. So, they did the only sensible thing and totally redesigned the Nissan's rear suspension.

First, they switched to a four-link trailing arm design that was supposed to use a Panhard rod to keep the axle in place. But there was a problem, because the Panhard rod would've caused the tire to rub on the frame during extreme articulation. It would allow too much side-to-side movement. Instead, they went with a more complicated solution: the funkiest Watts link you've ever seen.

This type of mechanism is already found on the suspension of some factory off-roaders, such as the Ford Ranger Raptor. In essence, this set lets an axle move vertically, but not horizontally. Stability is key when you're crashing into huge whoops and taking turns at speed on the sand. What's particularly unusual here is that it's mounted laterally, and was basically built to the spec advised by a trophy truck racer. That means it's completely overbuilt, and doesn't restrict suspension travel like a Panhard might—it still allows up to 27 inches of travel!

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With all that said, these words can't do justice to how complex the build is, or how unusual the parts are that went into it. The best thing to do is watch the builder himself explain it, as long as you can follow along. I'll be honest, there were times that I couldn't, but that's what the experts are for.

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