Project Tank - Caleb's Xterra Build!

Caleb515 Nov 2, 2020

  1. Caleb515

    Caleb515 Test Drive

    Hello everyone!
    My name is Caleb and I picked up my Xterra a little over a year ago to use as a daily driver here in Chicago during the winter months. I've done a bit of work since then, but recently decided to take things to the next level with the build and wanted to document my progress. I love the idea of overlanding and hope to build this into something capable of taking trips in the near future.

    I searched for about a year looking for the right truck and landed on an 03' 4x4 in Tank Green (hence the project name). Picked it up for $1600 with 145k on the clock, 1-owner and dealer maintained since new. Only downside is it has been an Indiana truck its entire life, so there is some rust issues I'll have to address.

    Here it is when I first bought it:

    Forgive me as I never really planned to create a build thread for my "beater", so I don't have many photos to date.
    Aside from some mechanical repairs that needed to be done, here is what has been done so far:

    Maintenance Overhaul : Timing Belt, Water Pump, Valve Cover Gaskets, Plugs, Plug Wires
    Refinished All Exterior Plastics
    Adjusted Torsion Bars 1.5"
    Rancho RS5000 2.5" Lift Shocks
    OEM Nismo (Volk TE37X) wheels
    Thunderer Trac Grip M/T 285/75/16
    Window Vent Visors

    Which puts us to today:



    And why am I creating this build thread? Well, because I absolutely love the truck!

    My main project right now is completing a suspension overhaul. I have new shocks all around, but the bushings and ball joints are past their prime and I want to address things before they become an issue. I'm looking to replace pretty much everything up front (all arms / steering components) and really I'm deciding between two choices:

    Replace everything with original parts and stay PML and add a body lift. (I already have a 2" BL I purchased a while back, but would ideally go 1"). This is most affordable and I feel would be fine with the little I do go offroad.


    Upgrade everything and go for a complete suspension lift with reenforced steering setup: 4x4parts UCA, Grassroots centerlink, HD tie rods, ect. I think this is a bit overkill , but with the 33"s and cranked torsion bars I know it's probably the right way to go for longterm reliability / ride and this isn't a job I want to do twice. It's just hard to justify the price of it all !

    Stay tuned as I'll be updating this thread as often as I can and look forward to your comments and input!
  2. Jwelch

    Jwelch Bought an X

    Welcome to Xn! This build is looking great so far, I have always loved the look of stock height first gens with big tires.

    If you are planning on driving this on the road a lot the upper control arms will pay for themselves in the form of not blowing through tires every 10k miles. I would say start with a idler arm brace, the idler arms bend very easily, as well as the solid idler arm bushings. Follow this the UCA's, wheel that for a bit and slowly make your way to a built steering setup depending on how hard of stuff you wheel you might find that you don't need the rest of the upgraded steering components. In my opinion Body lifts are only going to raise your center of gravity for maybe a little bit of wheel well clearance, they don't make it more capable off road just allow your tires not to rub So again depending on how hardcore you want to go a little bit of trimming might be a better route to to keep the Center of gravity down for side hilling and road worthiness. FYI with the rear corner plastics and bigger tires make sure they don't come loose from rubbing, the plastic will rub through the paint and start rusting quick with the salt on the roads I had this happen so now my rust free X has a bit of rear quarter panel rust. Just my two cents

    Can't wait to see more about your build!
  3. TheCrabby1

    TheCrabby1 Skid Plates Supporting Member

    Burtonsville, Md
    Welcome aboard ! nice gen 1 , keep an eye on the wheel well trim as it tend's to hold dirt/salt/water and all kind's of badness for the metal. I pop mine off my 05 2nd gen and clean and wax that spot after I found some rust lurking under there !!
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2020
  4. Caleb515

    Caleb515 Test Drive

    Thanks guys!

    Unfortunately the rear quarters already have a bit of rust, I actually left the plastic wheel well trim on to cover it up. The plan is to hopefully get the suspension / drivetrain sorted during winter and then take care of some rust repair after (probably around March / April).

    jwelch - thank you for the recommendation!
    Looks like I need to do some more research. I’m usually the type to go “all or nothing”, but maybe a mix of some upgraded parts and some original may suite my needs a bit better. I’ve only put 2k-3k miles on since raising the front and installing these tires so I haven’t really had a chance to notice much wear. But definitely something to keep in mind.
  5. Zack.

    Zack. Wheeling Supporting Member

    Livermore, CA
    Welcome! Love that color, and the te37x wheels. Had a set of the silver that I never got a chance to install on my hardbody before I moved to the 2nd gen X. Still regret selling them.
  6. TerryD

    TerryD Total Tease Supporting Member

    Covington, Va
    Welcome! That's a great looking X! The color combo and wheel/tire fitment looks awesome!

    I'm looking forward to seeing what you do with it!
  7. Slapdash Racing

    Slapdash Racing Bought an X

    Eastern CT
    Looks good and great color! Haven't seen that one before.

    I just did a 3" lift on mine and don't regret it a single bit.

    Good luck with the build!
  8. Fromfrontier2Xterra

    Fromfrontier2Xterra I bought a Taco Super Moderator Supporting Member

    All over PA
    Nice looking rig. Love the color.

Share This Page