Re-Fixing It . . .

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I sometimes wish I’d gotten the V6 engine that was optional when my 2002 Nissan Frontier pick-up was built, because then I could use my truck to pull a small (4,000) lb. travel trailer, which is something I am lately interested in getting as a kind of mobile home (literally). I like the idea of having a fallback place to stay that I can take with me, in the event where I live becomes unlivable – possibly due to an unusual orange glow in the near-distance, courtesy of Keeeeeeeeeeeev.

Anyhow, as it is, my truck came with the standard four and so it cannot pull much. But it could pull more – and that’s what differentiates it (and other older trucks) from the new ones.

They pull whatever they are rated to pull – and that is (realistically) all they will ever pull because changing something major that affects pulling power – like the engine – is no longer the essentially simple bolt-in swap that it once was.

And still is, with an old truck such as mine.

I could put almost any V6 – including those not made by Nissan – in my truck. So long as it bolts up or can be made to bolt-up, as by fabricating custom engine mounts, it’ll work. People used to do this kind  of swap all the time. It is what’s meant by the term Hot Rod, which refers to the act as well as the result.

The manual transmission my truck came with will work with any engine it can be physically bolted up to. Just the same as the later-model automatic transmission (with overdrive) I installed in my 1976 Trans-Am works as if it were factory installed behind the big Pontiac V8, even though Pontiac never offered an overdrive transmission with its V8s.

If it fits, it’ll work.

And if my truck’s factory-installed manual transmission doesn’t bolt up to the V6 I’m trying to bolt in, all I have to do is find a transmission that does – and make it all fit.

And then it will work.

The reason being that – unlike the new stuff – my old truck’s entire being was not entirely Borg’d at the factory. Star Trek people will get the reference, which refers to an alien race that is a collective race. No individuality.  No deviation. Everything  . . . connected. A single Borg could not disconnect from the collective.

From the Hive Mind.

And so it is with the major (and minor) components of vehicles made since – roughly – 2010 and newer. They are all connected, each to the other and the collective makes up the totality of each vehicle’s integrated systems.

They are much harder to un-integrate.

It is no longer a simple matter of physicality to remove whatever engine the vehicle came with and swap in a different one because the Hive Mind computer that controls the collective will not run the different engine. It won’t work with the transmission you have, for the same reason. And it may not work with anything else, either – everything else also being connected to the same Hive Mind.

Replacing the Hive Mind – the computer – isn’t the simple matter it used to be either, because it is paired with the car’s corpus, it’s body. Via body control modules that control everything from the power windows to the dor locks. All paired with the Hive Mind. The gauges in the instrument cluster. In the newest vehicles, the audio and many essential secondary systems such as the AC and heat – are controlled via a touchscreen that is likewise embedded technology.

You would probably have to gut (and replace) everything in a late-model Borg’d vehicle to get a different-than-factory engine (or transmission) to work in the thing. This, of course, is mre trouble and expense than it’s worth – which is why it’s increasingly rare to see a late-model vehicle that isn’t exactly as-built by the factory.

Which is fine, if all you need or want is what the factory built. But it leaves you with no option to change what you’ve got – without chanhing what you’ve got. As in – buying a new/different vehicle that has what you need or want.

Not so with the stuff that was built before the factory Borg’d everything, like my ’02 pick-up truck. It has a computer, of course – but it only runs the engine. The manual transmission is purely mechanical, with no electronic-computer connections. It has (thank God) manual windows and door locks, which will work just as well with a big block Chevy V8 under the hood (assuming I could get it to fit) as they do with the factory installed four that’s currently under the hood.

The gauges might need to be replaced, but probably could be made to work with a different engine as they are not computer-controlled or LCD. The fuel gauge sender will work the same. The tach just needs a simple single and the speedo cable is a physical rather than electronic thing.

Basic wrenching, mostly.

And for that reason, well worth doing. I could put a brand-new Nissan-built crate V6 – the same type that was optional for my truck when it was new – for about $4,400. Half or less that for a good used engine from a salvage yard.

And it’s actually a lot less than that – on both instances – because the government won’t know about it. Were I to go out and buy a different truck – one built by the factory to be capable of pulling a 4,000 or so pound travel-trailer – the government would know about it.

And would tax me on it.

My state – like many – applies a personal property tax on vehicles, which is based on the “book value” of the vehicle. The “book value” of my 20-year-old truck with its little four cylinder engine is very low – and so, thankfully, is the tax. Also the insurance, another form of fleecing practiced by the fascist system we suffer under (fascism not being defined by goose steps and jackboots but by the consolidation of corporate and state power).

But my old truck with a new engine? Who’s gonna know? More to the point, who’s not gonna pay?

Why, that’d be me!

And that makes the possibility of buying the small travel-trailer I’m interested in a lot more possible, since I won’t have to buy a new truck – or pay the government for it, either.

. . .

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  1. Guys, guys, guys!
    Yer missing the point of Eric’s post.
    He wants to totally fly under their (collectivist) radar.
    Anything else that you’re proposing will cause him to “blip”, and bring attention to his activities. And have to (continually) pay mooore money. Etc.

    All I can say to you, Eric, is best of luck. I hope you can find the drop-ins and upgrades that you need, and make it work for you.
    And then find a tow-behind trailer that you can afford.
    NB: I have a small trailer (Casita), and the only way to connect brakes to both car and trailer, is with some kind of magnetic box add-on to the truck’s engine that activates the trailer’s brakes. And last I looked, several years ago, it seemed to me (at the time) to be expensive (about $1k, IIRC). Be sure to look into whatever trailer you’re contemplating, and find out how the brakes are activated/work.
    Again, best to you, Eric.

    • Ah, we get it, Prez….but sometimes it’s better just to pay the extra $50…instead of spending thousands to try to do something and still not have it as good as if ya just woulda paid the $50.

      That is also my premise with registrations and insurance, etc. We’re not free, and we’re not going to be as long as we live where the tentacles of the police state can reach and or use it’s infrastructure. It pays to pick our battles wisely. It’s not a question of being more free if we refrain from paying- for then I would gladly not pay- but often it’s just a question of $50 or $100…same as bribing the Federales in Mexico, to be left alone or to be able to do what we need to do…and doing so often results in overall less expense, and sometimes even more freedom.

      I moved from a place where property taxes are 5 figures. I would not pay that even if i were Billy Joel. But a few hundred bucks extra on an old vehicle that may in fact be taxed less per year than one’s current one, and which would be more functional than one’s current one will ever be for a required task being asked of it? It’s just one of the smaller costs we pay for living in the police state. Now if we talking about buying a NEW (or newer) vehicle and paying thousands in taxes, that’d be a different story…..

      I mean, I greatly admire Eric’s stance on principle…but sometimes it just pays to practical on the little things…..

  2. I know I’m happy. It’s American made, but mostly fiberglass clad without the leaky nailed on tin crap most of them have. And I got to tour it and hear it run before I paid him. 58000 miles on it, tires LOOK new but I’m sure are old. Sometimes a guy actually gets lucky…

  3. “You got the good one.”

    The parts salesperson at the Nissan dealership commenting on the V-6 4.0 liter engine, the V-8 had some troubles.

    Had to buy the crankshaft and cam sensors for the Pathfinder to get it back on the road, updated parts cost an arm and a leg, but they work. You can make hay and bale it too.

    Bought a Ford F-150 2005 with the much maligned 5.4 liter engine. The 25 mile drive back to the farm didn’t present any mechanical problems. I hope my hundred dollars is money well spent, well, maybe a few more shekels to make the purchase.

    I’ll go with the luck so far.

    It is going to get an oil change before licensed and insured. It can sit, fill the box with some unwanted junk to haul to the dump. Can’t use your Infiniti or Maxima to haul junk and garbage, makes no sense. Have to have the right tools for the job.

    The truck doesn’t cost a dime if it doesn’t move, when you want a truck, you need one, then one comes in handy.

    It’s a relic now, so it is worth its weight in gold, maybe not, but at least the steel in the thing.

    • Ooooo…Drumph,
      The 5.4’s were great injuns in the 2V configuration (I have one in my ’99 F250 which I’ve been driving for the last dozen years, and it’s never needed anything) but after ’03 they went to 3V configuration…and now they ALL have serious valvetrain problems, which renders them boat achors not worth fixing once they start ticking.

      • Nunzio:

        I started the engine and listened for the tick, no ticking. The timing chain is okay, me thinks.

        Drove it a mile and a half, didn’t have any issues as far as that goes. Could have driven back to the farm and just plain stole the thing, but I would be tracked down and arrested within 24 hours, so you pay for the ride, you buy the ticket.

        Always can buy a new engine if the one you have goes kaput.

        Have to take your chances, all vehicles have issues, got to roll with the flow and the punches.

        A lot of truck to have and behold.

  4. Could you tow the RV with the Trans-Am?

    Remember the days when you could tow boats, RV’s and the like with those big ol V8 large cars? When you didn’t have to buy a pickup to tow things? Put a hitch on the country squire and off to the lake…..

    • Hi Rich,

      The 455 makes prolly 400-plus ft.-lbs. of torque and so it has the gumption, but the TA’s body (which is a partial unibody) doesn’t! The engine/front suspension are cradled in a frame that bolts to thebody, but from roughly the cowl back, the rest of the car is unibody and so not meant to tow. However, you’re probbaly right that a full-frame sedan or wagon with a big V8 from back in the day, could.

      Maybe even a recent-vintage Crown Vic or “shamu” Caprice… I’m going to look into that…

      • Didn’t realize those TA’s aren’t full frame cars. But I guess that makes sense as the industry was moving away from frames at a quick pace those days. Kind of a “hybrid” of the 70’s.

        I imagine a Crown Vic or Caprice would be cheaper than any truck now a days. Though I think people are picking up the ones in good shape and low miles since there isn’t anything like that new anymore.

        Going away from framed cars wasn’t so great for car buyers IMHO. Remember when they sold unibody was going to bring more “variety” to the market? Now we have four everything and nothing else……

        But like todays tiny engines, the industry works very hard “selling” a much lessor thing than what they had before.

  5. escaping property tax…

    Countries With No Property Tax Where Foreigners Can Own Real Estate

    it does’t say if you get allodial title….not likely

    Maybe the rulers pushed everybody into putting all their money into real estate is because:

    The money can’t leave the country, it is trapped, if it was in gold, it might leave,

    it creates a huge amount of revenue through taxes,

    it is easy to confiscate, the owner doesn’t really own the real estate, they get only fee simple title, not allodial title, so it can be confiscated.

  6. Newer automotive technology isn’t necessarily bad, but in a lot of instances, MIS-applied. Particularly there’s been a lot more effort by auto makers to keep the parts, especially the various “brains”, as proprietary as possible, to not only cut out the aftermarket, but also to aid in planned obsolescence. It doesn’t matter to them that your eight-year-old ride is moribund due, not to needing a complete engine rebuild or a busted transmission, but to a small dedicated computer which probably cost them about $50 to mass-produce, and if they sold it at, say $200, they’d still make a handsome profit off parts sale. However, as the late John Belushi would have said, “But…NOOOOO…”, the offending cheap computer is already “Unobtanium”. Furthermore, often the wrecking yards are precluded from selling it from a junked vehicle, due to insane regulations re: emissions.

  7. Eric – the complication of these new cars is so much that even the DEALERs have issues changing anything !! A friend of mine some years ago wanted to get an upgrade on his BMW 2 series. I think it was a bigger intercooler and a couple other bits to increase power output, from BMW M Performance, at a main dealer recognised for doing BMW approved upgrades. The part swap was about half a days work. But it took a week to figure out how to get the computer to recognise and deal with it !!! (and the price was about the whole engine swap in your little truck !!)

    • Hi Nasir,

      Yup. It’s such a contrast to the days when you (and I mean you, not a shop) could replace the entire intake/fuel delivery system (e.g., swap out a factory two barrel/cast iron manifold for a four barrel and an aluminum manifold) in a couple of hours with hand tools and elbow grease. If I were to do this swap I’m pindering, it’d be ful analog, man! A carbureted V6 (maybe even a V8, which would be hilarious if I could get it in there)….

      • **”maybe even a V8, which would be hilarious if I could get it in there”**

        Then ya destroy your rear(s)…unless you change them too……. (Could even be an issue with the V-6 -especially with the added strain of the trailer, as the 4cyl.s usually come with the flimsiest rears….)

        [Eric steps on gas…pinion snaps right off]

        Remember….we’re not talking over-built 70′-80’s iron. These lighter more modern vehicles were built to lighter overall specs, and all of their drivetrain and chassis components are pretty well stressed at their rated capacities, and when ya start exceeding those capacities the weaker links will fail pretty quickly.

        • “Then ya destroy your rear(s)…unless you change them too……. (Could even be an issue with the V-6 -especially with the added strain of the trailer, as the 4cyl.s usually come with the flimsiest rears….)”

          Good point. Eric might as well just get another Frontier with the V6.

          • Hi Blue,

            My dilemma is I am done paying the bastards. If I buy a new (used) truck, the bastards will be on me for “property taxes” as well as forced “coverage.” If I upgrade my existing truck, I “owe” them nothing. It’s the same old truck, as far as the bastards know. Putting in a new rear in this truck is as easy as unbolting the old one. I think the way to go is to buy a rear from a V6 Frontier.

            If it weren’t for the bastards, I think I’d just buy a Tacoma. Or an old El Camino with a 350. That’d prolly be ample to pull 5,000 pounds. But – as I say – I am done forking over money to the bastards.

        • Nunz, hot rodding 101- after the new V8 breaks the rear end, you simply swap in a stronger rear end. Usually an easy swap. Usually also nets better brakes and bearings, to increase the load hauling in the Nissan.

          I learned way more engineering from hot rodding than I ever did from academics.

          • Eggsactly, Ernie! Thing is, when Eric’s truck was made, the Japs were still building ’em pretty light, and they really couldn’t compete as far as towing- they were pretty light trucks. It wasn’t till a few years later that they started beefing ’em up a li’l with more of an eye toward towing and overall capacity. So yeah, swapping out pretty much all drivetrain parts is a necessity…but you’re still left with a rather light vehicle that will be pretty well stressed-out in other areas. I mean, where does it end? Bigger, better tires? Helper springs? And still, ya don’t want to be near maximum capacity on a 20 year-old light vehicle that may not have the weight, frame strength, suspension performance etc. for such a load. With a bigger truck it wouldn’t matter as much with a relatively lightweight trailer and some gear, as the truck would have the overall weight and integrity to spare….and ya could just upgrade for more power if needed, and be home-free.

            Hey, remember when ya’d see a lot of those Nissan and Toyotas from the 90’s/early 00’s running around all jacked up with big tires and everything? I can’t remember the last time I saw one on the road…they didn’t last too long just having to push those big tires and maybe doing some modest wheeling (if they ever even left the pavement at all). -It always seemed to be that the Jap trucks back then were built ‘right to the limit’ with nothing to spare. Great for what they were intended for…but when ya start pushing them, even with upgrades…they either go south very fast and or don’t work so good.

            If I were Eric, I think I’d just buy an old straight-six manual F150 from the 90’s (before they downsized ’em)- Have the seller write a receipt for $500 to minimize the state extortion…and have a beefy rig to handle what-may.

  8. I would argue that this integration between the engine, transmission, and the car itself took place decades earlier that you’re saying in this article. Way before 2010 for sure.

    • It certainly did, Nate, but the newer it gets the harder the process is. Up to 1996 it wasn’t too bad to do. Usually on the newest stuff, the trick is to spoof the body computer into thinking it’s all stock. And it requires a lot of work physical and mental to pull it off.

  9. My bro’ and his wife own a Nash Metro, which, last I heard, still had the stock Austin engine.
    Maybe not for long though, as Keith is a died in the wool hotrodder, and he tells me there are at least two larger engines, one British (MGB) and one Japanese (Toyota) which will bolt right up.

    Of course, there are more radical possibilities, such as:

    which I have seen, and heard, up close. 🙂

  10. Eric, you make me laugh complaining about your Nissan pickup with only a 2.4 liter engine. From my perspective it seems huge, and I look to own a “huge” car engine a 4 cylinder with 1.5 liters because that is the smallest Toyota motor I can find sold in north amerika. Of course in Japan, those same cars sold here have much smaller motors, and same in Europe.

    I owned 5 of those Nissans pickups and my favorite was a 1982 720 model 2wd with a 2.2 liter and 5 speed, it got 28 mpg which I thought was good for a pickup – and it worked fine for towing light trailers.

    I also owned 5 Toyota vans (1985-1989 models) and most of them had the 2.2 liter 5 speed and they also got around 28 mpg, and I never had any trouble towing light trailers.

    I knew this jack Mormon in north Idaho who towed with a Geo Metro 3 cylinder. There’s no frame, so he fashioned sheet metal Tee through the rear body below the hatch.

    You can tow with 4 cylinders, but you can’t fly up the hills in 5th gear full speed. From my perspective all the cars today have way way too much horsepower – resulting in way way spoiled yuppies who always have to get somewhere right now, just so they can sit on their ass and do nothing when they get there. Like what are most people doing anyways besides sucking down giant frappacinos. How many people in brand new cars are actually working? I bet less than 10%. And they have brand new cars with shit tons of horsepower and every damn power feature.

    BTW 1982 was the sweet year for high fuel economy models:

    Just look at those mpg numbers from 40 years ago!

    IMO modern cars and pickups suck more than just gas.

  11. When I bought the Kupfer Ochse (79 F150) it had a badly knocking 400 V-8. An industrial 300-6 purchased for $220 from the local water plant, slid right in with minor adjustments and mated happily to the New Process 4-speed transmission. The ol’ ox runs well, is simple to maintain, and has great low end torque.

  12. A family member had a 2000 frontier with the v6. That was NOT a fun engine to work on. I’d say keep your little truck as it came if its running well. Buy an older full size SUV or pickup for towing that’s already rated for the heavier load. It seems like modified cars are always developing new problems, no need to do that to your perfect little truck.

    • Hi BlackFlag,

      I hear you. But – per my article – my dilemma is I am tired of paying the government every time I spend a little money on myself. Yeah, I could probably find a decent used Tundra or Taco for around $10k. But then the sticky-fingered parasites would be in my pocket for hundreds of dollars annually for propery taxes (based on book value), so thousands over say five years. Plus I’d have to “cover” the new truck, which would also cost more than what I am paying on my current truck (bare minimum).

      I’m not exactly rolling in money. Buying the camper is itself a huge stretch. But adding the cost of government makes it untenable.

      Now, if I were to modify my little pickup to be tow-capable, the bastards would not know and I would only be out what it cost to source the engine and peripherals. I could do this right for about $5k (my labor is free). That saves me at least $5k vs. buying the new/used Tundra or Taco – plus the thousands I’d be serially mulcted for by the parasites in government/the insurance mafia. The total sum amounting to prolly close to half of more what the little camper would cost me.

      PS: If I ever do manage to get the camper, I will do so in a way that the bastards don’t know about it, either. Not one cent will I pay for the “privilege” of owning it. Cash purchase in the name of Elmer J. Fudd, not-millionaire. Address unknown.

      This is my way of fighting back.

      • Eric, an early 90’s F150 with the indestructible 300cid straight six and a stick’ll do anything you need it to do, and last I saw they can still be had quite cheap…. and parts will be forever available and are cheap and common. Very functional for all else you’d need it to do in the wild, too- maybe even put a shell on the bed for camping in sitchy-ashuns where ya don’t want to lug a trailer around.

      • Hi eric

        swap in a VW diesel ……….want more power swap in the later 1.9 lt. azz VW turbo diesel with mechanical injector pump but no computer, or the newer VW turbo alh 1.9 lt. computerized diesel, these make huge power, just with a software tune, 450 lb ft torque or more stage 3 or higher tune, the VW alh diesel is swapped into many trucks anf off road vehicles.

      • “Buying the camper is itself a huge stretch.”

        Still don’t see why you wouldn’t go with the camper in a pickup bed or the suv type camper setup. Cheaper, more maneuverable, flexible… etc.

        I tow a 3500 lb. trailer sometimes. When it’s empty, uphill (in flat Iowa) or upon acceleration – it seems to me – my ’98 Navigator finds it a bit of struggle sometimes, I couldn’t imagine wanting to tow that much in mountain country with a smaller vehicle with a smaller motor. Doubly-so if it was loaded down and not an empty shell.

        I used to fish with a guy who pulled a bass boat with a manual Chevy S-10, I imagine that’s what you’ll be doing. Putting the thing to the limit every time?

        YMMV, I suppose. I wish you good fortune it whichever way you go.

        • Hi Helot,

          The camper-in-the-bed thing works if you have a 1500. My little truck has a narrow little truck’s six foot bed. A camper shell on top and twopeople could just barely sleep in it. Getting too old for that! Plus you can’t stand up. I’m fascinated by these small (20 feet or less) campers that have a little kitchen, a bedroom and (yes!) a bathroom with a shower. This one we looked at also has a “living room” in between the bathroom and the bedroom with a two-person sofa ideal for sitting and working. 12V ‘fridge that can be powered by a solar system. The thing is a complete home-on-wheels that would be comfortable to stay in for extended periods. I am very new to this whole bidness – but very intrigued!

          • After reading your bit about swapping out motors & such I started looking at D.I.Y. homemade travel trailers.
            There sure are a lot of interesting designs in the photos online.

            Imho, if you’re traveling/living in one with a woman, the cargo storage slide-out in the photo at the top of this webpage seems like a must-have:


            Anyway, I keep find myself staring at this ‘He-man woman hater club’ creation which must be a gigantic distortion of time & space, er something:

            ‘Millard camper…and a Ford Escort?’


            I briefly thought about dry docking a boat (treating it like a camper, not putting it in the water) installing a Tommy-Lift gate on the back or a big land-ramp/draw-bridge …just seemed too impractical.

  13. This reminds me if the time my FIL took a 350 out of a totaled 88 Silverado and bolted it straight into his 59 Belair yanked the old straight six and dropped it right in. This would be absolute fantasy with today’s cars. Hell my 05 sprinter’s ecm actually has a limit on how many key fobs you can sinc up with it. Once you’ve hit six you need to get another ecm or have it hacked, wiped whatever. These jackasses have literally limited how many “keys” you’re “allowed” to have…

    • If you do that today you rip out all the electronics and replace them with a user programmable EFI kit (Holley makes one), or you go the rest of the way and bolt on a carburetor.

      It adds cost to the project, but it’s not impossible to do.

      You may or may not be able to smog it but whether that matters depends on where you are, and probably won’t matter at all soon enough anyway.

  14. My rule on towing anything is you want to have twice the capability over whatever you are towing so you can actually accelerate and not have the truck strain horribly. My 2010 Tundra will tow about 10,800 pounds, so I feel really comfortable towing about 5,400 pounds. I’ve towed up to the limit and it felt OK, but the truck didn’t have much power in reserve to handle that load. I towed my Supra to the Cruising the Coast event (weird seeing a Japanese car in that Boomer classic car crowd, but I got a lot of questions about my Supra and people taking pictures of it) and the truck, packed with my wife and kids and all of our luggage, did amazing.

    I can’t recommend a Tundra as a tow vehicle enough. With gas prices up, prices on thirsty Tundras are way down and you can get a really nice example with 100k on the odometer for $12k or less. I got mine for $10k during the pandemic and it’s been great. Toyota reliability with the best V-8 rumble in the business. Putting a TRD exhaust has really opened it up.

  15. Brakes?

    (Does the prospective trailer have brakes? If not, the little brakes on your 4 cyl. will likely be quite over-burdened- especially in hilly VA.)

  16. Eric,
    My wife and I bought a used 2015 Retro Trailer (made by White River) which is a single axle 3500 trailer with queen bed, shower toilet combo, dining area and kitchen. Works great for camping or when Putin unleashes the big one.
    What vehicles will run after Putin releases the EMP?

  17. Between the new NFS Unbound Trailer and my love for Speed Demons, I think a 190e with a RB26 or LS2 and corresponding 6spds should be my next project

    Cant beat classics at all

  18. Sorta in the same vein, years ago I decided my bike needed a Joker intake and Vance & Hines pipes. But when I learned how much the computer gizmo to adjust the mixture was, I decided that the stock parts looked just fine.

    • Hi Mike,

      Yup. It’s why I love my old bikes, much as I like some of the new ones – like the K1600 GTL I recently got to test ride. Great bike. But – other than the most basic routine maintenance – essentially untouchable. Meanwhile, if I want to bump up the output of my ’03 ZRX1200’s engine to 180 or so hp – that’s the ticket! – all that’s involved is a set of cams, new pistons and a weekend’s wrenching.

      • If you haven’t already, don’t forget the K&N pods, a jet kit, and an aftermarket pipe to open things up! Even with those mods, a ZRX will shit ‘n’ git… 🙂

  19. ‘I sometimes wish I’d gotten the V6 … to pull a small (4,000) lb. travel trailer.’ — eric

    Just for reference … yesterday we were using a Caterpillar 301.7 mini excavator for trail building. The excavator weighs 4,200 pounds, and on its Big Tex trailer, approaches 6,000 lbs of towing weight.

    Its owner (who has decades of experience with wrenching) towed it locally to the trailhead with a second-gen Toyota Tacoma, equipped with the 4.0 liter V6. He commented that the Tacoma felt a bit overwhelmed with the 3-ton load, to the point that he would not want to attempt the 15-mile drive on a twisty road to the nearest big town.

    A 4,000-lb travel trailer is only two-thirds of the load described above. But then, the Frontier (I own a ’98 model with the I-4) is not as brawny as a second-gen Tacoma either — a situation that may merit further investigation and informal testing.

    • Hi Jim,

      I hear you. For my purposes, I think a 5,000 pound tow rating would be adequate. I’m not a cross-country guy. We’d be occasionally pulling the small camper (appx. 4,000 lbs) a couple hundred miles, maybe. With a larger/stronger V6 than Nissan offered – say a GM 3.8 – pulling 4,000-4,500 lbs. ought to be easy for this rig.

      • Eric, I just fell into a deal I never saw myself doing. I hate motor homes and campers, they are usually poorly built and prone to leak and melt down after only a few years. But while hunting for a 90’s full size conversion van for an upcoming cross country hunting trip, I happened on a 32 foot self contained motorhome in really nice shape with a 6BT (all mechanical!) Cummins. Gets just under 14mpg at 60mph. Freightliner chassis with a hitch if I want to haul the bikes or a car on a trailer.

        So I have a bugout buggy which will haul 6 people in comfort and holding about 1300 miles worth of fuel. Got it from a loser looking to sell everything and go to a Filipino girlfriend… for 5 grand cash. Or maybe 2 grand when I have to pay the license tax, my memory is fading these days…

        There are deals out there if you’re patient. Good luck with your search!

        • Oh! OH! OOOohhhHHH! Good score, Ernie!!!!! Is it a Euro{something)? I sold one of those for a client a while back…and it was SWEET! Guy bought it sight-unseen and drove it home c. 3500 miles. Only he paid double what you did for it!

          Score one for the good guys!


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