Nissan Pathmaker OneTon SAS Build – Part 1

The Nissan Pathmaker OneTon SAS Build – Part 1 – Origins

After 17 years of owning my truck as of this writing I figure it was time to go back and post up some of my Nissan knowledge for those that are just getting into the small world of heavily modified Nissans. Lets start with a little back story I bought my 1987 Nissan Pathfinder back in 2001 when I was just about to graduate highschool at the age of 17. The Pathfinder was a 234,000km fully loaded 4×4 SE Model with the VG30e and 5spd transmission, as well as the sweet Lego wheels and stock 31″x10.5 tires. It slowly morphed into what it is today. The Pathmaker, one of the first One-Ton SAS WD21 Nissan Pathfinders, rolling on 42″ Tires and a ton of mods…follow along and I’ll show you how I did it all.

First off lets have a little before/after

Here’s one of the first shots I have of it.

  Nissan Pathmaker Rig in stock form

And here’s a pic of it a few weeks ago during a wheeling trip.

Nissan Pathmaker One Ton Rig

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“Final” parts list as it sits in July 2022

Rebuilt 3.0L with 300zx racing cams, bored .50 over with Thorley Headers and custom exhaust

1991 Ford HP D-60 front axle with Yukon 35spline Chromos and Superjoints, Yukon Lockouts, 5.38 gears, welded with Full PSC Hydro Steering

1978 Chev 14bolt rear axle converted to disc brakes and 5.38 gears welded. 

42″ x 14″ – 17 Interco Iroks with American Racing 767 rims and some custom designed weld on beadlocks.

Leaf Sprung front and rear (Ford F-150 3″ wide rear and 53″ long Chevy front)

NorthWest Fab TX-10 to Dana300 doubler with upgraded 32 spline front and rear outputs

Full belly armor and new plastic fuel cell

Warn 8274 Winch

Full Exo-Cage and a bunch of custom interior upgrades

It was a long process with lots of pictures so its time to start way back in 2001………

Nissan Pathmaker One Ton SAS Build

When I bought the Pathmaker was in cherry shape, literally one owner driven. A local woman that had it serviced at the dealer from new and had a folder of receipts to go with the rig. (that I still have and have added to in the following 16 years). I bought it right before I graduated and drove it every day for years. Beating on it like only a teenager can and I cringe to think of all the salty sand I used to get all over it……..spent a lot of time at the spray and wash!

First thing up on the list for a 17yr old……..custom bumper modeled after an ARB. Got it built from a local shop for $400, not too shabby and its still on there 16 years later! 


It was clean, I was young and it didn’t stay stock for long. I quickly got a Performance Accessories 3″ bodylift, followed by a 3″ AC Customizers Suspension lift, as well as some 35″ BFGs (plus a ton of fender trimming to get them to fit!) I daily drove it that way for almost 30,000km. They no longer make the original KM tire but they were a fantastic tire and never let me down for the moderate wheeling we were doing back then.

I wrapped the tires around a set of American Racing 767 Rims and added some Warn Manual Locking Hubs.

Cut the fender all the way back to the door and then capped it in because I had cut into the footwell. It was a lot of cutting and a ton of help from my buddy Todd but we got the fenders cut and the edge rolled back. Zero rubbing issues, even at full stuff with the 35″ tires.

Unfortunately as anyone thats ever lifted a Nissan Torsion Bar IFS front end before you know that the steering suffers quickly. So I had to upgrade to the Calmini HD steering system, which was ok for a while but I was limited with the IFS and dreamed of more!

Still took it out wheeling whenever I could, playing in the sand and the mud, wanting to go into the rocks but knowing the broken parts list would add up quickly!


Started to get a few rust bubbles showing and wanted to take off the “Trail Boss” decal.  I ended up painting the lower portion of the body with gravel guard to protect it.It;s also a lot more forgiving than paint on the final finish. Here you can also see the final trimming needed on the front and rear fenders to fit the 35″ tires.

Along the way I had a stuck valve in the motor at about 265km so it was time to pull the motor out and get it rebuilt. I added a bunch of goodies including 300zx racing cams from Automotive Customizers and Thorley Headers. With a local shop rebuilding the motor it was the easiest way of getting back on the road but it didn’t end up cheap.

Heres a photos of it sitting beside my old roommate Travis’s stock ’91 Pathfinder XE, it was a bit bigger!

Stock vs Not

In 2008 anyone that was doing a Solid Axle Swap on a Nissan Pathfinder was pretty much putting in a Jeep Waggoneer D44 and running 37″ tires at max and doing pretty damn good. I knew it was just a matter of time before I’d start breaking stuff with the way I drive, and I also had my heart set on 40’s………so One-Ton axles it was! 

With pretty much no real guidance from the internet the fun part of writing this now after having the rig together for years is I can comment on the photos and explain why I did what I did. I can also say if it turned out to be a good idea or not. There’s definitely some regrets along the way but it’ll be fun going over it all again and explaining it as I go.

Please keep in mind the majority of these photos were taken in 2008. My fab skills were still a work in progress. Having to do a lot of figuring on the fly and work on a small budget and with some basic tools. I know its not perfect, I know my welds could use some work. I know there’s some things that are downright dumb. BUT I stand by everything I’ve done and I’d like others to learn from my knowledge so I’m happy to pass it on. Feel free to leave comments as we go.

On that note, join in as I hack the font end of my rig apart and make room for an ever evolving project!

Next Up

Check out Part 2 in the next blog post here: The Nissan Pathmaker OneTon SAS Build – Part 2 – De-Bracketry

Here’s a few vids of the Pathmaker doing it thing in the wild


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1 comment

Jonathan Terrace

I’ve been following along with this rig for years!

Love it so much

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