Off-roading with the Nissan Cargo X Project Van

Nissan, in conjunction with Ian Johnson, who is the host of the American television show Xtreme Off-Road, have taken their standard Nissan Cargo van (the South African equivalent of which is the Nissan NV200) and supersized it. They have created a once off project van that puts the X in xtreme. While the Nissan Cargo X is not set to be put into mass production, it does show the huge potential of the Nissan Cargo as the ultimate commercial vehicle.

When asked about the project, Fred Diaz said “The Nissan NV Cargo has the durability, quality and reliability that works hard for business applications. We thought it would be interesting to take an NV Cargo to the extreme – pushing it to where no cargo van has ever gone before. We weren’t disappointed.” Diaz is the division vice president and general manager of the North America Trucks and Light Commercial Vehicles division of Nissan North America, Inc.

And to the extreme they went. Johnson explained why the NV Cargo was ideal for the project: “When I looked at the NV Cargo, I saw a hard-working van with a heavy-duty foundation. And I also saw possibilities for a rock crawler that could serve as its own support vehicle. A strong foundation is what makes the NV Cargo X build possible. Most work vans come with a C-channel frame that would flex and squeak under the stress of Pyeatt Draw. But every NV Cargo is built on a rigid, fully boxed ladder frame.”

Johnson and his team set to work to transform the humble NV Cargo into an off-roading monster. The engine was replaced with a Cummins® 5.0L V8 Turbo Diesel providing 310 kW of power and 555 Nm of torque. This beast of a vehicle was then fitted with 37” tyres, giving it an overall height of over 2.3 metres. The front suspension was fully customised, while the back suspension remained as it was.

The exterior was fitted with special LED off road lights, a front mounted winch, tube bumper and customised skid plate. The van was then specially wrapped in a black and white design that added to the overall rough and rugged exterior.

With the end goal in sight, Ian Johnson and his team have worked tirelessly to get the Cargo X ready for battle – to tackle the Pyeatt Draw trail in Arizona. The trail runs along a rocky ravine that is made up of steep ledges, huge boulders, logs and fallen rock in the Tonto National Forest. This is about as rugged as it gets when it comes to off-roading. But the kitted out Cargo X took the test in its stride.

The Nissan Cargo X will make its appearance at the Chicago Autoshow next week, following its big adventure.


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