Dai Yoshihara’s Endeavor Into Off-Road With His 600hp VR30-Swapped Frontier

Photography: Sam Du

  • R/T Tuning of Pennsylvania collaborates with Turn 14 Distribution, MBRP, and ENEOS to build a one-off pre-runner-style Nissan Frontier, which debuted at the 2022 SEMA Show.
  • As a familiar tuner for VR30DDTT engines found in the Infiniti Q50/Q60 and latest Nissan Z, R/T Tuning swaps the 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 into the Frontier and boosts power to 600hp and 650 lb-ft of torque.
  • The Baja-ready chassis was dialed in by Eimer Engineering using a combination of a CJD Racing long travel kit, Bilstein coilovers, Eibach springs, Weld beadlock wheels, and Yokohama Geolander M/T tires.
  • As a surprise to his fan base, the driver of this Frontier will be Formula DRIFT champion Dai Yoshihara as he endeavors into off-road racing for the first time in his career.


R/T Tuning has built the ultimate off-road Nissan Frontier, and its official driver will be Formula DRIFT and Pikes Peak champion, Dai Yoshihara. Debuted at the 2022 SEMA Show in the ENEOS booth, the Turn 14 Distribution x ENEOS x MBRP Frontier is Dai’s first off-road race build, and you can expect to see this rig undergo its first testing/demo days at King of the Hammers.


Vince Hafner, owner of R/T Tuning in Montgomery County, PA, has been building high-powered street and competition cars for several motorsports series. Turn 14 Distribution approached Vince after discovering he was building his own version of a “NISMO-spec” Frontier out of a 2006 2nd-gen extended cab model, swapped with the VR30DDTT motor from the newest generation Nissan Z (RZ34). His goal was to make it appear as if it left the assembly line that way.


Originally 400hp, the Z’s 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 engine now generates 600hp and 650 lb-ft after being rebuilt with JE pistons, Manley Turbo Tuff rods, an R/T Tuning V2 turbo kit, MBRP Armor Pro exhaust, and AMS Performance downpipes. It also has custom ECUTEK RaceRom ECU calibration to ensure proper fueling.


Once the motor was dialed-in, the Frontier was sent to Eimer Engineering in Southern California. Chris Eimer worked with Dai as his Formula DRIFT crew chief, and his expertise in creating race-winning suspension played an important role in ensuring this rig can handle Dai’s off-road activities. Designed by CJD Racing, the pre-runner uses Bilstein M 9200 coilovers, Eibach springs, a CJD long-travel kit, and a custom 9-inch locker axle assembly.

Yokohama Geolander M/T tires are mounted to Weld Racing Cinch beadlock wheels. Braking has been upgraded with Nissan Titan front calipers, DBA rotors, and Power Stop pads.


Renowned illustrator Jon Sibal designed the distinctive livery to incorporate the FiberWerx Nissan Titan carbon fiber front end conversion, upgraded with AnzoUSA lights and KC HiLites accessory lighting.

Inside, Dai has Sparco racing seats and harnesses for safety and weight reduction, plus a Sparco steering wheel with a quick-release for motorsport functionality. There’s also a legit communication setup so Dai, his passenger, and the race team back in the pits, can talk while flying through the desert.


“Dai’s going to have a lot of fun in the Frontier,” Hafner told us. “It’s designed to let him do what he does best; go sideways in the dirt or on asphalt! The Frontier evolved much further than the “NISMO” version I envisioned. You can’t tell by looking at it, but it’s hardcore. And knowing Dai was going to be involved, I had to step it up.”

“I’ve been trying to get behind the wheel of a capable off-roader since attending my first King of the Hammers,” Yoshihara said. “When I heard about this Z-swapped Frontier, I couldn’t resist. With Eimer’s suspension expertise and assistance from Turn 14 Distribution, I had the perfect team to bring this vehicle to life for the 2022 SEMA Show. Nobody expected this from me, and displaying it at the SEMA Show wasn’t our final goal; this is only the beginning. I’m excited to see where I can go in off-road racing, and hopefully, my fans will be too!”

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