Builds: Rb25det-powered Gmc Sonoma

As Speedhunters, we always try to stay tuned into what’s happening in the automotive world. Whether its getting tips from readers or hunting around our favorite forums for cool builds, there’s always something interesting to be found out there.

Sometimes though, we come across cool stuff in the most unusual ways. Take this little pickup truck for example.

I was recently doing a Google search for some general information on Nissan’s RB engines when I came across a link to a thread on Yes, that’s S-10 as in GM’s popular mini-truck built from the early ’80s through the mid ’00s. Why was this popping up in a search on Nissan engines? I was so intrigued that I immediately read the thread from start to finish.

The S-10 and it’s GMC cousin the Sonoma have long been popular engine swap candidates due to their light weight and accommodating engine bays. 99% of the time it’s the venerable small block Chevy V8 that’s used for these swaps, but here I was looking at something much different.

This particular GMC Sonoma out of Michigan was indeed powered by a Nissan RB motor – originally an RB20DET and now an RB25DET. As I read through the build log though, it was clear that the swap was just one part of this project.

What’s was even more impressive is the fact that the owner did everything himself in his own workshop. That includes the engine swap, body work, chassis fabrication, and more.

Speaking of the chassis, the use of Nissan components spreads far beyond just what’s in the engine bay. In fact, the entire rear suspension assembly from a 300ZX was outfitted to the rear of the truck.

That means that not only was the Sonoma’s factory live axle replaced by the Z’s independent rear suspension, but it also got the Z’s rear disc brakes as well. There also plans to fit Z suspension and brakes up front.

Another view showing the rear suspension with airbags installed.

When the truck is “laid out” as mini-truckers like to call it, the rear wheels camber in quite aggressively. This is of course something you won’t see on one of these trucks with the factory rear suspension.

A set of vents were molded into the hood to bring more air through, as well as to give the truck a slightly more tuner car-inspired look.

A new set of wheels was also thrown on, replacing the stock R32 wheels that were on the truck prior to this.

The Sonoma is anything but a trailer queen. In fact it actually gets used for towing regularly…

…just as a pickup truck should.

With the extra power from the RB, a wider wheel and tire setup was necessary in the rear.

In order to properly fit wit the wider wheels and tires in the rear, the stock bed was swapped out for one from a stepside truck.

Before it was completed though, the new bed went under the knife to be widened even more.

Looks pretty aggressive, no?

A set of taillights from an R33 Skyline were installed as well. Personally I think I prefer the look of the stock tails, but these do go along with the Skyline theme.

One more engine view. With this setup the truck ran 13.8 ET in the quarter mile on street tires. Not bad for an airbagged mini-truck, but there are bigger plans in the works. More specifically, an Rb30 with a T88 turbine…

If you’d like to follow along or see more photos from the project, head over to the build thread on the S10Forum .

-Mike Garrett

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those tails ruin it.


Why the rim change? R32s were much nicer.


Mini Truck body stuff is always where they fall short.  This thing could have been so cool, less the wheels and lights.


i'm a GM guy, but this is cool none the less. I'd prefer a LC2 


lol everyones hatin. this thing is bad as fuck!


This is a cool build. I haven't seen a mini-truck on speedhunters before (not counting the drift tacoma/hilux) and while that engine/suspension swap is sacrilege its still pretty cool, and at least it has a theme. that being said, those tail lights ruin it for me, to each his own i guess


Damn! Never thought I'd see something like this, A RB engine inside of a GMC/Chevy truck.


Another clever use for the RB motor... that would be my idea of the perfect sport truck/toy hauler.  Will look forward to a follow up on the RB30 set up!!!  


the tails would have looked way better, maybe even good if they were horizontal in the roll pan


 @BigDoug Indeed, should be interesting.


Now THIS is speedhunters material. Thanks for a cool post.


Insane, dig it






Glad to see my comment the other day ..."TRUCKS THAT GO SIDEWAYS" didnt go unnoticed.


Glad to see my comment the other day ..."TRUCKS THAT GO SIDEWAYS" didnt go unnoticed.


Nice work, but this doesn't belong on speed hunters, lowrider magazine material JS


@EEEEVAN nice body work on that..


What?  This has nothing to do with "lowriders", maybe a little sport truck influence be not lowriders


That is cool.  I have been a GM car and truck (I have a GMC Syclone, GMC Typhoon, and used to have a Buick Grand National) guy for a long time.  Also spent a year or two messing around with Nissan Skyline GT-R's.    At home I have an RB25DET, Automatic, AWD sitting in the garage on a stand.   I always thought that a old Nissan pickup would be a better swap for it.


Very different - I like it! Only one gripe: put the stock taillights back in!


Rear negative camber on a Sonoma blows my friggin mind.  Awesome!

Stephen Elias

I agree, the stock tails looked better in my humble opinion. Still a super sick truck though! Definitely one-of-a-kind!


Mirin google speedhunting bro.


Truck is sick,  even better looking using the stepside bed in my opinion.  Not to sure about the tail lights though.  Lol.  But this really inspires me to finish my Nissan Hardbody,  just wish my Nissan wasn't my daily at the moment


This is my boys truck and it is insane the speed it achieves even when we tow a trailer :)


very cool to see my truck on here, im thinking i might move the tail lights or use different ones all together. As for keeping the r32 wheel i probably would have but they were too skinny and it was next to impossible to keep them from spinning. My 13.8 et at the track was at 11-12psi and on those r32 wheels and the old smaller turbo, i am now up to 18psi, on a bigger t3/t4e garrett with the exhaust housing machined out to handle the full t4 turbine,and am doing more tuning to it(stand alone ecu) . If you didnt read through the build thread on the s10 forum the reason for the primer on the truck is because a tree fell on it in front of my house so i fixed all the damage myself. 


 I was almost going to pass on this story as another boring motor swap--until I noticed the camberred rear tires.  From another guy who has built his own car I want to say that you have an awesome truck. Very few people really know how difficult that kind of build is.  Excellent job!!!  Check out mine, I hope for a result as nice as yours.


agreed it's an s10. period. tools are gettin cheaper you can put any motor in any car. Good job on the fab but definitly should be on lowrider not here.


 @markstoys very cool car man, you got just about as much if not more work into it than i do into my truck. Keep up the excellent work :)


 @markstoys very cool car man, you got just about as much if not more work into it than i do into my truck. Keep up the excellent work :)


Wow tough ute man!
 i like it when people get creative like this 




'The Sonoma is anything but a trailer queen. In fact it actually gets used for towing regularly…'
i agree, My neighbor has one that uses Trailer Hitches and it does a good job. Its truly amazing!