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Old 02-15-2021, 02:11 PM   #1
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Default Body swap from 90' to 97'

Picked up a 1990 D21 4wd 5spd as my first truck. Engine, trans, and frame are perfectly fine but the body is terrible. Found a 97' with a blown engine on marketplace and the body is immaculate. Was just wondering what kind of issues or quirks I'd run into when swapping the 97' body onto my 90'.
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Old 02-15-2021, 03:53 PM   #2
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Assuming the only issue with the 97 is the motor I’d just swap the motor from the 90 into the 97. Retain the timing cover, distributor, and intake manifold from the 97 to install on the the 90 engine.
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Old 02-15-2021, 04:01 PM   #3
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If you go from 97 to 90 you have some wiring to change. If you swap motors see Bamas comment. If you like projects then body swap, I've done it...lots of work but rewarding.
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Old 02-15-2021, 05:22 PM   #4
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I forgot to mention that the body of the 97' is a 2wd and my 90' is a 4wd. Same engine and both are manual. Need the 4wd where I live. Just want the body from the 97' so my truck looks half way decent.
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Old 02-15-2021, 05:32 PM   #5
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The cabs are the same so that should not be a problem. Wiring is the big difference between the two. My truck is a 4 door 92 pathfinder with a 2wd 1986.5 cab swapped on to it.
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Old 02-16-2021, 03:26 AM   #6
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couldn’t you just swap everything from the 90 to the 97 cab?
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Old 02-16-2021, 03:36 AM   #7
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I'd rather have the updated interior if I'm being honest.
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Old 02-18-2021, 03:44 AM   #8
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When you say the 97 has a blown engine, what exactly is blown on it. If the bottom end is good, maybe it just needs a new head and a chain job.

Another consideration is the mileage on either of these trucks. If the 97 has much lower miles, you might want to consider just swapping the good engine into the 97.

Four wheel drive is overrated in these trucks, and they are harder to fix when something goes wrong. Just get yourself some decent tires and switch to 15 inch rims from the stock 14's. Best size for traction in 15's might be P-215/70/15. Throw some sandbags in back for weight, maybe add a canopy. I've taken my TWO wheel drive truck to places you wouldn't believe.

The old saying: More stuff, more to fix.

The 97 also has a plug-in for a code reader, near the fuse box. Only the 96-97 models had that. A big bonus. Probably worth more than a 90 if you get the 97 running. If you absolutely need 4WD, go the easy route on these trucks and just pick yourself up a used Pathy later. They will do much better in 4WD than a light truck with 4WD anyway. I know...I've driven my wife's 98 Pathy a bunch of times. That tank will go anywhere in almost any weather. Sell the 90 later for parts to help finance the Pathy. Or keep it for parts. Most of them will work on the 97.

EDIT: I would like to know the mileage on both these trucks, and see pictures of both of them, exterior and interior all around.
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Old 02-18-2021, 09:08 AM   #9
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The 97' has low compression, don't know the numbers or which cylinders are affected, since I was only buying it for the body. I believe the 97' has 189,000 miles or so and my 90' has 138,000 miles. I would love to buy another running vehicle like a pathfinder but I only have enough left in the bank to fix up my current truck. Only having my permit, I can't get a job yet because of the whole legal transportation issue, and that hinders my ability to earn more money. The money that I have put in my 90' (mechanical fixes; clutch, flywheel, valve cover gasket, etc.), I could never get back out of it if I sold it. Most people care more about how something looks when it comes to a vehicle so I'd be screwed in that department. For reference, I bought the 90' for $1,700 and have spent about $600 on it already, it still needs a transmission too.

The pictures attached show both trucks, blue is 97', red is 90' (my shitbox lol)
Attached Images
File Type: jpeg received_348228156228928.jpeg (166.8 KB, 4 views)
File Type: jpeg received_186465949904047.jpeg (227.6 KB, 4 views)
File Type: jpeg 20201207_100555.jpeg (3.73 MB, 4 views)
File Type: jpeg 20201206_202946.jpeg (3.99 MB, 4 views)
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