What is the Nissan Frontier Desert Runner?
The annual Specialty Equipment Market Association show is just about ready to wrap up its 2019 edition. SEMA is one of those events that automotive insiders get pretty excited for because automakers like Nissan show customers some really imaginative concept vehicles. This leads us to one of the more intriguing questions that have popped up in the showroom this week, ‘What is the Nissan Frontier Desert Runner?’ The Frontier platform has been a favorite choice for off-road driving enthusiasts for a long time. The Desert Runner concept vehicle really dials that up to 11. Let’s take a look at this special vehicle.
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Nissan outsourced the development of the Frontier Desert Runner concept to the professionals at MA Motorsports, based in Glen Arm, Maryland, who in turn worked with a team from Nissan Motorsports. From the outside, the most telling difference between the Desert Runner and the standard version of the Frontier is the exaggerated fender panels. The high arches are needed to be able to accommodate the larger wheels which are wrapped with 37-inch BFGoodrich Baja T/A tires. MA Motorsports custom fabricated the shock hoops and engine cage, but much of the shock absorber components came from King Racing.
Normally, the consumer version of the Nissan Titan that is available at Billion Auto Group has a 4.0-liter, V-6 engine under the hood. The MA Motorsports and Nissan team found this insufficient for the Frontier Desert Runner. Instead, the same 5.6-liter Endurance® V-8 engine that is used by the Nissan Titan was placed under the hood. This seems like the probable reason a custom engine cage had to be built.
While the engine was borrowed from the Titan line, it is certainly not a stock engine by any stretch of the imagination. The team rebuilt the engine to meet the needs of a race team that includes a turbocharger, custom intercooler as well as aftermarket camshafts, pistons and valves. When all is said and done, the up-fitted V-8 engine used by the Nissan Frontier Desert Runner will make more than 600 horsepower and around 700 pound-feet of torque.
Finally, the interior of the Desert Runner was stripped of anything that wasn’t absolutely necessary. Specialty bucket seats, safety harnesses and a quick-release steering wheel were added by MA Motorsports.
We don’t know how likely it is for the Nissan Frontier Desert Runner to be turned into a mass production model. However, taking a look at these SEMA concept builds is something that always makes for useful wish list when we imagine our dream truck build.