The name “Desert Runner” is familiar to fans of Nissan’s popular mid-size pickup, the Frontier. As one of five available Frontier models, Desert Runner offers a special package of off-road style features in an affordable 4×2 configuration. But there has never been a Frontier Desert Runner like the one that made its debut at the 2019 SEMA Show.
Under the hands of the experienced extreme performance specialists at MA Motorsports in Glen Arm, Md., working in tandem with the Nissan Motorsports team, this Desert Runner resembles the factory version in name only – going from weekend adventurer to near full-blown race truck.
The conversion started under the hood by replacing the factory 4.0-liter V6 engine with a 5.6-liter Endurance® V8 from a Nissan TITAN full-size pickup. The big V8 underwent a complete race-spec rebuild, including the addition of a Garrett GTX3584RS turbocharger, custom intercooler, Jim Wolf Technology camshafts, pistons and valves, and MA Motorsports custom turbo header and exhaust system. The engine boasts 600-plus horsepower and 700 lb-ft of torque. The new V8 is matched to a Nissan 6-speed manual transmission with Jim Wolf Technology clutch and lightweight flywheel.
The suspension makeover is equally aggressive and includes a BTF Fabrication long travel front suspension kit, King Racing Triple Bypass front shocks and coil-overs, rear King Racing Triple Bypass shocks and Giant Motorsports Link Killer rear leaf springs. The Nissan Frontier Desert Runner rides on Fifteen52 TurboMac HD wheels and 37-inch BFGoodrich Baja T/A tires. The shock hoops, engine cage and bed cage were fabricated by MA Motorsports.
Turning attention to the body, MA Motorsports installed Fiberworx Pre Runner fenders and fabricated new front and rear bumpers, along with a custom spare tire carrier. A full package of off-road lighting from Rigid Industries and a body wrap by Speed Designs complete the bold exterior.
Inside, the factory interior was replaced by a no-frills cockpit – including coated floor, MA Motorsports custom harness bar and Sparco harnesses. Sparco also supplied the racing seats and steering wheel with quick release steering wheel adapter.