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Nissan Frontier Desert Runner With Turbo V8 Is the Midsize Truck of Our Dreams

And did we mention it rocks a six-speed manual?

Nissan rolled out a sexy Frontier Desert Runner pickup truck at SEMA this year, packed with a turbocharged V8 heart and lots of trophy truck goodies. After all, the automaker already sells a Desert Runner package in its rear-wheel-drive Frontier, but sadly it’s nothing like this amped-up unit.

The one-off creation had its 4.0-liter V6 replaced with the 5.6-liter Endurance V8 from its bigger sibling, the Titan. Of course, for SEMA, just swapping a motor isn’t enough, so a turbocharger was added to increase the horsepower and torque rating to over 600 ponies and more than 700 pound-feet. Handling all that power is nothing other than a good ol’ six-speed manual transmission. 


MA Motorsports installed Fiberworx Pre Runner fenders and fabricated new front and rear bumpers for the truck. It also created a custom spare tire carrier for the bed, to make changing flats in the desert significantly quicker—or at least make it easier for the racing mechanic you’re paying out of pocket to do so. MA Motorsports also custom fabricated many of the components holding everything in place and created the body pieces that weren’t available off the shelf.

The suspension is most definitely the real deal, with a long-travel upgrade and King Racing Triple Bypass front and rear shocks in addition to Giant Motorsports Link Killer rear leaf springs. It runs on Fifteen52 TurboMac HD wheels and 37-inch BFGoodrich Baja T/A tires.

The interior was gutted for desert race duty, but still has everything the average driver will need. Next to the manual transmission shifter is a massive mechanical handle for the parking brake, to aid with ripping sweet drifts in the sand. Sparco provided the seats and a custom-fabricated roll cage.

While it’s definitely a sick ride, there’s zero indication that a build like this could become a reality outside of SEMA. But even if that’s the case, we hope that Nissan decides to take it out to the desert for some good desert-running fun. If so, call us!