Nissan Frontier Turbo V8 Desert Runner! Is This the Last Hurrah for the Frontier?

A 600 horsepower V8 animal isn't a bad send-off

Nissan Frontier Desert Runner
[Photos: Nissan]

A V8 Frontier with over 600 horsepower? Yes, please.

The Nissan Frontier still holds its own as a popular midsize truck, despite its age. That has meant carrying on with the same four-cylinder and V6 engines all this time, and while 261 is adequate to get the job done on a day-to-day basis, the base Frontier is just a basic and honest pickup, even as its competition gets more advanced. So what can you do to spice up your Frontier, particularly if it’s two-wheel drive? Nissan just debuted a special version of its Frontier Desert Runner package, but not as you’d know it.

This one has a big V8 under the hood, and a six-speed manual transmission.

You can thank MA Motorsports of Glen Arm, Maryland for this special Frontier Desert Runner build. Not only does it pack a 5.6-liter Endurance V8 from the larger Titan in place of its standard 4.0-liter V6, but it’s turbocharged to boot. This truck has a fully race-spec built engine, with a Garrett GTX3584RS turbo and custom intercooler.

Nissan Frontier Desert Runner

Add to that Jim Wolf camshafts, pistons and valves along with MA Motorsports’ own custom turbo header and exhaust, and you have a powerful beast. In fact, this turbocharged Frontier Desert Runner packs “600-plus” horsepower and 700 lb-ft of torque. The six-speed manual comes mated to a Jim Wolf clutch and flywheel.

Nissan Frontier Desert Runner

Suspension, tire upgrades

It’s not just sheer grunt where this truck performs, either. This beefed up Nissan Frontier Desert Runner has an aggressive suspension setup with 37-inch BFGoodrich Baja T/A tires. MA Motorsports fitted a BTF Fabrication long-travel front suspension kit with King Racing Triple Bypass shocks, as well as coilovers in the front and Giant Motorsports Link Killer leaf springs in the rear.

Nissan Frontier Desert Runner

Body, interior fabrications

From the Fifteen52 TurboMac HD wheels on up, the Frontier Desert Runner has shock hoops, an engine cage and bed cage fabricated by MA Motorsports. Finishing off the exterior are fabricated front and rear bumpers, Fiberworx Pre Runner fenders, a custom spare tire carrier and Rigid Industries off-road lighting. The gray color scheme comes courtesy of a Speed Designs body wrap.

Nissan Frontier Desert Runner

Inside, this Nissan Frontier Desert Runner has a no-frills layout, but isn’t too dissimilar from the standard truck. MA Motorsports fitted a coated floor and a custom harness bar with Sparco harnesses and racing seats.

You know, we’re sorely missing a serious competition for desert-bashing midsize trucks. The closest we currently get is the Chevy Colorado ZR2 Bison. As unlikely as the situation stands for Nissan to build something on this end of the crazy spectrum, it would be fun to have some choices like this. We need a Ford Ranger Raptor and we need an aggressive, insane off-roading Frontier. Nissan is set to replace the Frontier very soon, so it’s a perfect opportunity. No? Well, fortunately we have tuning companies out there, making the world a better place one bonkers truck at a time.

Stay tuned to for more form the 2019 SEMA Show, including several videos coming soon!