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2002 Nissan Frontier King Cab Desert Runner - Frantic Frontier

Airborne
Carl Calvert | Writer
Posted August 1, 2002
Photographers: Chip Starr

Purpose-Built Nissan On A Mission

Nissan is definitely not new to the truck market, building quality pickups for more than 40 years. The company has been successful in the compact truck market with such innovations as the King Cab, a prelude to the popular extended cab. Presently, Nissan is actively pursuing the off-road prerunner truck market by offering the Desert Runner 2wd truck. To help popularize this truck for the aftermarket segment, Nissan has enlisted the help of James Chen, president of Axis Sport Tuning. Axis is well known for its aluminum wheels for cars and SUVs, and James was eager to take the Frontier to the next step in looks and performance.

James selected the '02 Frontier Desert Runner version with the King Cab because it is the two-wheel-drive version with the four-wheel-drive suspension for a higher ground clearance. Next, Body Pros of Garden Grove, California, expertly sprayed the Frontier with PPG Tangerine Dream paint to match James' KTM SX380 motocross bike. Finally, James enlisted the help of Fabtech Motorsports to lift the truck for a more aggressive stance. Fabtech responded by installing its lift kit using special torsion bars, high-performance shocks, and augmented A-arms in the front, while adding rear leaves and shocks to complete the rear. This setup increased the Frontier's height by 3 inches.

To give the Nissan more of a prerunner look, James called upon the master fabricators at Twisted Tin in Westminster, California, to fabricate the front and the rear bumpers. The bumpers were made of 1-inch chrome-moly steel tubing and powdercoated by Specialized Powdering in Huntington Beach, California, using a new powdercoating process that resembles an anodized-blue color.To carry the dirt bike with ease, a custom ramp and rail were fabricated and installed in the bed, enabling quick loading and unloading of the KTM Motorcycle. The ramp is attached to the inside of the bed to hold it in place. Both the rail and the ramp are also powdercoated blue to match the rest of the truck.

In order to minimize wear and tear in the back of the bed, Diamond Bedliner sprayed a custom-blended blue bedliner to match the blue on the rest of the truck. To increase visibility in the dark, the headlamps have been upgraded to PIAA Super-White bulbs, and the addition of PIAA Super 80 driving lights throw extra lighting power into the darkness. Finishing the front of the vehicle, James chose Street Scene grille material and made a custom front grille insert for the front grille and the front bumper opening.

The Nissan Frontier is equipped with a supercharger from the factory displacing 5 pounds of boost. The team at Axis increased the boost by using a smaller upper pulley to drive the blower. This caused the supercharger to turn at a faster rate and increased the boost by 1 pound, resulting in a net gain of 25 hp. To help the respiratory side of the engine, a K&N air filter was installed, and on the other end, a one-off HKS muffler was matched to the HKS tip, resulting in a custom-made HKS exhaust system. To put the extra power to the ground, James chose BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain tires in size P265/75R16 mounted on 16x9-inch Axis Regulators with matching anodized blue simulated bead-lock rings. The Axis Regulators give the appearance of the bead-lock look and really complement the look of the Nissan.

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