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Dualin' Dune Runners

Posted in Features on June 24, 2005 Comment (0)
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Photographers: Phil Howell
Click here to read about the Sandrail!

The phrase "actions, not words" is often spoken about, but rarely ever comes to fruition. In a world where ideas and concepts are usually sold more than the products themselves, it's good to know that there are still some people and companies that live up to the adage and just sit back and let their products speak for themselves.

Click here to read about the Titan!

Loren Snyder and his crew at Explorer Pro Comp Products are just a few of the people who choose to live this phrase out by building some of the best aftermarket suspensions for some of today's hottest trucks. To exemplify this concept, they've literally produced two rolling showrooms that had everyone around our photo shoot doing double-takes. Following the typical philosophy of "if one is good, then two is even better," our dynamic desert duo was born. The first half of the pair is a wickedly fast and stylish '04 Nissan 4x4 V-8 Titan crew cab, the other half is a custom-fabricated '05 AG Sand Cars sandrail owned by Loren Snyder of Pro Comp.


Clash of the Titan
With the main goals of building the Titan being to showcase the off-roadability of the vehicle and the newly designed and award-winning 6-inch suspension system, the team definitely hit its mark. From the beginning of the project, everyone involved knew that if the SEMA Best Engineered New Product for 2005 suspension system was going to be placed on the vehicle, the bar would be set high for all the other components, which meant that only the best could be used. The powerful V-8 powerplant, which produces an excess of 300 hp, was kept virtually stock, as was the majority of the drivetrain, with the exception of a few minor details that remain as top secret as the combinations to the access gates around Area 51.

Integrated into Pro Comp's Stage 2 suspension system are PC's Pro Runner coilover 2 3/4-inch monotube reservoir billet shocks in the front and adjustable MX6 monotube reservoir shocks in the rear. Filling the large voids that are the wheelwells are trick 17x9-inch Robby Gordon bead-locking wheels wrapped with 35x12.50x17 Pro Comp Mud-Terrain tires.

Knowing that the rig would actually be used in the wide-open spaces of some of the country's best-known sand dunes, as well as in conjunction with the other half of the team, a custom bed-mounted rack was fabricated to hold all the essentials needed for traversing the dunes. Taking refuge within the rack are a set of 33-inch Pro Comp custom paddle tires, a toolkit, a Powertank air system, and a custom jack. Illuminating the dunes on those midnight runs up Competition Hill are no less than eight stainless-steel Pro Comp 130 off-road lights that have been mounted to the color-matched and powdercoated Pro Comp lightbar and roof rack.

The interior of the Titan remains stock, with the exception of the Beard racing seats and Crow restraint system, which was done for obvious reasons. Rounding out the stunning and capable package was the addition of a complete custom exterior vinyl vehicle wrap, which matches the second half of the duo and showcases some of the innovative products and styling in the Pro Comp line.

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Riding the 'Rail
Keeping up with a Titan across the sand is no easy feat, which is the exact reason for Loren's draft of famed sand car-builder AG Sand Cars in El Cajon, California. After a brief description of what he was looking for, AG's Dustin Dumas and his team went to work fabricating the four-seat 4130 chrome-moly frame. Once the skeleton of the beast was completed, the suspension tabs and components were installed. To achieve the 20 inches of front and rear wheel travel, the components had to be rated for heavy-duty usage. Turning to 1 1/2-, 0.095-, and 0.120-inch 4130 tubing meant that the custom A-arms and 4130 boxed spindles would endure whatever was thrown their way. Assisting with damping duties are single 2-1/2-inch Fox Racing coilover shocks at each corner.

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Sand Tires Unlimited's 33x13.00x15 Blaster Paddle rear tires, mounted on 15x12-inch Douglas wheels equipped with 24-bolt OMF bead locks and billet aluminum centers, are responsible for floating the 8.80x5-inch Apex-series tires wrapped around 15x4-inch Douglas wheels of the same configuration as the rear across the hot desert sand.

Producing the required horsepower to turn the massive rear tires is the duty of a custom-built 3.5L EFI V-6 Short Star motor that was built by New School Motorsport's of San Diego, California. The engine produces upward of 275 hp and is mated to a four-speed Mendeola 4E transmission with a Stage 3 Kennedy clutch and Fortin shifter kit. Custom 930 mid-board Gear One CV joints serve as the actual drive units in place of the standard stub axles that have been race-prepped along with the 930 300M axles that were made by Apache Gear.

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To combat the extreme heat generated by the sun beating down on the key engine components, all hoses and connectors are silicone, with the brake lines of the four-piston Gear One rear discs being made of stainless steel. Further engine cooling efforts are delivered via a double-pass aluminum Saldana radiator and a single 16-inch electric Zirgo fan. For extended fun in the dunes, a 12-gallon custom aluminum fuel cell was fabricated.

The steering components of the sandrail allow for extra-tight turning ability while riding along the ridgelines of sand mountains. The Kartek rack-and-pinion setup includes custom engraving that was later chromed by Cal Chrome of Chula Vista, California. All the aluminum bracketry and mounting plates were fabricated by the AG Sand Cars crew.

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Moving to the inside of the sandrail reveals the same spare-no-expense attitude, which instantly passes through your body the moment you sit in the Beard Ultra racing seats and cinch up the Crow restraint system. From there, the feeling continues to move to your feet as you press down on the chromed CNC pedals while glancing at the Auto Meter Pro Comp gauges as you hold onto the 14-inch Momo steering wheel for dear life. A Lowrance Baja GPS system ensures that Loren and his copilots will not get lost in the sea of sand. For added insurance, a Pro Comp off-road battery was installed and assists in powering the 100-watt off-road lights that are installed onto the front of the sandrail.

The finishing touches to the sandrail came after it was tore down and readied for its application of Candy Blue powdercoating by East County Powder Coating of El Cajon, California. The sides of the 'rail and the rear cowling have the same matching vinyl graphics that were applied to the Nissan Titan.

Like we said in the beginning, all it takes is one look across the dunes to know that the Pro Comp crew's actions are speaking much louder than their words. But then again, with as much horsepower as they have and the sand from the 50-foot tall rooster tails hitting the ground, who can hear what they're saying anyway?

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