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  5. What Is a PreRunner?

What Is a PreRunner?

Long Travel? Big Tires? Fiberglass Fenders?

There's a term in the truck space that gets thrown around a lot, but relatively few people actually know what it means. That word is "prerunner." Let's take a few moments to dive into what exactly is, and isn't, a prerunner.

What Does PreRunner Mean?

Technically speaking, the word "prerunner" refers to a vehicle that is used to pre-run an off-road racecourse. Most racers have a separate vehicle, similar in build to their race vehicle, that they use to scout the condition of the course prior to the race. This lets them build familiarity with the varied terrain, take GPS notes, and have the best possible chance at having a safe race.

What Makes A Truck a PreRunner?

Again, by the most technical definition any vehicle can be a prerunner. Race teams have used trucks, buggies, motorcycles, and even rental cars to pre-run racecourses in the past, though we can't really condone that last one. Looking more specifically, to be a decent prerunner that can survive the harsh desert, a truck needs to have good off-road tires, quality shock absorbers, and a stout suspension. Just how advanced any of these parts needs to be depends entirely on how fast you intended to go while traversing the harsh terrain.

What Models Make Good PreRunner Trucks?

Arguably the most popular truck for building into a prerunner is the 1983 to 2011 Ford Ranger. Not only did these trucks make up the bulk of sportsman race trucks, but they were also inexpensive to both buy and modify. The next most popular model of truck is the Toyota Tacoma. Even though the Tacoma was more expensive than a Ranger, they were also very popular to both race and pre-run with. Higher budget race teams would often opt for the Ford F-150, as they have larger cabs and engines than the Ranger; however, the cost to build climbs exponentially.

Didn't Toyota Offer A Factory PreRunner?

Toyota offered a model of Tacoma which they dubbed the "PreRunner" from 1998 until 2015. The Tacoma PreRunner was a two-wheel drive truck that sported a slightly taller suspension and wider track width (thanks to wheel offset). The truck also came with a locking rear differential. Early years sported a "PreRunner" badge, while later models did not.

Is the Ford Raptor a PreRunner?

The Ford F-150 Raptor has wider suspension with more wheel travel than the normal F-150, larger and more robust tires, big shock absorbers, bulgy fenders, and lots of skid plates. So, is it a great off-road truck built to tackle the wilds of the desert? Yes. Is it a prerunner though? Technically only if it's used to pre-run a racecourse. Making sense yet?

So, What Truck Isn't a PreRunner?

The wider stance and leveled or even slightly nose-high attitude that race trucks and true prerunners sport quickly became popular among the SoCal high school and college scene in the late '90s and early 2000s. Soon, stock trucks with a lifted front end started popping up all over, and the style quickly spread across the country. People were cranking up torsion bars on Chevys, pulling rear factory lift blocks of anything that had them, and tossing wide fiberglass fenders on otherwise stock trucks.

Why Does Any of This Matter?

Honestly, it doesn't. Go out and have fun with your truck. Lift the front, lower the back, install $20,000 worth of big shocks, cruise the streets, crush the desert, do what you enjoy most. As long as we're all happily enjoying our trucks, that's all that really matters.

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