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Old 01-19-2017, 03:16 AM   #1
USC justice
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Default My 1988 Desert Runner Build

1988 Desert Runner build

I have wanted one of these for years. Here in South Carolina I had only seen one, but I saw it pretty regularly. The guy who had it got it for his 16th birthday, and regardless of what I offered, it was never for sale.

Finally in September 2016, a friend of mine ran across another one, and this one was for sale. Not only for sale, but for sale at a reasonable price As I understand it, the only two options available for the Desert Runner were AC and Automatic Transmission. This one had both. I literally found out about it 2 days after my second son was born. Not the best time to think about another car project. After a couple weeks, the wife and I decided I may as well snag it, as the price was good. So she came home to live in my workshop. Now that a couple months have passed, I have worked through figuring out the process and what I want to do with her. She had been backed into things, and front drivers corner not great either, but all for that everything was there.

General Plans:
2 inches up on front suspension for leveling the truck
Rancho suspension all the way around
55W LED lighting for each of the lights in the roll bar (were 35W halogen originally)
80W LED lighting for hi/low beams in headlights
55W LED lighting for rally lights on front brush guard
Whelen Corner strobes for front corners and rear tail lights
Whelen LED pattern flasher (for tie in with light bar)
Replace front bumper brackets (old ones are bent)
Replace missing roll bar support bars
Replace missing bed mounted spare tire rack
Swap out door panels for 94-95 Pathfinder power door panels with subharness and power window motors.
Spray in bed liner for the bed, and most of undercarriage
Swap out for VQ40 and 6MT 4x4 transmission.
Repaint the hood and roof for the moment. Eventually complete respray and replacing all decals (already had a graphics shop measure out, scan, and digitize the Desert Runner graphics.

The good news is that I already have most everything on the list already on hand. The big question is really going to be one of time. I anticipate it taking quite a while to get around to everything.

So far accomplished, a good friend of mine resprayed the hood and roof. He also sanded down and repainted the roll bars and lights up top. I had a local steel shop remake the support bars from the roll back to the back of the bed. I have put in the LED lighting in the roll bar lights.

Hoping this weekend to get the bedliner sprayed in, updated headlight housings, headlights, and grille installed as well as the Rancho shocks. Then baby steps after that. As a dad of two kiddos under 2 and a half, I have my hands full along with keeping the wife happy.  I will try to keep updating as the coming months go by.

Open to thoughts about things I might be missing, or should think about.

Last edited by USC justice; 08-31-2021 at 03:17 AM. Reason: Fix photos
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Old 01-19-2017, 03:46 AM   #2
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Vehicle: 2004 Frontier 2WD (sold), 1993 D21 4x4
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Awesome, I really love that style of roll bar. The way the kickers angle back and go right past the wheel wells.

I personally like that style grille and dash and wouldn't change it out because of the square'd look of the truck, but it's not my truck so you do what makes you happy.

Cool build man keep the pictures coming and keep updating
1993 D21 SE-V6, 4x4, X-cab
syn's 4x4 project build
2004 Frontier 4cyl, 2wd, X-cab (Sold)
2007 Subaru Impreza wagon 2.5i
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Old 01-19-2017, 05:40 AM   #3
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Looks like your missing the spare tire holder, bed supports, & cooler rack.
My stable of Nissan trucks includes:
1987 Nissan King Cab(full frame off Restoration).
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Old 01-19-2017, 06:01 AM   #4
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Very cool truck! Glad to see it getting the love it deserves.
*1992 Supercharged and Body Swapped WD21 Pathfinder
*1995 D21 Regular Cab 2wd
*(2)1991 D21 Regular Cab
*1990 WD21 Pathfinder Frame
*2004 Xterra
*2010 Infiniti G37x

Nissan Truck Videos (Builds-Racing-Shows-Tech)
IG@ rainmaker_d21

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Old 01-19-2017, 09:43 AM   #5
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Welcome to Infamous.

A few years after the Nissan Desert Runner was available, Chevy had the Baja package for their S-10, the parts that make up the Desert Runner package and the Chevy Baja package were both made by House of Steel. I guess the Chevy Baja parts are just as hard to find as the Desert Runner parts though, but if you need anything, you probably can look for Chevy Baja parts as well .

link to Chevy Baja S-10 below:

My name is Tony and I'm a Infamousaholic

Current truck - 2017 Nissan Frontier Desert Runner ,

(formerly owned: 1993 Nissan Hardbody king cab 2wd, 90 Nissan Sentra, 94 Nissan Pathfinder SE 4x4, 05 Nissan Titan, 87 Nissan SE-V6 4x4 king cab, 94 Infiniti Q45t & 80 Datsun 310GX )

Last edited by ahardb0dy; 01-19-2017 at 09:57 AM.
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Old 01-19-2017, 11:06 AM   #6
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Hell yeah! Welcome to infamous
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Old 01-19-2017, 11:34 AM   #7
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Welcome to infamous
Can't wait to see this finished
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Old 01-19-2017, 01:49 PM   #8
USC justice
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You are right, it is missing the bed supports, tire carrier and cooler rack. I'm not interested in trying to replace the cooler rack. I have a new bed mounted tire carrier ready for mounting up. The bed supports I have tried to get good pictures of, and I have a shop that will try to recreate them for me. That has been harder than expected. The first three pictures are what she looked like when I picked her up, then the ones after getting the support bars fabbed up, and then pics as the painting got started.

I have caught some grief from friends down here about changing out the dash more than anything else. Just one of those things, I like the look of the more rounded dash.

I'm most looking forward to the VQ35DE in it. I can't help but think that is going to be a lot of fun.
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Old 01-19-2017, 07:06 PM   #9
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Cool project, love to see this.
The Kids= Down N Out: 91 Nissan Ext Cab, SR20DET, Build Thread: http://www.infamousnissan.com/forum/...ad.php?t=20041
The daily: 90 Nissan Std Cab, KA24, Build thread:http://www.infamousnissan.com/forum/...476#post413476

87 Nissan Pathfinder...on hold... , 93 Nissan Pickup Long Bed.....needs help!!!
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Old 01-19-2017, 07:25 PM   #10
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great piece of nissan history. welcome to IN.
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