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Restoring a Desert Runner

Wednesday, Jan 11, 2012

Over the years we have had a lot of fun project cars to play with here, but last fall we stumbled across a rare gem on Craig's list, an original 1988 Nissan Desert Runner. Though in rough shape, it's rarity, and price, required that we acquire it for our fleet and since then we have slowly been fixing it up, and gathering replacement parts from a variety of far-away sources.

Restoring an older Japanese vehicle isn't like rebuilding a Ford or Chevy, very few original trim parts exist, especially the specialized Desert Runner parts, and there are few suppliers of aftermarket replacements. Luckily the mechanical parts are still readily available, as are replacement body panels for the point when the rust turns terminal.
Something else that is sparse is information on the Desert Runner. A one year only special offering from Nissan, it was marked similar to Nissan's factory supported off-road teams, and many were used as site and crew vehicles for the Mint 400 offroad race in Las Vegas. Not just a special paint and tape package, the Desert Runner package added special bumpers, skid plates, a spare tire carrier in the back, and on some a Jerry can rack in the bed. Opinions vary on the number of Desert Runners built and sold, in fact little information on the program still exists even at Nissan.

We will keep you up to date and outline some of our restoration work on our Desert Runner over the next few weeks and months, and if you see us buzzing around town gathering parts say hello!

If you have information on Nissan's Desert Runner program we'd love to hear from you. Send us an email!.
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