The Best Truck Builds from SEMA 2019

Trucks are always a big deal at SEMA, but it seems this year they were even BIGGER.

Overland went mainstream this year as SEMA dedicated an entire space to showcase overlanding products, accessories, and truck builds. The Overland Experience Expo is a welcome addition to the show, and I predict will continue to grow next year.

The concept off-road trucks are what really caught my eye. Here are some of my favorite truck builds from the show.

Nissan Frontier Desert Runner

Nissan follows up on their budget Frontier overland build, with this flat out off-road racer. 

Frontier Desert Runner

MA Motorsports teamed up with the Nissan Motorsports team to build a full-blown race truck. The “Desert Runner” Frontier model is a very capable 4×2, but Nissan has taken it way beyond with this build.

The conversion started under the hood by replacing the factory 4.0-liter V6 engine with a 5.6-liter Endurance® V8 from a Nissan TITAN full-size pickup. The big V8 underwent a complete race-spec rebuild, including the addition of a Garrett GTX3584RS turbocharger, custom intercooler, Jim Wolf Technology camshafts, pistons and valves, and MA Motorsports custom turbo header and exhaust system.

The engine boasts 600-plus horsepower and 700 lb-ft of torque. The new V8 is matched to a Nissan 6-speed manual transmission with Jim Wolf Technology clutch and lightweight flywheel.

The suspension makeover is equally aggressive and includes a BTF Fabrication long travel front suspension kit, King Racing Triple Bypass front shocks and coil-overs, rear King Racing Triple Bypass shocks and Giant Motorsports Link Killer rear leaf springs.

The Frontier Desert Runner rides on Fifteen52 TurboMac HD wheels and 37-inch BFGoodrich Baja T/A tires. The shock hoops, engine cage and bed cage were fabricated by MA Motorsports.

The exterior is finished off with Fiberworx Pre Runner fenders and fabricated new front and rear bumpers, along with a custom spare tire carrier. A full package of off-road lighting from Rigid Industries and a body wrap by Speed Designs complete the look.

Ram 1500 Rebel OTG (Off The Grid) Concept

Overlanding in a full-size truck is a growing niche with plenty of participants. The truck brands have taken notice by building their own concept vehicles including this Ram 1500 OTG.

Ram partnered with Mopar on this build. 

The OTG concept uses as a canvas the new 2020 Ram 1500 equipped with the new 3.0-liter V-6 EcoDiesel engine, which offers exceptional low-end torque and extended driving range, coupled with a 33-gallon tank that makes it the ideal truck for long-distance travel.

The vehicle draws upon the rugged capabilities of the production Ram 1500 Rebel, improving all-terrain capability via Mopar’s concept two-inch lift kit, beadlock wheels and 35-inch Goodyear tires.

The OTG concept also includes Mopar concept accessories, such as a front bumper with integrated winch, a larger grille with flow-through R-A-M badging and a functional snorkel air intake to improve off-road capability and performance. Front- and rear-wheel flares and step assist rock rails have been installed to protect the vehicle while traversing rough terrain. 

A concept rear bumper, adapted from the Ram 1500 Tradesman, improves the departure angle of the truck by relocating the exhaust.

Helped by Ram’s unique multifunction tailgate with 60/40 split swing-away doors, the bed of the truck has been accessorized to offer versatile utility for extended adventures. 

A bed rack system fits atop the truck bed, carrying a collapsible rooftop tent, which can be accessed via a stowable ladder. Enhancing the overlanding experience, inside the truck bed there is a retractable battery-powered cooler and kitchen unit with a gas-powered stove and sink with an on-board water system.

An added rack structure is mounted above the cab to provide additional storage space for tools and equipment.

A solar panel set, which can be deployed at any moment to generate electricity, and a backup power supply eliminates the need for a gas-powered generator, freeing cargo capacity. 

A concept hide-away bed step in the rear makes loading and unloading easier. The concept truck is also equipped with an on-board air compressor in the bed cargo area.

For vehicle recovery and extraction, the OTG is equipped with an integrated front-bumper winch, traction mats attached to the rack system and a high-lift jack for uneven ground mounted on the top of the cab.

To make the dark campsite brighter while night camping, LED off-road driving lamps are mounted on the front bumper. Also, supplemental LED backup lamps have been incorporated into the rear bumper and task lighting has been attached to the rear rack system for nighttime campsite illumination.

New Ford Bronco

We’ve all been clamoring for a peek at the new Ford Bronco. 

Well Ford gave us what we wanted at this years SEMA. They built a race ready Bronco to run the Baja 1000. They call it the Bronco R prototype. 

It’s a tribute to the Bronco that Rod Hall and Larry Minor famously drove to an overall win 50 years ago at the 1969 Baja 1000.

Will we see any portion of this design trickle down to the production version of the Bronco? I’d say yes, but in a much more muted state. If the new Bronco looks anything like this one, then sign me up!

2021 Silverado HD Carhartt Special Edition

The Silverado HD is an all-time favorite truck of mine and I love Carhartt, so this truck build is right in my wheelhouse.

The truck includes the Z71 Off-Road Package, including tuned twin-tube Rancho shocks, Hill Descent Control and skid plates. This gives it plenty of off-road cred.

The Carhartt details are where it stands apart. It is offered exclusively in the Mosaic Black Metallic exterior color, which is complemented by pinstripe detailing in Carhartt gold, Carhartt badging on the doors and tailgate, 20-inch wheels with All Terrain tires and a soft rollup tonneau cover embossed with the Carhartt logo.

Black vent hood detailing and tow hooks lend more dramatic styling, while a body-color grille surround and inserts, along with body-color front and rear bumpers, further add to the distinctive exterior styling and the truck’s overall presence.

A Carhartt-themed interior includes all-weather floor liners with the Carhartt badge, along with exclusive two-tone Jet Black and Carhartt Brown leather-appointed seats featuring unique stitching and Carhartt embroidered headrests.

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