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Nissan Shows Off Customized Trucks and a Ariya Woody Surf Wagon for SEMA 2022

Apr 22, 2023Apr 22, 2023

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If you like truck stuff, then you'll be interested in what Nissan is bringing to the 2022 SEMA Show. With three of the company's main booth vehicles are pickups, you'd think this would be an all off-road display, but don't fret—there's some refreshing variety. Nissan will also display a new Ariya concept that's ready for the next wave, and two 2023 Zs that are ready for the track and the street. You'll find them all in the Center West Hall at SEMA 2022.

This 1980s Nissan Sunny pickup straddles the mini-truckin' and tuner genres. It's painted in the classic Brock Racing Enterprises (BRE) paint scheme made famous by their Trans-Am efforts (especially their Two-Five Challenge 510s) and this Tommy Pike Customs (TPC) Sunny is in the John Morton livery with "46" proudly worn on the sides and hood of this small pickup. However, it's what's under its hood that makes this Hakosuka-nosed Sunny a shocking tale. Rather than use the original A12 1.2-liter I-4, swap in the more powerful A14 1.4-liter I-4, or go with a modern SR20DET, this Sunny pickup uses a Nissan Leaf electric motor. This is done by using a custom bellhousing adapter to mate it to the original F4W56A transmission (which also means this was originally an A12-equipped Sunny pickup). That means that transmission is dealing with more than twice its original horsepower (147 compared to the A12's 69 ponies) and a massive increase in torque (236 lb-ft versus 70 lb-ft).

Hopefully the motor controller knows to be gentle when applying the power, or TPC upgraded the gears, as the 56A didn't take too kindly to the A14s and couldn't handle one with a turbocharger for very long. The battery installed in this electric-conversion pickup is the Leaf S's 40-kWh battery pack, which was originally good for 149 miles of driving range. Nissan didn't state what the new range is using the Sunny's four-speed transmission, but it might actually improve despite the squared off Hakosuka front end.

To get the important data from the battery and motor, the Sunny uses a custom display designed by Clemson University's International Center for Automotive Research (ICAR). The interior is also fully customized by TPC using Laedana material from Tesca, a leather-like coated microfiber material with the feel of Nappa without the weight of the material and the guilt of using animal hide. The other conversion done to the Sunny pickup is a 240SX S13 front suspension swap, which gives it updated steering, suspension and brakes versus the original 1980s era parts. It also has a new rear leaf spring setup to give it a great looking stance along with heavier-duty parts. That stance really sets up the Sunny perfectly for the 17-inch Rotiform wheels with AeroDisc covers that look period-correct and wrapped in stretched 205/45R17 Toyo Extensa tires all around.

Though, if an EV swap isn't something you're looking for, Nissan also has a new Frontier with a traditional engine swap. Instead of trying to use the VR30DDTT from the new Z, Chris Forsberg and the Forsberg Racing team decided to go back to their drifting roots to use a 5.6-liter V-8 VK56VD from a Titan. The good news is that this doesn't require a custom bellhousing like his drift car did, as the Jatco JR913E is the same automatic nine-speed transmission in both trucks (and, coincidentally, the new Z). That's not the only wild part about this Frontier, as it uses a longer-travel suspension with Bilstein coilovers and lift to fit a set of 295/70R18 Maxxis Razr MT tires on Nismo Off-Road Axis wheel in 18x9 all around.

Not only did this longer travel suspension use a set of Titan front spindles and the rear axle (a common swap for Frontiers since the 2005-2021 D40 generation), but it also required the use of a custom widebody kit using carbon fiber and a prototype front bumper that reduces the front approach angle, tire clearance, and where the hidden Warn winch resides.. The hood on this V-8 Frontier is also custom and made from carbon fiber, as well. The V-8 Frontier also has two full-size spares with matching wheels, set up in true pre-runner style in the bed of the truck using a NISMO Off-Road in-bed tire carriers. This necessitated the need for a NISMO Off-Road roof rack that sports a full set of NISMO Off-Road LED lights with matching lights at the A-pillars, just in front of the hood.

Prefer to live life a little closer to the ground? Then this 2022 Frontier King Cab S, built by social media star, Christina Roki, will be more your style. First, it's sitting on a custom-made lowering kit to get the right stance on this street truck. It sits the custom Performance Lab Detroit widebody kit over the 275/45R20 Bridgestone Potenza Sport tires that wrap around the barrels of the Black Rhino Kaizen 20x9.5 wheels. To give the Frontier a bit more of a sporty sound, the catback exhaust comes from Magnaflow's Street Series to give the VQ38DD V-6 a throatier sound. Some additional aero help comes from the Tyger T3 tri-fold tonneau cover over the bed. The Aerowerkz headlights are smoked to give the front lighting a bit of an understated look while the tinted windows by MC Whips gives the Frontier a proper street truck look—almost a shame, because it does prevent anyone from seeing the custom Alcantara upholstery done inside. The wild looking graphic on the side was designed by Terra Strada Design and wrapped by Bigtime Graphicss in Dearborn, Mich.

Bringing back classic, California-style surf vibes is this 2023 Nissan Ariya done by Tommy Pike Customs (TPC), and it gets nearly everything right. First, it's sitting on a set of 20-inch smoothie wheels in aqua with polished stainless steel center caps with the "Nissan" simplified logo applied to them. Those smoothies are wrapped in whitewall tires that leave the perfect gap between fender and tire thanks to a custom suspension. Up top, the roof rack is custom and made to hold seven-foot surfboards ready to hit that next wave. Tying everything together is a custom wrap in desert tan and that (unfortunately simulated) woodie look. Other than that, this Ariya makes for the perfect way to hit a SoCal beach.

Finally, Nissan is bringing two 2023 Zs to their booth with radically different goals. The first we'll mention is Chris Forsberg's Formula Drift Z that finished in the top five of a tight 2022 championship and an excellent result for a brand new car. We've covered this car in detail just when their season started, so check that out here.

The other 2023 Z is a NISMO showcase of performance improvements to the newest Nissan sports car. First, the suspension gets reworked with a new twin-tube coilover with a linear race spring. This new coilover is rebound and ride height adjustable with development done in conjunction with Nissan racing driver, Bryan Heitkotter (who also drives for Chris Forsberg Racing and comes from the esports sim racing world). Additional suspension improvements include a new NISMO adjustable anti-sway bar kit, a prototype NISMO strut tower bar, and various NISMO production suspension links, upper control arms, and tie rod ends. The front brakes are NISMO six-piston front calipers using larger front rotors while the rear uses NISMO four-piston calipers on larger rotors and all four corners use stainless-steel brake lines. Of course, a new Z needs a new forged wheel and this time it's the NISMO LM-RS1 in 19x9.5 front and 19x10.5 rear. These forged, lightweight wheels are equipped with Bridgestone RE71RS tires in 255/40R19 front and 285/35R19 rear.

It's not just the suspension that's seen work on this Z. Under the hood is a new, dyno-proven NISMO cold-air intake and is awaiting CARB approval to make it 50-state legal. There is also a larger NISMO heat exchanger for the charge air that is 148 percent larger in volume, according to Nissan. Piping out the used air and fuel mixture is a NISMO stainless-steel track exhaust that measures out to 2.25 inches on the OD and reduces power-robbing backpressure. To help handle the extra power, a new NISMO twin-disc street clutch and flywheel is equipped and designed to handle up to 800 hp and 750 lb-ft of torque without the harsh feel and hard pedal effort. No, this Z isn't making that much power. Yet. However, it's good to be a bit overkill when it comes to something driving torque to your drive wheels on the track. Losing power as you accelerate out of that last corner sucks. Other NISMO parts on this 2023 Nissan Z include carbon fiber mirror covers, a NISMO badged fuel filler cover, kick plates, a titanium GT shift knob, a prototype NISMO carbon fiber steering wheel trim kit, a NISMO carbon fiber engine cover, NISMO coolant expansion tank, and oil filler cap.

If you want to see all these amazing Nissans, you'll need to attend the 2022 SEMA Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center on November 1-4 and find booth 52141 in the Center West Hall. They will also have a wall of new parts on display for both street and off-road.