This article originally appeared in the Winter 2017 issue.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but when I see new stuff from Nissan, it gets my heart pumping a little bit. The first truck I ever bought was a 2004 TITAN. As with everything, time and the elements took their toll, but it served me well for a lot of years. When Nissan first announced the XD, my ears perked up again. When I laid my eyes on one in person at SEMA in 2015, I got even more excited. It kills me to say it, but I knew I needed to hold off from getting one, at least for the time being. Anytime a new truck is introduced, it takes some time for aftermarket companies to get their hands on one and start making new products that take advantage of its particular attributes. Plus, I didn’t exactly have 50 grand just lying around.
Fast-forward to this year’s SEMA Show. Hellwig Suspension Products put together something very special, something that I had to stop the presses for. Dubbed the [Rule Breaker], their one-of-a-kind TITAN XD is a badass off-road camping rig equipped with a Lance truck camper and of course, a custom Hellwig suspension. To quote a famous movie, “Gentlemen, you had my curiosity, but now you have my attention.”
Impossible To Ignore
Hellwig is best known for its sway bars and tow/haul suspension products, so when I first heard the scuttlebutt about this truck, I knew we’d be in for a treat. Now that I had it in front of me, my jaw was firmly planted on the floor.
The TITAN XD is already a pretty aggressive-looking truck, but the makeover Hellwig gave the [Rule Breaker] is out of this world. Obviously, the first thing you notice is the camper shell itself. It’s the main feature of the truck, after all! Lance is well-known in the recreation industry for making some of the best campers, travel trailers and toy haulers around. With more than 50 years of building experience, it’s hard to argue. The Lance 650 on the XD is designed specifically for half-ton pickups with an aluminum frame, a tankless water heater, Bluetooth/app enabled audio system, keyless entry, and more. If you made a checklist of the things you wanted in a truck camper, this thing would have it all, and then some.
We were struck by just how roomy the interior was, especially since it’s a camper sitting in a truck bed. There’s a kitchen/preparation area right as you walk in, then a bed/sleeping area that extends above the cab of the pickup with a surprising amount of head space, as well as a little built-in TV. Perfect for a quick weekend getaway!
With a wet weight of 1,842 pounds with standard equipment, it’s a pretty hefty package, one that a stock TITAN XD suspension would be ill-equipped to handle. The XD itself is a great platform for off-roading thanks to both its Cummins engine and high payload and towing capacity, so Hellwig decided to make that ride a little bit sweeter to accommodate the camper.
All The Way Up
Hellwig installed their “Big Wig” 2,800-pound air springs to do the job. These springs allow you to fine-tune your load support and ride quality as well as level your load both front-to-back and side-to-side. In addition, Hellwig installed their new forged adjustable rear sway bar to help with control both on the highway and on those windy back country roads. Both of these will help keep the truck’s ride height level and will counter the increased potential for body roll due to its higher center of gravity.
To really get things turned up to 11, Hellwig took the truck to an expert team at LGE-CTS Motorsports in San Dimas, Calif. The first thing on their plate was giving the truck more clearance so it can get around harsh terrain more easily. The solution? A Stage 3 suspension kit from Icon Vehicle Dynamics with adjustable coilovers that raised the truck three inches. The ride is very impressive and is up to whatever gets thrown at it. We’ve installed these kits on our own project trucks and they never disappoint.
It’s What’s Outside That Counts
Next, they made the truck look even meaner by adding a Fab Fours bumper, Baja Designs lights, and sidestep bars by N-Fab. They also installed a Warn winch, Factor 55 winch shackle and a custom hitch mount to the front bumper to let the winch move to either end of the truck at a moment’s notice. A four-inch MagnaFlow DPF-back stainless steel exhaust was added to give the truck a nice throaty growl, and to give power to the whole truck, Hellwig put in an OPTIMA battery that will handle the load for both the truck and the camper. To round out the interior, they dropped in a set of WeatherTech floor mats to keep things clean during those long trips up in the hills.
More exterior modifications followed, this time with the goal of maximum traction. Hellwig used 18-inch Method Roost wheels wrapped in Falken LT325/65R18 Wildpeak AT3W all-weather off-road tires, then added a set of Bushwacker Pocket Style Fender Flares to achieve optimum clearance for the tires. They also added a Hypertech programmer to adjust the truck’s computer for the larger tire size, as well as a set of Torklift Fast Gun tie-downs and Talon frame mounts to keep the camper in its proper place while the truck is tackling mountain roads. Lastly, they went with BOLT Locks to secure both the winch and the camper by using a receiver lock and trailer coupler lock, and to round out the entire package they installed a T-Rex X-Metal grille.
Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that killer paint job. I don’t normally go for the bumblebee look, but there’s just something about the way the whole thing ties together, from the lines switching colors at the bottom of the front doors to the contrast of the black camper with the rest of the truck that just speaks to my soul. Maybe I just really like Transformers?
This is one of the more unique trucks I’ve seen, all the more so because it’s a TITAN XD, which is still a relatively new player in the diesel market. The cool things Hellwig has done with it give me hope that more aftermarket modifications will be on the way soon, though it’ll be hard to live up to what they’ve put together with the [Rule Breaker]. I guess I better start saving my pennies.
Hellwig Suspension Products
Icon Vehicle Dynamics
Method Race Wheels