Retro-filled shots to the arm are a popular way to endear a car company to its fan base, especially us pickup truck wonks who pine for the so-called ‘good old days’ when things weren’t really good at all. Nevertheless, it generally only takes a stripe-n-wheel package to get some fans all hot and bothered – and Nissan has tapped into this with gusto at the Chicago Auto Show.
First up is the Project Hardbody, a name many of us remember from the ‘80s and ‘90s when Nissan hawked a compact truck of the same name on these shores. This is also a good time to remind everyone that a Hustler package was available in some markets, meaning customers could sign a 48-month note on a machine called a Hardbody Hustler. Excellent.
This time around, the Project Hardbody incorporates a yaffle of visual clues from that era, including a tremendous set of wheels with faces made from chunky geometric shapes. Adding to the drama is a 3-inch lift with 17-inch BFGoodrich KO2 tires and a black front fascia with amber-tinted fog lamps. A light bar, some throwback 4×4 graphics, and gnarly skid plates round out the deal. All this thing needs is a stripe package from the old Desert Runner trim to put this nostalgia into high gear.
Project 72X takes its cues from the old-school Datsun 720 pickup truck and is immediately identifiable by its white-painted steel wheels. The stripe package will time warp you back to the early-‘80s and looks pretty good against the grey factory paint. There’s a 2.5-inch lift kit under the truck along with a set of Hankook all-terrains. The stylized cab extender is denuded of forward-facing lights in this example.
Last out of the gate is Project Adventure, a take on the ever-popular overlanding hobby, a type of self-reliant off-roading in which one carries just about everything they need for a couple of nights off the grid. Here we find a light bar, roof cargo basket, and a smattering of accessories like fuel cans and recovery boards. Don’t laugh at the latter – you author has put those things to good use in both muddy and sandy situations and can confirm they’ll get you out of a jam in jig time. Mechanically, this concept has a 5-inch lift kit, BFG mud-terrains, and a custom snorkel.
While some auto show efforts are pure flights of fancy, what’s shown here – especially the Project Hardbody – is easy to execute since it’s comprised of mostly bolt-on parts. If Nissan is seeking a way into the hearts (and wallets) of its fan base, they should at least make items like those wheels and front bumper treatment available through their parts department post haste.
Become a TTAC insider. Get the latest news, features, TTAC takes, and everything else that gets to the truth about cars first by subscribing to our newsletter.