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Turns Out the New Nissan Frontier Looks Fantastic on Old Hardbody Pickup Wheels

The Project Hardbody is one of three modified Frontier concepts coming to the Chicago Auto Show.

Nostalgic Nissan truck fans rejoice because Nissan is bringing three modified Frontier “concepts” to the 2022 Chicago Auto Show—two of which tip their rugged caps to a couple of classic Nissan pickups: the D21 Hardbody and the Datsun 720. Nissan calls them the Project Hardbody, the Project 72X, and the Project Adventure, and they’re all based on 2022 Nissan Frontier Crew Cabs.

As you will probably have already worked out, the Project Hardbody pays tribute to the iconic pickup of the same name. Built atop a 2022 SV 4×4 Frontier, the Project Hardbody is painted red and sits on a three-inch Calmini lift kit with adjustable upper control arms. Pro-4X overfenders surround 33-inch BFGoodrich all-terrain tires wrapped around what is, in my view, this truck’s pièce de résistance: blocky three-spoke wheels just like the ones on the old Nissan Hardbody. There’s also a spare tire carrier mounted in the bed, a sport bar with Rigid 10-inch LED lights, a blacked-out front end, a front skid plate taken from the Pro-4X, and ’80s-style decals down the side.

I don’t know about you, but seeing a brand new Nissan truck rocking those wheels warms my ’90s kid heart.

The Project 72X, meanwhile, is a sendup of the old Datsun 720, the D21’s ’80s predecessor and, as it happens, the very first Nissan vehicle assembled in the U.S. (Smyrna, Tennessee, to be exact). Based on an S 4×4 trim Frontier, the 72X rocks white steelies like the 720 did (these wheels happen to be the actual spares that come on the new Frontier) shod in the same Hankook Dynapro AT2 all-terrain tires that come on the Pro-4X Frontier. The Project 72X’s Calmini lift measures 2.5 inches and the truck, similar to the Project Hardbody, features adjustable front upper suspension arms as well as a sport bar aft of the cab. 

It’s not all rose-tinted glasses and nostalgia, though, because Nissan’s also cooked up the Project Adventure, a Frontier customized specifically for overlanding, naturally one of this decade’s quickest-growing hobbies. Based on a Frontier Pro-4X, the Adventure has been lifted by five inches and rides on 34-inch BFGoodrich all-terrain tires. There’s also a bed rack system and roof basket by Yakima, a 50-inch Rigid lightbar, an iKamper sky tent, and a Kicker Bluetooth bed audio system. There’s also a snorkel made of carbon fiber (a custom Nissan part), RotoTraX recovery boards, and RotoPaX containers with mounts. Its custom wrap has a map of the U.S. on it… y’know, in case you get lost and can’t get a GPS signal.

While these three “Project” Frontiers are strictly show cars and not actual special editions of the Frontier available at any Nissan dealerships, hopefully they’ll inspire Frontier owners to get creative and spruce up their own rides. When our man James Gilboy drove the stock Frontier last year, he enjoyed its modern styling, strong powertrain, improved drive, deeming it a “true midsize contender” that reminds you of the previous Frontier in mostly good ways. The 2022 Nissan Frontier is powered by a 310-horsepower, 3.8-liter naturally aspirated V6.

The 2022 Chicago Auto Show is happening Feb. 12 to 21 at McCormick Place, where all three Frontier concepts will be on-site.

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