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The front 3/4 view of the red-and-black 2022 Nissan Frontier Project Hardbody at the 2022 Chicago Auto Show

The 2022 Chicago Auto Show Nissan Frontier Concepts Are Rad DIY Fun

Inspired by a desire to get out and have fun as well as vintage trucks, the three 2022 Nissan Frontier Project builds at the Chicago Auto Show aren't just concepts. Frontier owners can recreate them using their own pickups as bases--and the Hardbody wheels might become future accessories.

2022 Nissan Frontier Chicago Auto Show concepts article highlights:

  • Nissan showed off a trio of 2022 Frontier concepts dubbed ‘Projects’ at the Chicago Auto Show
  • The Frontier Project Adventure focuses on overlanding, while Project 72X and Project Hardbody mimic trucks from the 1970s and 1980s
  • Almost all of the three trucks’ parts come from the Nissan accessory catalog or known aftermarket suppliers, so you can recreate them with stock 2022 Frontiers

Seeing wild concept cars at auto shows might be exciting, but it’s often bittersweet since they rarely appear on the street. However, not all concepts are just hype machines or styling exercises. Such is the case with the special ‘Project’ 2022 Frontier concepts Nissan brought to the 2022 Chicago Auto Show. While they’re certainly not lacking in style, these trucks have substance to match—and that you can (mostly) get yourself.

If you dream of off-road adventures, the 2022 Nissan Frontier Project Adventure is ready to overland

With overlanding’s popularity growing ever higher, Nissan wanted to build a 2022 Frontier that could suit participants’ needs. The result is the Project Adventure, and its name is no joke.

Based on a Crew Cab Frontier Pro-4X, Project Adventure is tricked out with a multitude of overlanding accessories. For one, it has a Calmini 5” lift kit with adjustable upper suspension arms. Also, it rides on 34” BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM3 tires that are wider than stock and have more sidewall, MotorTrend says.

In addition, it has a Yakima OverHaul System bed rack with a Rigid E-Series 50” LED light bar, RototraX traction boards, and RotopaX containers. Up top, there’s a Yakima Loadwarrior cargo basket and an iKamper Skycamp 2.0 tent. And besides the rack, the bed also houses a Kicker tailgate Bluetooth-enabled audio system.

That audio system, as well as the bed rack, black tailgate lettering, step rails, and black exhaust finish, are all Nissan accessories. The rest are aftermarket add-ons. Really, the only ‘concept’ parts are the custom wrap and the Nissan Design America (NDA) carbon-fiber snorkel.

The 2022 Nissan Frontier Project 72X is one subtly rad truck concept

Compared to the accessorized Project Adventure, the next 2022 Nissan Frontier concept is a bit more restrained. But while it doesn’t have as many toys, Project 72X is arguably more stylish.

While Project Adventure is based on the Pro-4X, Nissan based Project 72X on the 2022 Frontier Crew Cab S 4×4. So, it doesn’t have the former trim’s Bilstein shocks, multiple skidplates, hill-descent control, or electronically-locking differential. But then, a bare-bones, affordable nature is what drove people to this concept’s namesake, the Datsun 720. And when the design team was working on the concepts, that’s precisely what inspired Project 72X, a Nissan rep told me: simple and affordable.

However, Project 72X packs more than some sweet throwback graphics. It has a black exhaust finish and sport bar from the brand’s accessories catalog, as well as an aftermarket Calmini 2.5” lift kit with adjustable upper suspension arms. Also, it has the Pro-4X’s Hynakook tires wrapped around OEM Frontier spare steelie wheels. Yes, those are genuine 2022 Frontier spare wheels, just painted white.

Nissan might’ve stolen the 2022 Chicago Auto Show with the Frontier Project Hardbody’s looks and wheels

Project 72X might have ‘80s street cred, but the 2022 Nissan Frontier Project Hardbody is packing Radwood royalty levels of it. And that’s even before you look at its wheels.

Based on the Frontier Crew Cab SV 4×4, Project Hardbody references the iconic Nissan ‘Hardbody’ pickup. That’s the same truck that last year’s Rebelle Rally Frontier Pro-4X, which was also at the 2022 Chicago Auto Show, referenced with its red-white-and-blue livery. This new Frontier concept doesn’t wear the same colors, but its custom tri-spoke wheels mimic the Hardbody Desert Runner’s wheels.

Besides those wheels, the Nissan design team gave Project Hardbody a 3” Calmini lift kit with adjustable upper arms, Rigid E-Series 10” lights, and BFGoodrich T/A KO2 tires. From the Nissan accessories catalog, the truck got a sport bar, black hood graphic, black exhaust finish, Pro Grade skidplate and over fenders, side rails with the steps removed, and Utili-trak lower rails.

Also, in addition to the custom graphics and the light bar and spare-tire bed mounts, the design team replaced several stock red trim pieces with black ones. The textured upper-grille trim and the amber foglights are custom pieces, though.

You can (mostly) recreate these concepts on your own Frontier

While these 2022 Nissan Frontier Projects are technically concepts, the design team created them with fun-loving owners in mind. A Nissan rep at the 2022 Chicago Auto Show said that the designers were essentially told, “If you had the opportunity to personalize, to make [this truck] your own, what would you do with it?”

Also, Hiren Patel, the NDA project lead designer, is a big vintage Nissan truck fan. And he drew direct inspiration from the fun-promoting pickup ads of his youth. Hence the ’70s and ‘80s graphics as well as the overlanding-focused Project Adventure; the latter is today’s truck fun.

And that fun is fairly easy to access. Apart from a few custom pieces, you can turn your 2022 Nissan Frontier into a copy of these Projects. Many of the parts are available from Nissan itself or from known aftermarket suppliers. And now that Nismo Off-Road makes lift kits, you don’t necessarily have to shop for Calmini kits. As for the graphics, well, that’s what custom vinyl wrap services are for.

The only things you can’t get are the Project Hardbody wheels—yet. Although they’re custom, they’re not one-offs. Perhaps sensing future interest, NDA made two sets: one for the show and another for product testing. And the Nissan rep confirmed that the automaker is currently evaluating them for production. If they’re approved, they likely won’t be milled like the show wheels. However, don’t be surprised if those tri-spokes show up at your local Nissan dealer.

Now, the only remaining question is, which Frontier Project will you choose to emulate?

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