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There’s not a lot bad you can say about the Nissan Frontier. These often-overlooked midsize trucks are reliable, capable, and decently affordable. The problem is there is plenty of stiff competition in the mid-size truck world. Models like the Toyota Tacoma and Ford Ranger offer a wide range of practical trims and enthusiast-focused models. However, Nissan made some incredibly cool retro-styled Nissan Frontiers when the Frontier was new. These vintage-style pickup trucks were teased but never released. What happened? Could a new Nissan Frontier model be coming? 

Is there a new Nissan Frontier? 

Nissan Frontier Project Hardbody in profile.
Nissan Frontier Project Hardbody | Nissan

It would seem now is the perfect time to release a new Nissan Frontier. However, that doesn’t mean Nissan will. Cody Vella recently reminded us that when the Frontier first came out, the firm also made a series of trucks based on the old Nissan Hardbody trucks. These retro packages were so cool that it’s a little irritating to remember them and then to realize that Nissan could have but didn’t make them. 

As the Nissan Titan seems to circle the drain, we are starting to wonder if the Nissan Frontier might step up in its place with more models. 

The reimagined Nissan Hardbody and Datsun 720

2022 Nissan Frontier Project 72X parked in the desert
Nissan Frontier Project 72X | Nissan

Ok, so when the Frontier came out, Nissan showed a line of trucks based on the iconic vintage trucks, the Datsun 720 and the D21 Hardbody. Nissan called these new Nissan Frontiers the  Project 72X and Project Hardbody. One of the most noticeable trademarks of the 72X is its unmistakably Nissan wheels. Those white steelies are a welcomed return, for sure. The unmistakable ‘80s (ugly) angular wheels on the Hardbody are a clear blast from the past either if they aren’t as cool as the white steelie wheels. 

The other distinctively retro aspects of the Hardbody and Datsun 720 tributes are the badass graphics. Nothing says vintage off-road quite like a bold Special Edition graphics package. The giant gradient 4×4 logo with the streaks screams 1980s pickup truck. It is cooler than a snake in the shade. Lastly, the roll bar in the front of the bed is perfection. The entire package exudes cool. 

What happened to these Nissan Frontiers?

Nissan Frontier Project Hardbody in the desert
Nissan Frontier Project Hardbody | Nissan

Since the release of these retro special editions concepts, the trail went cold. We haven’t heard anything else about these Nissan trucks since their debut until recently. While we haven’t gotten many details, rumors of the Hardbody’s return are swirling.

If we look at the last few years, off-road focused, vintage-inspired designs have done very well for automakers. The silliest part is, it’s not like Nissan would even have to do that much. Graphics packages and special wheels is all you need to stir some interest.

Most buyers don’t require real performance. Look at how many “off-road” packages there are out there compared to how many drivers actually take their trucks and SUVs off-road. Whether good or bad, most people care about having a truck that looks tough over having one that actually is tough. And, more to the point, even trucks that are tough and made for proper off-road rarely get driven that way. It’s a shame that Nissan dragged its feet on these special editions. Maybe with the ending of the Titan, Nissan might be motivated to bring us a rad new version of the Frontier.