By on February 9, 2022

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.

[Images: Nissan, 2022 © Tim Healey/TTAC]

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