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Nissan Unveils 2024 Frontier Hardbody Edition, a Nostalgic Tribute to 1980s Pickup Legacy

The Nissan Hardbody is a vehicle that, while not as glamorous as the Land Rover or as ubiquitous as the Land Cruiser, has gained a reputation worldwide as a tough and reliable workhorse. Globally, the old Hardbody, a rival to the Toyota Hilux, is well respected as this unsung hero quietly serves its purpose year after year; the Hardbody has also earned its fair share of niche fans here in the US.

Nissan Frontier

The Nissan Frontier is gearing up for the new model year with a throwback in the form of the Hardbody Edition. This release pays homage to the original Nissan Hardbody pickup from the 1980s. The Hardbody Edition, available on the Frontier SV Crew Cab 4×4, brings back the essence of the past Hardbody with its heritage-styled 17-inch wheels, retro-inspired decals, all-terrain tires, sports bar, sleek black exterior trim, and other captivating design elements.

Nissan Frontier

In addition to this nostalgic tribute, the 2024 Frontier introduces the SL grade for Crew Cab models. This grade combines an array of appealing features, including LED lighting, luxurious leather-appointed seating, a top-notch Fender 10-speaker audio system, and more. It caters to customers seeking a highly equipped midsize truck, offering style and substance.

Bringing the Hardbody into the future, the 2024 model year includes an extended NissanConnect Services trial spanning three years (up from the previous six-month trial). This telematics feature seamlessly integrates with the MyNISSAN smartphone app, providing convenient functions such as remote door lock/unlock, remote engine start/stop, vehicle health reporting, emergency calls, and compatibility with Nissan Skill for Amazon Alexa 2.

The 2024 Nissan Frontier lineup offers versatility with various bed lengths, drivetrain configurations, and grades (fourteen models in total!). Whether you’re in the market for the off-road excitement of the PRO-X and PRO-4X models or need a practical workhorse, the Frontier gives you options. The Frontier King Cab boasts a 6-foot bed, while the Crew Cab S and PRO-X/PRO-4X variants feature a 5-foot bed. The Crew Cab SV is available with a 5-foot or a 6-foot bed, ensuring a perfect fit for every buyer.

Looking back, it is evident that Nissan’s vehicle portfolio has long catered to a diverse range of drivers, and for six decades, capable trucks like the Nissan Hardbody have been a crucial part of that lineup. The 2024 Frontier Hardbody Edition keeps the legacy of the iconic Hardbody alive, paying homage to a truck that made a lasting mark.

Introduced in 1985, the Hardbody holds a significant place in Nissan’s US history. It tapped into the demand for compact, rugged trucks suitable for work and play, appealing to a broad audience, from landscapers to surfers and everyone in between. Its “Hardbody” moniker derived from its rugged, double-walled bed design, which quickly endeared it to truck enthusiasts globally.

Compared to its predecessor, the Nissan 720, the Hardbody, codenamed D21, featured a more modern exterior design characterized by smooth, flush body surfaces and a spacious cabin enhanced by large windows. The truck’s angled windshield and other design enhancements improved its appearance and boosted aerodynamics and fuel efficiency. Available in standard and double cab configurations with rear or four-wheel drive, the truck embodied the concept of a “Human Oriented Pickup,” featuring a sturdy ladder-type frame, on-the-fly four-wheel drive engagement at speeds of up to 25 miles-per-hour, an optional electric winch, and an in-cabin pitch-and-roll display for 4×4 enthusiasts.

Notably, the Hardbody marked a significant milestone for Nissan’s US operations as one of the first vehicles designed in California by Nissan Design International, Inc. (now Nissan Design America) to reach full series production. In 1982, the team embarked on designing a truck tailored for American drivers. The Hardbody received praise from the media and consumers and earned a Certificate of Achievement award from the Industrial Designers Society of America in 1986.

Like other influential Nissan models, such as the Datsun 510 and the Z, the Hardbody made a name for itself in motorsport. In 1987, Hardbody off-road racing trucks clinched victories in the Baja 1000, Mint 400, and Gold Coast 300 competitions. Nissan introduced a special-edition “Desert Runner” model to celebrate these successes. In 2021, Nissan paid homage to these race-winning trucks by entering a Hardbody-inspired Frontier in the 2021 Rebelle Rally.

The Hardbody’s following among customers and its strong position in the compact truck market laid the foundation for the success of subsequent Nissan trucks. In 1998, the first-generation Frontier succeeded the Hardbody, followed by a second-generation model in 2005, and the current-generation Frontier launched in 2022.

And now, with the introduction of the 2024 Frontier Hardbody Edition, Nissan hopes to relive the spirit of its 1980s truck heritage, blending nostalgia with modern innovation. Fourteen Frontier models are on offer: the entry-level Frontier S King Cab 4×2 starts at $29,770 (MSRP), and the Hardbody Frontier SV Crew Cab 4×4 retails starting at $36,870 (MSRP).


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Graeme Bell is an author and explorer who has dedicated his life to traveling the planet by land, seeking adventure and unique experiences. Together with his wife and two children, Graeme has spent the last decade living permanently on the road in a self-built Land Rover based camper. They have explored 27 African countries (including West Africa), circumnavigated South America, and driven from Argentina to Alaska, which was followed by an exploration of Europe and Western Asia before returning to explore the Americas. Graeme is the Senior Editor 4WD for Expedition Portal, a member of the Explorers Club, the author of six books, and an Overland Journal contributor since 2015. You can follow Graeme's adventures across the globe on Instagram at graeme.r.bell