Nissan brings back the Hardbody truck with a tribute model

Nissan/Tim Sutton

The Nissan Hardbody is back—sort of.

Introduced in late 1986, Nissan’s pickup truck was just another also-ran until the Hardbody pickup advertising campaign debuted, making America think that Japan’s little bull-nosed pickup was tougher than the competition.

Sales increased and stayed strong right up until the rather delicate-looking Frontier debuted for the 1998 model year, replacing the Hardbody. A second-generation Frontier arrived for the 2005 model year, and the current-generation Frontier followed for 2022.

For 2024, Frontier enters the new model year with a throwback touch in the shape of the Hardbody Edition, “a nostalgic tribute to the original Nissan Hardbody pickup of the 1980s.”

1990 Nissan Hardbody from Nissan Heritage Collection
Nissan | Tim Sutton

The Hardbody Edition starts with a well-equipped Crew Cab SV 4×4 and adds three-spoke, heritage-styled 17-inch alloy wheels that closely replicate the look of those on the original truck, shod in all-terrain tires. An aluminum skid plate, black-over fenders, a black side rail, mud flaps, and a bed-mounted sport bar contribute to the retro-rugged look.

Like its ’80s namesake, the Hardbody Edition wears black-painted bumpers, mirrors, door handles, and grille. Completing the package, the truck wears black graphics “that deliver throwback cool,” with a large “4×4” logo on the front doors and a tailgate graphic that features a cut-out “Nissan” logo, replacing the truck’s typical Nissan tailgate emblem.

“We took some of those design elements and modernized them. Even if you don’t recognize or remember the original Hardbody, you’re still going to say, ‘That’s a cool truck,'” said Hiren Patel, project lead designer for Nissan Design America.

“I was constantly searching for Hardbody trucks for sale online, and I had pictures of them up all over the studio,” he continues. “As the first full production model designed by our studio, it’s an important piece of history to us at Nissan Design America.”

The limited-edition package has an MSRP of $3890.

2024 Nissan Frontier Hardbody Edition and classic Hardbody vintage
Nissan/Tim Sutton

The 2024 Frontier also adds an SL grade on Crew Cab models. It bundles several features—such as LED lighting, leather-appointed seating, a Fender 10-speaker audio system, and more—in a grade level that reflects customers’ interest in a highly equipped midsize truck.

Additionally for 2024, available NissanConnect Services now includes a three-year trial (up from a six-month trial previously). The telematics feature works with the MyNissan smartphone app and includes remote door lock/unlock, remote engine start/stop, vehicle health report, emergency calling, and Nissan Skill for Amazon Alexa 2.

Nissan Hardbody design team vintage compact truck 1990
Members of the Nissan Hardbody design team are seen in this photo from 1990. Nissan

The 2024 Nissan Frontier offers an array of bed lengths, drivetrain configurations, and grades. The Frontier King Cab is offered with a 6-foot bed, the Crew Cab S and PRO-X/PRO-4X models feature a 5-foot bed and the Crew Cab SV is offered with either a 5-foot or a 6-foot bed.

Prices for the 2024 Frontier start at $29,770, not including shipping.




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    I agree with snailish, the new one should be the size of the old one. And why not do something funky with the rear side windows?

    I hope the new Hardbodies (nee D21) don’t rust as badly as the originals…I went through three front bumpers in ten years, and the bed floor was mostly plastic liner by the time I sold it. Even the inch thick front suspension radius rods rusted all the way through. After 16 years of road salt and beach driving, my “delicate looking” ’07 Frontier has virtually no rust–other than the rear bumper (on its second…) and the factory trailer hitch.

    Love the idea, sans the nearly $4k price tag for what is essentially an appearance package. How hard would it be to paint the part above the grill red (body color) and add three black faux slots where “FRONTIER” is debossed? That would be a cool throwback design cue. That said, the wheels are really great.
    As former owner of an original Hardbody, I agree with the size comment above. Ford seems to be doing well with the even smaller Maverick, and a real pickup for that segment seems to be a need.
    My little D21 Hardbody was a stud. Nissan led the compact pickup market by introducing a V6 (which mine had) that really set it apart. That really was one tough truck. I never had any rust issues (in Tennessee), and I beat it to death on hunting trails, building houses, towing, hauling firewood, and doing stuff most truck owners do. Stephen Cole Smith named the replacement model right by “delicate looking,” but it may have been more accurate to drop the “looking.” It’s why I bought a new S-10 and Toyota. Nissan just seemed to (ironically) soften the truck after they named it Frontier.

    just another 4-4-4 door TANK!!! as noted a copy of the original with a lower price could compete + sell AKA ford Maverick

    Got a really nice low mile ’92 Toyota DX long bed pick up with R-22 4 cyl. 5 speed 2 wheel drive . Best truck ever made.

    Too big and too many doors for me. I can’t relate to the apparent lack of an affordable compact pick up truck with single cab or extended cab options so I’ll just keep driving my 20 year old truck and let someone else drive something that cost 20 times the price.

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