CC Outtake: Nissan “Hardbody” Pickup – The Genius of Marketing

This pickup is utterly unique. Of all the generations of all the different Japanese mini-pickups, only this generation of Nissans has an instantly recognized and remembered name: Hardbody.  Which makes things so easy; try explaining just exactly which generation Toyota pickup you mean to somebody. Or yourself. But not this hardbody, at least in the US. The brilliance of marketing, on those rare occasions when it works right.


The new Nissan D21 truck arrived for the 1986 model year, and was dubbed “Hardbody” from the get-go. The chunky styling with blistered fenders was distinctive, and set it off from the pack.

I’d forgotten how long the Hardbody was around for: 11 years. In 1997, the new D-22 Frontier finally replaced it. In its case, the “Frontier” name was official, again at least in the US.

This one is still hard at work.


I’m not sure what the two bolted-in steel posts are for, but it makes its body look even harder.


There’s no mistaking or forgetting a hardbody. Makes life simple. Isn’t that what marketers are supposed to do?