Getting to Know the Nissan D21 Hardbody

Forum for the Xterra, Frontier and Hardbody, the smaller workhorses of the Nissan lineup!
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Rev_D21
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Getting to Know the Nissan D21 Hardbody

Postby Rev_D21 » Sat Dec 29, 2012 3:03 pm

Welcome to the world of the Nissan D21 Hardbody. This thread compiles years of research along with information supplied directly from Nissan current and former staff as well as testimony from current and former factory sponsored race truck drivers. The goal of this article is to put all factual published and unpublished information in one place. From pre-production to racing to OEM option packages and restoration information this thread covers the Hardbody in more detail than anywhere else and it grows daily. Have information you would like to add? Make sure you cite your sources if you do post up here. This article only covers factory information, modification information can be found throughout NICOclub but is purposely left out to stay focused on the history of the truck itself. Thanks for looking!


Part I: Project 850 The Next Generation
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1971
Buick launches the Boat Tail Riviera designed by Jerry Hirschberg and team. The reason I mention this is to establish that the Hardbody is a truly USA design with some strong DNA.

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Buick Riviera as designed by Jerry Hirschberg (http://www.buick-riviera.com)

1980
Nissan hires Jerry Hirschberg and Tom Semple from General Motors to head the newly formed Nissan Design America (NDA), later to become Nissan Design international (NDI).

1982
NDI begins its first major production design, internally known as the '850', which is to become the Nissan Hardbody. Tom Semple and Allan Flowers are assigned the task of designing the successor to the Nissan 720 pick up truck. The idea behind the design was an industrial look. According to interviews by Semple and Hirschberg the main truck concept was drawn by Semple and augmented by Flower's rational approach especially in the bed design (I am not sure which aspect he is responsible for...need to fill in this gap in info). LA Times Article dated Mar 23, 1986 quotes Semple as saying, "The Japanese emphasized how very important this project was," Semple remembers. "Nissan started the small-truck market, and they wanted this to be the next generation, a vehicle that was all new from the ground up."
Source: http://articles.latimes.com/1986-03-23/ ... can-cars/4

Also worth noting is the designers claim that the Hardbody went into production exactly how they had drawn it on paper, no last minute adjustments, it's exactly as the designers intended it. The same article by the LA Times quotes Hirschberg saying, "And, boy, when the ball gets rolling and we begin negotiating, and then by the time we're finished, they honor that design totally. When it started rolling off the production line, our jaws dropped open at the degree of adherence to the initial concept."

1986
Nissan introduces the NAPS-Z24 2.4L with electro throttle body injection. First offered during the phasing out of the 720 pickup(I would like to find out the exact month the 720 started shipping with TBI) the Z24i will find itself powering thousands of D21 series until sometime in late 1989 when it is replaced with the KA24E for the 1990 model year.

1986.5
Nissan launches the all new Nissan Hardbody truck with initial production in both Japan and the USA. Nissan retires the 720 name plate which had been in production as both Datsun and Nissan since late 1979. Many configurations as well as commercial options are available. The VG30i also becomes available as a V6 option. The D21 is the first state-side Nissan light duty truck to offer a V6. Aside from some housekeeping the frame and suspension used on the D21 is a carryover from the outgoing 720 model though not exactly. Upper control arms now use camber/caster adjustment shims located on the outside of the frame rail instead of the 720's inside the frame rail adjustments. This restricted the amount of negative camber that can be achieved by the removal of shims. 720's had limited positive camber adjustment by design.

Also worth noting about the 1986.5 model year courtesy of member pilikua.
"Here's another useless tid bit.....The 1986.5 V6 King cab trucks had the same smaller 16 gallon gas tank as the regular cabs. In the V6 4x4 king cab the range was horrible. In 1987 the tank size was increased to 21.1 gallons. Not really sure why we decided to launch with the smaller tank, but it could have been that it was an oversight in planning and added late, or wasn't ready in time and they didn't want to hold up the launch of the new truck. Not sure if all 86.5s got the small tanks or just some of them, but by 1987 all V6 king cabs had a 21.1 gallon tank."

1987
Nissan Hardbody wins Industrial Design Excellence Award (IDEA).
Nissan releases SUV version of Hardbody as the WD21 Pathfinder. It is initially offered as a 2 door only configuration until problems arise surrounding duty taxes imposed by the chicken tax law which forces Pathfinder to become a 4 door SUV.

For more in-depth information about the 1987-1995 WD21 Pathfinder visit here: pathfinder-forum-qx4-forum.html

1990
Nissan phases out the NAPS-Z24 in favor of the KA24E. Minor update to front fascia with a new grille. Pathfinder headlight and grille components no longer offered on 2wd trucks. VG30i receives multi-port fuel injection replacing the TBI system thus becoming the VG30E. Minor update in the way of white numbered gauges replacing the orange numbering system.

1991

1991 USDM Paint Codes
531 Vail White
549 Silver Frost
AG2 Aztec Red
AH3 Cherry Red Pearl
BG6 Winter Blue
KH2 Charcoal Pearl
KH3 Super Black
TH1 Midnight Blue Pearl


1993
1993 models have a unique gauge cluster that is only found on well...1993's. It is a transitional gauge cluster as Nissan updated electronics throughout the truck. 1993 is also the first year to feature the famous chrome 'V' grille that everyone switches to. From the outside they can be mistaken for 1994s and 1995s but the square dash gives them away.

Additional Notes: The D21 switched over to electronic VSS by July 1993.

1993 USDM Paint Codes
531 Vail White
AG2 Aztec Red
AH3 Cherry Red Pearl
BJ8 Sea Mist Silver
DJ2 Black Emerald (New for 1993)
KH3 Super Black
KJ5 Slate Gray Pearl
KL0 PLatinum
TH1 Midnight Blue Pearl

1994
Nissan updates the interior with a new dash design, the curvy dash which is a popular swap amongst hot-rodders. The speedometer is no longer cable driven, VSS now controls what the needles reads via the ECM.

1994 USDM Paint Codes
531 Vail White
AG2 Aztec Red
AH3 Cherry Red Pearl
BN3 Calypso Blue (New for 1994MY)
DJ2 Black Emerald
KH3 Super Black
KJ5 Slate Gray Pearl
KL0 Platinum
TK3 Sapphire Blue (New color for D21)

1995
California-spec KA24e fuel injectors change to side feed by at least 2/1995 production dates.

1996
Hardbody receives a driver side air bag and OBDII. Nissan adds a secondary O2 sensor post catalytic converter. The charcoal canister is relocated to the rear of the truck attached to a frame cross member underneath the bed. Also worth noting: this is the first year of the D21 to feature a Consult port located behind the internal fuse box. To try to keep costs down while still offering decent pricing Nissan limits options on all models except the SE. For the first time since introduction there is no V6 option available due to troubles meeting emission requirements.

1996 USDM Paint Codes
AG2 Aztec Red
AH3 Cherry Red Pearl
BR1 Royal Blue
BR2 Pacific Blue
FN4 Vivid Teal
KH3 Super Black
KJ5 Slate Grey
KN4 Platinum Gold
LR0 Megenta
QM1 Cloud White

1997
Final year of US production as the Hardbody is succeeded by the D22 Frontier. Production of the D21 Hardbody does continue in Central America for a few years after the US ceased production(and I need more info on that as well.)

1997 USDM Paint Codes
AG2 Aztec Red
AH3 Cherry Red Pearl
AR0 Autumn Sunburst
BN6 Starfire Blue Pearl
BR2 Pacific Blue
FN4 Vivid Teal
KH3 Super Black
KK0 Anthracite Gray
KN4 Platinum Gold
QM1 Cloud White

FUN FACTS: The name given by Tom Semple to the bulging fenders is "Triceps". The slots on the early hoods are internally known as 'Mail Slots'.

Recommended reading:
http://autospies.com/news/nissan-design ... time-2105/
http://www.fastcompany.com/33191/opposites-attract
where-is-the-very-first-hardbody-t545517.html

Dealer Brochures:
Looking for Hardbody dealer sales brochures? NICOclub.com has the most extensive sale brochure collection anywhere on the net. >>> nissan-hardbody-pathfinder-brochures-t575880.html

Buick Riviera Boat Tail info:
http://www.buick-riviera.com/history.html

How you can help:
Add Your Hardbody to the Registry here>>> nissan-hardbody-registry-t502696.html

Post Pics of your D21 Hardbody here>>> nissan-truck-pics-t273961.html

See a Nissan truck in the scrap yard? Preserve its legacy here>>>> ran-when-parked-nico-edition-t542777.html

How to build a Nissan ITT road race truck>>> how-to-build-a-hardbody-pro-it-race-truck-t472000.html


Looking for help?:
D21 Factory Service Manuals in .pdf format. >>> http://www.nicoclub.com/archives/nissan ... nuals.html

Replacing front torsion bars and bushings>>> http://www.nicoclub.com/archives/nissan ... hings.html

Nissan Axles Identification>>> all-you-needed-to-know-about-nissan-axl ... 33955.html

Driveshaft Identification: >>> understanding-driveshafts-t583304.html

Steering Gear Identification: >>> d21-steering-gear-models-and-ratios-inf ... 83075.html


User avatar
Rev_D21
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Car: 1986.5 D21 LB HD 2WD V6 5Speed
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Location: Somwhere in Western NY
Contact:

Re: Nissan Hardbody Timeline

Postby Rev_D21 » Sat Dec 29, 2012 3:28 pm

1 Rule: Do not post hearsay. Must be able to be backed up with cited sources.

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AZhitman
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Re: Nissan Hardbody Timeline

Postby AZhitman » Sat Dec 29, 2012 10:41 pm

LOVE this idea - I see a massive homepage feature article in our future!

o0Syn
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Re: Nissan Hardbody Timeline

Postby o0Syn » Sun Dec 30, 2012 9:58 am

Awesome idea Rev! Wish I had something to contribute but I will start diggin!

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Rev_D21
Posts: 6913
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2012 Versa 1.6S 5-Speed
Location: Somwhere in Western NY
Contact:

Re: Nissan Hardbody Timeline

Postby Rev_D21 » Sun Dec 30, 2012 2:43 pm

Part II: Race History

SCCA ITT Nissan Race Truck Drivers (Coors Racetruck Challenge)
Image

2WD Factory-Prepared Road Course Trucks
Truck Number/Driver Name

1- Jeff Krosnoff
2- Ray Kong
3- Spencer Low
4- ?????
5- ?????
6- Max Jones
7- Spencer Low
8- Ray Kong?
9- Pepe Pombo
10- Scott Gaylord
11- ?????
12- ?????
13- ?????
14- ?????
15- ?????
16- Ken Grammer
*List Incomplete

More pictures from the Coors Racetruck Series can be found here:
http://mwphoto-misc.smugmug.com/Cars/SC ... -Challenge

Someone was awesome enough to post an entire taped SCCA Coor's Racetruck Series race from 1987 on Youtube here:
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZnSYj1hAPs0[/youtube]

Image

Image



Off-Road Factory-Prepared Race Trucks (Stadium and Baja Listed Together)

Unknown
3- Spencer Low
5- Roger Mears

Class 4
404- Jack Johnson

Class 7
701- Roger Mears
720- Spencer Low
751- Jim Conner
756- Jim Connor
* List Incomplete

Video from the 1989 Nissan 400 baja race with Roger Mears and Spencer Low interviews.

Part 1
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XumCEtKoN1s[/youtube]

Part 2
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WElK8h-vtmk[/youtube]

Part 3
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5zadYhHDXw[/youtube]

Part 4
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCY5E8L0apc[/youtube]

Part 5
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjmM8N-qGNw[/youtube]

Stadium Truck Racing
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=euvYd2bgxRU[/youtube]

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Rev_D21
Posts: 6913
Joined: Sun Jan 12, 2003 9:49 pm
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1991 D21 Reg 2WD Auto
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2012 Versa 1.6S 5-Speed
Location: Somwhere in Western NY
Contact:

Re: Nissan Hardbody Timeline

Postby Rev_D21 » Sun Dec 30, 2012 3:03 pm

Part III: Built for the Human Race: Hardbody in Advertsing

Print ads found in magazines, dealer decorations and brochures.

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*Incomplete Collection

akurtzer57
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Re: Nissan Hardbody Timeline

Postby akurtzer57 » Sun Dec 30, 2012 9:07 pm

From what I have noticed on my 95 were first year for ka24e to have side feed injectors vs topfeed like 94 and earlier. maybe late 94s had them. Havn't seen one yet.

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Rev_D21
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Location: Somwhere in Western NY
Contact:

Re: Nissan Hardbody Timeline

Postby Rev_D21 » Mon Dec 31, 2012 7:41 am

What is the build date of your 1995?

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Re: Nissan Hardbody Timeline

Postby akurtzer57 » Mon Dec 31, 2012 3:44 pm

Build date on mine is 6/95

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Rev_D21
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Contact:

Re: Nissan Hardbody Timeline

Postby Rev_D21 » Mon Dec 31, 2012 4:23 pm

Is it OBDII compliant?

akurtzer57
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Re: Nissan Hardbody Timeline

Postby akurtzer57 » Mon Dec 31, 2012 5:23 pm

Rev_D21 wrote:Is it OBDII compliant?
No

User avatar
Rev_D21
Posts: 6913
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2012 Versa 1.6S 5-Speed
Location: Somwhere in Western NY
Contact:

Re: Nissan Hardbody Timeline

Postby Rev_D21 » Mon Dec 31, 2012 7:05 pm

If you ever get the chance can you get the part number off the top of the ECM for us? This will help determine at which point Nissan switched to sidefeed injectors which I will add to the time line. My 1995 was built 2/95 and still uses the topfeed style injectors. By 2/96 Hardbody was OBDII equipped.

akurtzer57
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Re: Nissan Hardbody Timeline

Postby akurtzer57 » Tue Jan 01, 2013 9:27 am

Rev_D21 wrote:If you ever get the chance can you get the part number off the top of the ECM for us? This will help determine at which point Nissan switched to sidefeed injectors which I will add to the time line. My 1995 was built 2/95 and still uses the topfeed style injectors. By 2/96 Hardbody was OBDII equipped.
Will do. I'm actually running a 89 240sx ecu that is chipped. But still have my factory ecu.

akurtzer57
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Re: Getting to Know the Nissan D21 Hardbody

Postby akurtzer57 » Sun Jan 13, 2013 2:15 pm

Finally dug out my ecu. Heres the number on top of the ecu. MECM-E111 A1 5524

pilikua
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Re: Getting to Know the Nissan D21 Hardbody

Postby pilikua » Sat Feb 09, 2013 11:57 am

So glad I found this thread! I thought I was the only one as passionate about the hardbody! I am an ex Nissan employee. I was in Nissan product planning from 2000 to 2011 and worked directly with NDA. I worked with many of the original hardbody and pathfinder designers. The designers I worked with we're the original team that sketched and clayed the original model.

I am a huge Nissan fanatic and we have 3 nissans, of course they are all my favorites. When I left Nissan we purchased my wife's dream car, a black on black 2011 FX35, and my 2 nissans that will never leave my possession are a 1991 twin turbo 300zx and my prized 1988 loaded hardbody 4x4. I bought the hardbody new, however the Z I have only had since 2010. It took me 2 years to find the perfect Z, but I finally got one.

I am a wealth of useless trivial Nissan hardbody info so if you have anything specific just post a question and I will see if I can answer it. I will check this thread often!

I also have all the brochures for all years as well as some development pics I collected during my years at Nissan. I will try to post some pics of my truck as well as some interesting pics!

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Rev_D21
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2012 Versa 1.6S 5-Speed
Location: Somwhere in Western NY
Contact:

Re: Getting to Know the Nissan D21 Hardbody

Postby Rev_D21 » Mon Feb 11, 2013 7:28 am

This thread just got awesome! Welcome to NICO!

Yes feel free to spread that useless trivial info all over this thread! Ok I have a question for you, can you tell me which part of the Hardbody bed design Allan Flowers was responsible for? And I'd love to see the development pics! You have no idea how glad I am you found this thread. D21 trucks are my passion for sure and being an avid Hemmings reader I enjoy looking at behind the scenes history of them. I see the Z car and it's rabid fans knowing each and every detail you could imagine about the cars history all the way back to the dawn of time, why didn't we have that for the D21? Up until a few years ago Hardbodies were everywhere and could be had for pennies. Shortly after the Cash for Clunkers program good examples are rare and command high pricing. Based on all the evidence and DNA I have been looking at I declared the Hardbody a future classic. Sadly we know more about the Pinto's history than we do the Hardbody's. That's where this thread comes in. Connecting the dots and getting the know the names and faces behind this classic. Hearing old war stories about how the truck went from paper to clay to sheet metal is what this thread is all about. I want this thread to be the definitive Hardbody thread so if and when the HB achieves classic status we can set the story straight. My goal is to tell the tale from beginning to end and everything in between.

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Re: Getting to Know the Nissan D21 Hardbody

Postby 300ZXttZMAN » Mon Feb 11, 2013 3:25 pm

pilikua wrote:So glad I found this thread! I thought I was the only one as passionate about the hardbody! I am an ex Nissan employee. I was in Nissan product planning from 2000 to 2011 and worked directly with NDA. I worked with many of the original hardbody and pathfinder designers. The designers I worked with we're the original team that sketched and clayed the original model.

I am a huge Nissan fanatic and we have 3 nissans, of course they are all my favorites. When I left Nissan we purchased my wife's dream car, a black on black 2011 FX35, and my 2 nissans that will never leave my possession are a 1991 twin turbo 300zx and my prized 1988 loaded hardbody 4x4. I bought the hardbody new, however the Z I have only had since 2010. It took me 2 years to find the perfect Z, but I finally got one.

I am a wealth of useless trivial Nissan hardbody info so if you have anything specific just post a question and I will see if I can answer it. I will check this thread often!

I also have all the brochures for all years as well as some development pics I collected during my years at Nissan. I will try to post some pics of my truck as well as some interesting pics!
I see you also have a TTz32 - wise choice :D

WELCOME TO NICO!!!

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Re: Getting to Know the Nissan D21 Hardbody

Postby LongBeachCoupe » Tue Feb 12, 2013 11:04 am

pilikua wrote:So glad I found this thread! I thought I was the only one as passionate about the hardbody! I am an ex Nissan employee. I was in Nissan product planning from 2000 to 2011 and worked directly with NDA. I worked with many of the original hardbody and pathfinder designers. The designers I worked with we're the original team that sketched and clayed the original model.

I am a huge Nissan fanatic and we have 3 nissans, of course they are all my favorites. When I left Nissan we purchased my wife's dream car, a black on black 2011 FX35, and my 2 nissans that will never leave my possession are a 1991 twin turbo 300zx and my prized 1988 loaded hardbody 4x4. I bought the hardbody new, however the Z I have only had since 2010. It took me 2 years to find the perfect Z, but I finally got one.

I am a wealth of useless trivial Nissan hardbody info so if you have anything specific just post a question and I will see if I can answer it. I will check this thread often!

I also have all the brochures for all years as well as some development pics I collected during my years at Nissan. I will try to post some pics of my truck as well as some interesting pics!
Welcome to the club!
Looking fwd to seeing pictures of the zx, hardbody and some of these development pics you speak of! :ohno:

pilikua
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Re: Getting to Know the Nissan D21 Hardbody

Postby pilikua » Tue Feb 12, 2013 5:23 pm

Hi guys,

I dont have an image sharing site that I use and i think the images have to be hosted. I will PM Rev and email the pics to him directly.

Regarding the bed designer, I'm not sure there was a different bed and cab designer. My understanding was always that they were done by the same person. I know the 2 door pathfinder was designed at NDA, but the 4 door was done in Japan. Interesting tid bit about the 2 door pathfinder....the designer was from Chrysler and had proposed the design for the Ram Charger SUV. He liked the integrated roll bar glass treatment, but couldnt get Chrysler to go for it. He eventually left Chrysler for Nissan and thought a scaled down version would be perfect on the Pathfinder 2 door, and so thats how it came to be.

The accessories that went with the Hardbody (contoured style light bar and front push bar) were also designed by the vehicle designers. Typically accessories are designed by a different group, but back then they had the designers do it. The light bar for the hardbody mimics the side glass treatment of the 2 door pathfinder.

cool huh

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Rev_D21
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Car: 1986.5 D21 LB HD 2WD V6 5Speed
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Re: Getting to Know the Nissan D21 Hardbody

Postby Rev_D21 » Tue Feb 12, 2013 8:18 pm

That is neat info. Who was the designer from Chrysler?

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Rev_D21
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Contact:

Re: Getting to Know the Nissan D21 Hardbody

Postby Rev_D21 » Tue Feb 12, 2013 10:01 pm

I received the email with pics. I will post them all but tonight I am only going to post one of the two best pics IMO.

Look at that wall!!! I near fell out of my seat seeing all those test drawings. In one of the drawings you can see where the 3 scoop hood came from. I'll shut up now!

Image

Direct link here >>> http://img339.imageshack.us/img339/6673 ... orbuck.jpg

Remember you saw it here on NICO first!

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Re: Getting to Know the Nissan D21 Hardbody

Postby pilikua » Wed Feb 13, 2013 3:17 pm

Yep, this is an early interior buck. They use these very early to get an idea of how to set up the interior package, where the A-pillar touch down points should be and how large of a cab they will need to make to achieve the desired results for roominess. This buck helps the designers understand where the seat, steering wheel, pedals and shifter should be. There was an article that said they moved the windshield out to give a bigger feel and more visibility, this is the buck that they tested that hypothesis with.

Yes the 3 bucket hood (internally called mail slots) were a design theme of the day. I think Pulsar also had them, as well as a removable rear hatch that looked like a little pathfinder when it was installed.

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Rev_D21
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2012 Versa 1.6S 5-Speed
Location: Somwhere in Western NY
Contact:

Re: Getting to Know the Nissan D21 Hardbody

Postby Rev_D21 » Wed Feb 13, 2013 8:07 pm

Mail slots! LOL! I love it! And yes, I do remember the Pulsar having those as well, never even put 2 and 2 together on that one.

More pics from pilikua. These are press release photos.

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Delivery anyone? I'd make this one my mobile tool box for track days.
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Some color photos press photos:
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And finally the other money shot...the clay model!!
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Re: Getting to Know the Nissan D21 Hardbody

Postby AZhitman » Wed Feb 13, 2013 8:11 pm

WOW!

That does it - I'm stepping up my search for a V6, manual, 2wd, single-cab D21... want to build a clone of the Coors Challenge trucks. :)

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Re: Getting to Know the Nissan D21 Hardbody

Postby PapaSmurf2k3 » Wed Feb 13, 2013 9:59 pm

This thread rules.
Image
This pic almost looks like a wind-tunnel test model. All those lines on the side depict the direction of airflow :)

EDIT: also, now that I look at it, it also looks like the wheels may be sitting on load cells, which could determine downforce.

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Re: Getting to Know the Nissan D21 Hardbody

Postby o0Syn » Thu Feb 14, 2013 7:01 am

So amazingly AWESOME! I am like a kid on Christmas morning! Thanks for finding us pilikua!!! I could kiss you lol :naughty:

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Re: Getting to Know the Nissan D21 Hardbody

Postby pilikua » Thu Feb 14, 2013 1:13 pm

Haha! Just glad to be able to share this stuff with guys who appreciate it as much as I do!

here is your useless D21 tid bit of the day....

Internally it was referred to as "850". The current truck at the time was a 720 and typically a next generation project is given a project code internally so before Hardbody was Hardbody, it was called 850.

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Q451990
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Re: Getting to Know the Nissan D21 Hardbody

Postby Q451990 » Thu Feb 14, 2013 8:36 pm

Rev_D21 wrote:Image
I still think the "lego wheels" were way ahead of their time. I bought the early QX4 wheels for my Frontier that came with stealies and think of them as kind of an updated version of the same idea...

Image

Heath

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Re: Getting to Know the Nissan D21 Hardbody

Postby AZhitman » Fri Feb 15, 2013 11:42 pm

How about the original D21 Hardbody / Navara dealer brochure?

THIS is cool!!! Thanks to pilikua and Rev for hooking this up!

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Re: Getting to Know the Nissan D21 Hardbody

Postby pilikua » Sun Feb 17, 2013 7:28 am

I found that a few years ago, it's cool to see the brochures from the other markets. I also have a Japanese one and a Mexico one somewhere. Now that we have this thread I'm inspired to find all the hardbody stuff I've collected since 1988 and get to rev for our collection. Im also going to scan all the brochures I have. I think I have every D21 and WD21 brochure since the beginning of time haha


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