History of the Hardbody Pickup
Nissan introduced the "Hardbody" Pickup as the successor to the Datsun 720. The name Datsun was still used by the company from 1980 to 1983 when the company completely renamed itself Nissan beginning with the 1983½ model line of trucks and cars. The D21 pickup was unofficially called the "Nissan Hardbody" in the United States. The truck's name, "Hardbody", refers to its double-wall bed and overall styling. The Hardbody was produced for the U.S. Market from 1986 until 1997, and were direct competition to the Toyota compact pickup. The move from the 720 to the D21 Nissan series body style changed mid-year 1986.5 so the new 'D21' 1986.5 and later Hardbody can easily be distinguished from the earlier 720 body style by its two large headlights rather than four smaller lights and a less boxy, more aggressive appearance.
Features & Performance
The NIssan "Hardbody" Pickup came in 'Standard' and 'King' (also known as 'Extended') versions. Bed lengths were 'standard' 6-foot (2 m) and 'long' seven foot. Both 4-cylinder and V6 engines were available, with the 2.4L 4 cylinder being a respectable-performance SOHC engine that had a 3 valve-per-cylinder head. The 6 cylinder 3.0L VG30E engine increased power and torque only modestly. Major options included air conditioning, larger wheels/tires, sliding rear window, stereo, and rear bumper. There were several trims available including base, XE, and top of the line SE. The XE could be ordered with a 'value package' starting in 1994 which included air conditioning, power mirrors, alloy wheels, and chrome on body trim such as the mirrors and bumpers. The SE was better equipped and could be ordered with the "sport power package" with sunroof, power windows, locks, and mirrors, air conditioning and special "Robot" alloy wheels. In 1993, Nissan had a strange model year crossover which utilized the dashboard of the 1986.5–1992 Model years with a slightly refreshed body appearance as well as some small interior changes and a revised instrument panel, and a first for the auto industry, compliance to the new R134A air conditioning refrigerant. The Hardbody was built through 1996.
The basic truck had a standard transmission, no power windows or door locks, no a/c, no radio, and no rear bumper.
I bought my Nissan to replace my Honda Civic. The Honda didn't have many miles and was still in great condition, but we found ourselves having to borrow friend's trucks frequently to haul furniture and bulky items. An ad in the local paper advertised new Nissans starting at $9000. I went to get one. I told the salesman that I wanted the $9000 Nissan pickup. He asked which one I wanted. I said, "The $9000 one." Then he said something that took me aback. He told me they ALL started at $9000 and were priced upward according to the options. I told him I wanted one with no options, and he showed me the red one. It only had air conditioning, a $600 option, and was priced at $9600. He asked "Do you want to drive it?" I said, "No, I want to buy it." And I did.
The stark interior had no frills; blank plates covered cut-outs for optional accessories, and even the tachometer bezel was empty
It didn't take long to realize that there was absolutely no storage space in the interior. I immediately went and bought a solid fiberglass cargo shell in black with a tinted rear locking window. The erly 90's were the time of the mini-pickup craze, and I considered doing some custom work to the truck: lowering, custom paint, vinyl decals, adding a kickin' sound system or painting the interior panels. The cargo shell was as far as I got.
Where Is It Today?
Tammy mentioned to her father that we wanted to sell the truck. He found a buyer who rode the bus down from Morristown, Tennessee to Niceville, Florida and paid cash for the truck.