Nissan's Retro Frontiers Prove Wheels Can Still Look Good

When was the last time you saw factory tri-spokes on a pickup?

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Let’s face it: most modern wheels suck. Every car, truck, and SUV is sitting on identical black-and-silver two-tone wheels, usually with a bit of asymmetry to each spoke. Not only are the designs uninteresting, but they’re so homogenous — nothing ever stands out. Nissan, it seems, is as tired of boring wheels as we all are: The company brought three Frontiers to the 2022 Chicago Auto Show, and two retro-inspired models are wearing some pretty incredible shoes.

Nissan handed the keys to three Frontiers to its Nissan Design America team out in San Diego, and seemingly asked for “the raddest trucks possible, please and thank you.” The NDA team came up with these three designs, all too interesting not to disclose.

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Arguably the least interesting of the three is the “Project Adventure” overland concept. Sure, a five-inch lift and a rooftop tent is pretty much the entire list of criteria I plug into late-night Craigslist searches, but it’s not unique. Everyone’s doing overlanding right now, and the Project Adventure concept doesn’t have sick wheels to make it stand out.

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Photo: Nissan
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Not as sick as those on the “Project 72X” concept, anyway. Nissan claims this concept is based on the Datsun 720, which seems to just mean “side stripe graphic that says 4x4 and white steel wheels.” To be clear, this is not a complaint — those should be factory on every trim of every truck from every manufacturer — but the stripes themselves don’t actually seem to match any factory graphics for the 720.

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Photo: Nissan
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That brings us to the “Project Hardbody” and its extremely good wheels. “Hardbody” is already one of the best truck names ever put out to market, but the original truck was available with some perfectly Rad-era three-spoke wheels. While the new Hardbody concept mimics those, they seem to be a unique design — not just a leftover in Nissan’s parts bin. Take a closer look:

Yeah, that’s the good stuff
Yeah, that’s the good stuff
Photo: Nissan
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Both the new and old Hardbody wheels are a six-lug pattern, but the updated ones have a much smaller circle of lug nuts relative to the wheel’s overall size. It makes sense, then, that these are 17" wheels rather than the original Desert Runner’s 15"s.

Nissan hasn’t announced that any of these concepts are headed for production, and these custom one-off wheels seem like one of the last parts to ever make an appearance in a showroom. Still, I can dream. And maybe make the wheels my phone wallpaper.