Nissan Builds One-Millionth Frontier Pickup

Nissan Builds Millionth Frontier Pickup

The 1 millionth Nissan Frontier pickup truck rolled off the assembly line at Nissan's manufacturing plant in Smyrna, Tenn., last week, according to a blurb in Automotive News.

Nissan was the first mainstream seller of small trucks in the U.S., after earlier efforts by niche automakers, like Bantam and Crosley.

In 1959, Nissan exported the Datsun 1000 to America. It featured a 1000-cc, 37-horsepower four-cylinder engine with a quarter-ton load capacity. A 1200-cc version immediately followed with a 60 hp rating. Sales were no more than a few hundred units per year until the Datsun 520 pickup arrived in 1965, and annual sales jumped to more than 15,000.

In its first year, the Datsun 520 pickup became the top-selling imported pickup in the United States, a title the company held onto for more than a decade.

In 1969, the Datsun truck became the first half-ton compact pickup; in 1975, Datsun trucks offered the first long beds; and in 1977, the King Cab, the first extended-cab compact truck, became available. An all-new pickup — the last to carry the Datsun name — appeared in 1979.

Thanks to its long-running sales success (and to avoid the so-called "chicken tax" that imposed a 25 percent import tariff on most foreign-built pickups), Nissan decided to become the first importer to manufacture pickups in the United States.

1998 Nissan Frontier

The first Nissan pickup rolled off the line at the Nissan Motor Manufacturing Corp. USA plant in Smyrna in 1983. Fifth- and sixth-generation pickups were built there until the first Nissan Frontier (seventh generation) rolled off the line in 1997 as a 1998 model and the million-truck ticker started its count.

Nissan has assembled more than 2 million small pickups in the U.S. since 1983.

Strong sales headwinds have challenged the Frontier in recent years. The current generation debuted almost seven years ago in 2004, as a 2005 model. In 2010, only 40,427 Frontiers were sold compared with the sixth-generation Nissan "Hardbody" pickup that sold more than 100,000 units in 1987.

We look forward to the next million Frontier pickups and an all-new Frontier coming in the next few years.


Outside the US/Canada Nissan's "midsize" Pickups are getting larger, similar to Toyota's Hilux and the new Ford Ranger.

So Nissan/Datsun:

First to offer 1/2 ton compact truck
First to offer long bed
First to ofeer (Extended) King cab

Seems to me that Nissan deserves some credit here!
They are also the First to offer a 1/2 ton truck with a crew cab and a (long) 7 foot bed! Way better then all those stupid crew cab 4'-5' bed's driving around!

Lets hope the next generation is closer to the GMT355 in size/weight. The current Nissan is simply overweight, probably a result of platform sharing with the Titan. I would really like to see <4000# for CC4x4s in this segment. Lots of High strength steel and a turbo 4 cyl. a 7speed DSG with a creeper 1st/Rev. would be swell, but I'll settle for a 6speed auto.
@woopud- I had a LB S-10. It could fit a lot of stuff, but ultimately, those trucks are no longer available here, because not enough people wanted them.

@ Mike Levine. Would it be possible to have a story on one of those first datsuns? Every so often you'll have a story about a classic truck that you come across, a strory on one Of the first datsuns would be quite interesting.

Datsun got the formula right for compact/mid-size pickups. They need serious help in the full-size category. Perhaps a helping of Cummins might give them a boost?

From what I hear Nissan might be going back to its "compact" truck roots for the next Frontier redesign which is just the opposite of what Toyota will surely do and porkify the next Tacoma to near Tundra size , Toyota is automobilia persona non grata for me .

In high school, my Dad had a 1978 Datsun single cab, and that truck was unstoppable! It never broke down, had over 150,000 miles on it, and was so simple to maintain. I remember getting it to 95 mph and feeling like it was about to get off the ground because it was so light.

In Australia, Nissan sells the Navara (Frontier) with a 3.0L V6 diesel, and 7 speed automatic. The STX-550 diesel puts out 230 HP and 405 lb-ft @ 1750 rpm. The problem with it is it costs $65,000!!! That's more than the price than what you pay in the US for a GMC Sierra Denali HD Duramax, F-350 King Ranch Powerstroke, or Ram 3500 Mega Cab Laramie Longhorn. The Ranger with its I-5 diesel is expected to be much better priced than the Navara V6 diesel.

I think it's going to be hard for anyone to bad mouth Datsun. They introduced some of the longest lasting trucks out there. Our 1978 Datsun, although painted turd brown, lasted forever with just basic maintenance and it took a worse beating than our Ford at the time, which succumbed to with cracked block. (1987)

sadly there are NO datsun anything left in the rust belt, or coastlines, the worm was well fed though!

Its a wonderful platform and stays the same size (contrary to the first poster's statement) no matter where you go, the only thing that changes is the name and engine choices.

Here in the US I am turing my 4-banger into a multipurpose (desert, stage, hill) race vehicle based on the mid 80's Roger Mears factory team.

See here:

1959 = 37-horsepower four-cylinder engine. Times have changed. We bitch and moan about anything under 350 hp.
Congratulations Nissan/Datsun.

@dan spalinger Outside NA, , Nissan has to keep up with ballooning sizes of the Hilux , Ford Ranger, Triton etc. Even the newly imported Chinese pickups are largish. What Nissan US is going to do is dependent on where the US market is going, They have developed US specific Vans and pickups prior

@dan spalinger should add payloads are a lot more for the non NA Navara's than the Frontier. 900lb to 1500lbs for US Specific Frontier. 776 kg to 1207 kg(1700lb to 2,600lb). Agree with you as regards their desirability. 2nd best selling pickup in Australia, Hilux is No.1

Would buy an original small size nissan truck in a heartbeat.
If it had a 2.4 l diesel and got 30+MPG and could pull 5,000 lbs
that would make it a best selling truck.
My old Z powered nissan truck was bullet proof. After 150,000
miles, the only thing that stopped it was a head on crash when
a friend borrowed it.

A lady in a Nissan Frontier,cut me off last week when I was in my 68 Charger R/T !! She then only went 25 mph in a 55 zone !! I followed her for awhile,didnt do any road rage,gave her the benefit of just being a bad woman driver, thought she would step on it,but NO !!She barely pressed the go pedal ! I down shifted,went sideways with my big 440 and blew past her !! She then honked and flashed her lights at me ! I gave her hell at the next light !! Dumb broad !

I remember a buddy had a late 70's datsun truck in high school delivering pizza's,got about 20 mpg,had a blazing 0-60 mph in 26 seconds,with power shifting LOL !! Those things didnt handle and were extremely,extrememly slow !

A friend in high School had a 1983 or 1984 Nissan King Cab 4X4 5-spd. I raced him a few times with my parent's 1984 Toyota Van 5-spd. I whooped him every time. He had to replace his electronically controlled carburetor about three times within the 175,000 miles he put on it. He got smart in 1997, and traded it for a brand new Dodge Dakota Club Cab 5.2L 4X4.


They'll probably be the first to introduce a diesel half-ton to the U.S. market too.

I'd like a little bigger Frontier myself, I can't see it much smaller then then it is, the back seat is cramped and the shorty bed is small, I'd like to see Nissan offer something in between a Frontier and a Titan, with a Direct injected V6, 6 or 7 speed tranny, keep it body on frame but offer independent rear.

The heaviest Navara here has a 4,700lb kerb weight. The Frontier is 4,200lb, The Titan 5,200lb. It the Navara has a 7 speed transmission 3 Litre diesel.

@Robert Ryan- balloning? The Navara and the Hilux are all but identical in size, with the Toyota having a shorter WB. The Triton is the smallest of the bunch.
Wingle CL- 5.35 x 1.88 x 1.85 meters
Taco- 5.29 x 1.89 x 1.78 m; 3.24/3.57m wb; 1875 kg
Hilux- 5.25 x 1.84 x 1.81 m; 3.09m wb; 1735/1870 kg
Frontier- 5.20 x 1.85 x 1.78 m; 3.19/3.55m wb; 2003 kg
Navara- 5.23 x 1.85 x 1.78 m; 3.20m wb; 1977/2143 kg
Triton- 5.21/5.39 x 1.80 x 1.78 m; 3.00m wb; 1916/1992 kg
T6 Ranger- no specs available, if you have some, do share.

@a different Luke - Good or bad, GM built 1/2Ton diesels for over 20 years.

Congrats to Nissan on a fantastic truck! Hope the next one they build is even better!!

@Mr Knowitall. My comments relate to the "small Datsun pickup" comments. That may be produced for the NA Market. That is not on the agenda here.
Still all the Asian Pickups are roughly the same size as the Hilux. I expect the Hilux to grow to Triton and Navara weights. The new Ford Ranger will be something similar given its stated 3,300lb payload and 7,300lb towing .That is what I meant as" ballooning"

"sadly there are NO datsun anything left in the rust belt, or coastlines, the worm was well fed though!"

Posted by: Sandman4X4 | Jun 6, 2011 12:13:29 PM

The Japanese trucks of the 70`s and 80`s didn`t last long in the northern states where road salt was used.

@different Luke, Mr. Knowitall is correct, GM produced 1/2 ton trucks using diesel engines for a long time. Ford tried it with V6 turbo diesel's for a short stint in the mid 90's. I don't know of production Dodge trucks that used a diesel in the half ton, but the 12V Cummins is the biggest diesel engine sold for engine swaps. i would dare to say that many of them are making there way into 1/2 tons. Toyota and Nissan have both been making diesel's for decades, just not for the US market. I don't know why we don't accept diesel as the fuel of the future, it is way easier to produce than ethanol, or electricity, and we already have all the technology to make to useful.....maybe one day these government figures will get their head out of their hind quarters and thes tree huggers will actually get there facts right and we can work together to continue the use of deisel in this country. VW has it down to a T......if they only could make a decent mid size truck!

This means a lot of replaced radiators and toasted transmissions.

Thanks, I'm going to have nightmares tonight.

Thanks, I'm going to have nightmares tonight.

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