With smaller trucks making a comeback, could Nissan be considering something more compact for truck fans once again?
Nissan released some insider information relating to one of its strangest concepts, the curious Gobi truck that was revealed at the 1990 North American International Auto Show. The Gobi was named after a vast desert land located in China, but the brand opted to reveal the car in the dead of winter in the Midwest.
The design team in charge of putting this concept together consisted of Jerry Hirshberg, Bruce Campbell, and Diane Allen who were members of Nissan Design International, known today as Nissan Design America. The Gobi was designed to be an adventurous compact two-door truck with soft and functional design lines, but looking at it today, we're not surprised that it didn't reach production.
The cabin took a unique direction of being rounded which was a contrast to what the brand was putting out during this era. You may notice that its greenhouse draws strong inspiration from light helicopter cockpits of the 90s. Despite being a truck, the design team opted to give the Gobi low-sided bed walls that could be folded down and a decreased ride height so that cargo loading could be an easy task. The body is painted in Royal Blue which is contrasted by teal accents.
The asymmetrical interior is penned to be driver-focused as the instrument cluster is slanted in an upward direction for better visibility. The electrically adjustable driver's seat employs a contour bucket design while the passenger seat is crafted to maximize comfort.
Being a truck, the cockpit also features a considerable amount of storage compartments but the ace up its sleeve is the glovebox that can be removed and used as a backpack when you're on the go. Sadly, this quirky truck never made it to the production line, but Nissan still recognizes it as a member of its truck family spanning six decades.
Nissan's truck presence in the USA was only launched in 1983 with the arrival of the single-cab Datsun 720. This is considered to be the spiritual ancestor of the current Nissan Frontier which represents 40 years of American-designed and built trucks. While demand is still fairly high for these Nissan trucks, there does appear to be some plan to scale down its utility offerings in the future.
The Gobi was never meant to be a production vehicle, but rather a project to showcase future design direction and how far the team could stretch their imagination and apply it to a real-world creation. After it toured various auto shows in 1990, the concept car was shelved. It now sits in the brand's Nissan Heritage Collection located at the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, Tennessee alongside other unique creations from the American arm of the Japanese company. This display can be viewed via a private tour only.
Thankfully, this special little truck from Nissan is being treated better than another two concepts that were sadly sent to the crusher at the beginning of the year. Considering how the compact truck segment is growing in the USA with models like the Hyundai Santa Cruz and Ford Maverick, there is also some justification for Nissan to revive the idea as a possible production model.