This is an installment in a series of posts looking back on show cars that we feel deserved a little more attention than they got. If you have a suggestion for a Forgotten Concept topic, please shoot us a line or leave a comment below.
First Seen: 2001 Detroit Auto Show
Description: Full-size pickup truck
Sales Pitch: “Nissan is serious about entering the full-size truck market in a big way.”
First seen at the 2001 Detroit Auto Show, the Nissan Alpha-T served to broadcast the Japanese automaker’s intentions to enter the North American large pickup-truck market–which it soon did, with the introduction of the Nissan Titan for the 2004 model year. The angular concept truck featured a crew-cab design and V8 power–traits popular with pickup shoppers then and now. Exterior features included a power-extending bed floor and a novel articulating tailgate design which acted as a step when fully deployed.
The Alpha-T’s rear doors opened “suicide” style, allowing for easy ingress to the four-place seating. The orange-leather-lined cabin featured suede and brushed-aluminum accents. Power came from a 300-horsepower 4.5-liter V8 mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission.
It took moxie for Nissan to enter the big-truck market when it did, especially since Toyota–having rolled out its full-size Tundra in 2000–was already scaling back its pickup ambitions. But for all of the Alpha-T’s bold, futuristic angularity, the production 2004 Nissan Titan that followed was depressingly conventional.
The first-generation Titan ran through the 2015 model year, and a redesigned second-generation model debuted for the 2016 model year. Despite the addition of a heavier-duty “XD” version with an available Cummins turbodiesel engine, the second-gen Titan didn’t make significant inroads in the domestic full-size-pickup market.
With the Titan’s future currently in question, looking back on this concept seems especially poignant. The Alpha-T may forever serve as a reminder that it takes more than moxie to sell big pickups in the United States.