Truck Rewind: Nissan Alpha-T Concept: Foretelling the Future of Utilitarian Tailgates?

The Nissan Alpha-T concept was, and still is, one of the most polarizing concept trucks out there. Debuting at the 2001 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), it was highly influential in the styling of the lauded 1st generation Nissan Titan. Carlos Ghosn, who is Chairman of the Board of Nissan Motor Co., Ltd, (back then, he was the brand-new CEO) used the concept to announce that Nissan will build a full-size truck for the North American market.

Unlike the current generation Nissan Titan, this Nissan Alpha-T concept (and the subsequent 1st generation Titan) were completely original, breaking new ground in design and utility.

Two features that truly stand out for us are the sliding bed floor and the unfolding tailgate. While it makes sense to hold off on something like a sliding bed (could you imagine items getting stuck underneath?) the tailgate is truly intriguing. Folding all the way to the ground, with a step section in between, the idea is awesome. In fact, we uncovered a story about Chevrolet/GM issuing a patent for a similar tailgate design. You can read about that unique tailgate design (here).

Nissan Alpha-T Concept’s power came from a 300 horsepower 4.5 litre V8 connected to a 4-speed automatic transmission and a beefy 4-wheel drive system. The interior design was, at the time, utilitarian and fresh. Saddleback leather covered seats fold for maximum space and utility. There’s lots of brushed aluminum inside that many wish made it to production.

While the design of the 1st generation Nissan Titan began under Diane Allen (with Giovanny Arroba’s exterior design), finding the original designer of the Nissan Alpha-T concept is difficult. We can say, with great certainty, that the Nissan Titan owes a lot to the forward thinking displayed on the Nissan Alpha-T concept. If you look at many other concept trucks from the early to mid 2000’s, the look Nissan established with the Alpha-T concept was undoubtedly an inspiration.

Easily amused by anything with four wheels, Nathan Adlen reviews vehicles from the cheapest to the most prestigious. Wrecking yards, dealer lots, garages, racetracks, professional automotive testing and automotive journalism - Nathan has experienced a wide range of the automotive spectrum. Brought up in the California car culture and educated in theater, childhood education, film, journalism and history, Nathan now lives with his family in Denver, CO. His words, good humor and video are enjoyed worldwide.