The Nissan Judo concept debuted at the 1987 Tokyo Motor show; a full two years before the Toyota RAV4 concept debuted.
People tend to forget how adventurous Nissan used to be, and the 1987 Nissan Judo concept is a prime example. It’s entirely possible that the idea for the RAV4 (one of Toyota’s best-selling vehicles) came from the 1987 Nissan Judo concept. Up until that point, a crossover was not a “thing.” This little concept represented off-road-minded thinking, wrapped in a car-like package – way before the RAV4 and CR-V.
The Nissan Judo was 157-inches long, 66-inches wide, and 62-inches tall, dimensions that are a few less than the first-generation Toyota RAV4 two-door. This concept used Nissan’s Advanced Total Traction Engineering System for All-Terrain (ATTESA) all-wheel-drive system. Basically, a full-time AWD using viscous coupling permanently feeding the rear axle torque. Updated versions of this system were used on rally cars and the Nissan Skyline of that era.
The Judo used a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that made 210 horsepower, making 195 lbs-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission was connected to the ATTESA system. The whole mechanical system was automatic with no center transfer case or locker. If you examine the wheels, you’ll see a six-lug setup. That comes from their pickup trucks, which is to say, the Judo has some Hardbody/Pathfinder axles.
The Nissan Judo concept transformed
The Judo’s top slides back too. This does two things: it opens the roof like a T-top/Targa-top, and it makes room for an additional two passengers. There is a tiny bench seat back there. Perhaps one could say, this vehicle may have influenced the successful Toyota RAV4, and the unsuccessful, two-passenger Suzuki X-90.
Aside from its burly rally car stance, the Nissan Judo had a slick packaging trick or two up its sleeve. Check out that spare tire. This setup is for quick tire changes on the trail. It lowered with a pully, and there was a double storage compartment just north of the spare tire location. There was also a winch hidden behind the front bumper – which is mighty cool.
This is one of those concepts that has me asking, “What if?” Would you drive one of these? I know I would!
Speaking of old Nissan’s off-road…