The Pathfinder Door Handle

Updated: Feb 11, 2021

In 1989 Nissan replaced its hot selling, two-door Pathfinder Hardbody with a four-door version. The reason was that a hike to import tariffs imposed on two-door trucks to give American manufacturers a leg up with their Rangers, S10s, et al, adversely affected Nissan's prospects in the US. “Leveling the playing field,” it was called. The loophole for Nissan was that four-door trucks were considered cars and thus exempt from the higher tariff. The problem for Nissan was that nobody wanted to be seen driving a four-door anything back then. Decidedly uncool.

So Nissan conjured up a very convincing trompe l’oeil by placing a black rear door handle vertically in the black C pillar, rendering it virtually invisible. At a glance the four-door Pathfinder looked exactly like the previous two-door. Problem solved.

The funny part is that over time four-door vehicles, especially trucks, became more popular than two-doors, yet Nissan nevertheless persisted with the Pathfinder’s vertical rear door handle. No longer was it hidden but it was instead prominently displayed, with the company extolling its fictitious ergonomic origins. And applying it to their other SUV, the Xterra.

The most recent Pathfinder has finally abandoned the ruse and sports conventionally horizontal door handles fore and aft.

You won’t find any mention of the above on Wikipedia. It’s this kind of little-known true fact that I intend to randomly disseminate on this little project of mine. Stay tuned. This is from an undeveloped WordPress blog that I created years ago and never did anything with:

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