Ever wanted to help pick the models who appear in the annual Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue? Nissan is going to grant that wish, though maybe not in the direct, er, hands-on fashion you might have imagined.

With the Super Bowl in our rear view mirror and March Madness on the horizon ahead, the sports-related event of the month is the release of SI’s anticipated swimsuit issue, and Nissan is participating. We know the fashion models selected by SI’s editors are deserving, but gosh, aren’t there a lot of other deserving models out there who could do the job as well?

That’s Nissan’s question, and to help answer it, the company rounded up eight globe-trotting professional models who aren’t in the 2011 edition of the magazine and did a photo shoot with SI lensman Walter Iooss, Jr. The models appear in a two-page spread Nissan bought in the current swimsuit issue, which directs readers to the website www.si.com/modelsearch, where they can pick their favorite. The magazine also carries a Microsoft TagReader icon which, when scanned by a smartphone, relays video of the models to the reader’s phone.

The winning model is ensured a spot as one of the swimsuit models featured in the 2012 issue next year. The site includes biographical information about each of the models, photos from the shoots and a brief video introducing each one.

Voting continues through March 9th.

Nissan, not wanting to be overlooked, reminds readers of the advantages of one of its own models, the Juke, by comparing it to some of the contestants in attributes such as agility, acceleration, aerodynamics, and curb appeal. Decide for yourself, if you can. Suddenly that dream SI job looks tougher than we thought!

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Dan Carney is a veteran auto industry observer who has written for MSNBC.com, Motor Trend, AutoWeek, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, Better Homes and Gardens and other publications. He has authored two books, "Dodge Viper" and "Honda S2000" and is a juror for the North American Car of the Year award. Carney covers the industry from the increasingly strategic location of Washington, D.C.

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