The Carchive: The third-generation Nissan Patrol

After the Nissan Prairie a fortnight back, and the Citroen Dyane last week, we’re still in Utility Mode here at The Carchive. We’re looking at Datsun / Nissan’s entry to the SUV fray – in the early days of that phrase having traction, so to speak.
It’s fair to say that the Datsun Patrol rather lived in the shadow of the Toyota Landcruiser – the latter was famous as the darling of the Australian Outback, even though the Patrol was no stranger to equally dusty climes and certainly substantially more dependable than, oh I don’t know, a Land Rover or something.

“Datsun Patrols are go anywhere, all-purpose 4-wheel drive vehicles with a high standard of comfort and equipment – and the Datsun reputation for reliability”
The early 1980s were a time when there really wasn’t such a thing as a ‘luxury SUV’. Utility was king, and even the Range Rover had some of the ‘hose clean’ attributes that would soon be lost from such vehicles forever. The Patrol even had bare painted metal surfaces inside. It was clearly a car designed with purpose in mind, and was pretty much bereft of any interior or exterior tinsel. Although certain local enforcement agencies must have enjoyed the cost saving that “PATROL” being pre-printed on the rocker panels brought.
Datsun still considered the Patrol to be an upmarket product, though, as ‘luxury equipment levels including tinted glass and push-button radio’ implies.

“The Patrol Hardtop is a 2-door, 5-seater short-wheelbase vehicle with easy to clean vinyl covered seats and flooring. The Patrol Estate is a 4-door, 7-seater long wheelbase version with the added luxury of cloth seats and floor carpets”
Now you’re talking! You also got a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearknob, integral head restraints, a lockable glovebox and centre console oddments box, along with a smattering of lights to tell you when four-wheel drive was engaged, and keep an eye on the handbrake and charging system.
What really, mattered, though, was to be found beneath the surface.

You got a choice of two six-cylinder engines, a 2.8-litre petrol and a 3.3-litre diesel, of 120 and 95bhp respectively. Nothing high tech, but unburstable, reliable slugging power, just the kind of thing you wanted when clambering over rocky obstacles such as rocks and other obstacles. Rear-wheel drive was the default, with the front wheels called forth when the terrain got lumpy, and there were high and low ratios to choose from.
The chassis could barely be more straightforward, with Land Rover-style live axles with semi-elliptic leaf springs and telescopic shock absorbers. Nice and simple, to allow for field-expedient fixes if the going got too tough.
As the Patrol’s life went on, it got rather more luxurious – as the market dictated. It never really got a great deal more sophisticated, though, and didn’t really see much of an update after the fifth-generation model came out in 1998. It exists in production mainly for African states, to whose roads the Patrol is ideally suited.
(All images are of original manufacturer publicity material, photographed by me. Copyright remains property of Datsun, who now offer the namby-pamby Qashqai and X-Trail in Europe, both of whose options lists conspicuously lack a hose-clean interior choice)

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10 responses to “The Carchive: The third-generation Nissan Patrol”

  1. outback_ute Avatar

    One of our Scout leaders had one of the SWB hardtops, and it was tough as nails, almost a fast road-going tractor.
    The next generation had coil springs which improved both comfort and off-road abilities, as well as 4.2-L petrol and diesel engines, and really kicked on the 4×4 boom.

    1. Troggy Avatar

      The 4.2 engined models had one issue – they overheated big-time on long uphill slopes. Quite a few radio sites around QLD had notes to the effect that only a Landcruiser would make it to the top of the hill. Or you could take a Patrol if you liked, but you had to go up the hill backwards…
      It may sound like a one off issue, most likely a bubble of air in the coolant, but it happened to so many of them that it seemed to be a problem with that engine.

  2. Pete Avatar

    I owned two of those over the years, drives like a piece of farm equipment, but will go everywhere without ever breaking down.

  3. Maymar Avatar
    Let’s not forget, the Patrol still also exists as the Infiniti QX80, which is simultaneously hideous, impressive, and luxurious.
    I also learned that, as the Patrol, a manual is still available. I sort of want a QX80 with the stick, for the lulz. Not sure the hose-out interior would fly though. I’d also settle for an Armada with the plaid interior from the brochure.

    1. outback_ute Avatar

      I didn’t know they make a manual (not sold or mentioned here in Australia), but what they really need is a diesel.

    2. boxdin Avatar

      Yes the Armada represents the worst of japanese styling.

  4. SlowJoeCrow Avatar

    I can see where the Isuzu Trooper and Daihatsu Rocky borrowed some design language. The Patrol only appeared in the US in its first generation which looked like a slightly boxier Land Cruiser FJ40. The 3.3 diesel did show up briefly as power for the International Harvester Scout II.

    1. outback_ute Avatar

      Ok, the 60 series, which came in a surprising number of variants of wheelbase and body style. They had a major drawback of a 3-speed gearbox and were very low-geared which limited the top speed.