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70 years of the Nissan Patrol: Celebrating a legacy of power and luxury

With decades of global expertise, Nissan boasts a growing number of legendary nameplates. Whether the iconic GT-R, world-famous Z or pioneering LEAF, Nissan models have earned a special place in the automotive world.

This year, we celebrate the 70th anniversary of Nissan’s longest-running nameplate – the all-conquering Patrol.

The Patrol has remained one of the world’s most loved and respected SUVs, having earned its reputation in the scorching heat of deserts, rugged mountain slopes, and modern city streets – a genuine hero of all terrains. This four-wheel drive vehicle has also amassed an enviable trophy cabinet including three Guinness World Records in addition to becoming the first car to climb Japan’s revered Mount Fuji, a 2500-meter ascent.

However, a key aspect of bringing this legacy to life are the many Patrol drivers and owners. For 70 years, the Nissan Patrol has been at the center of families and communities, defined by its strength and capability, combined with legendary heritage that exemplifies Nissan’s corporate purpose of enriching peoples’ lives.

But what makes this car so iconic? Let’s take a closer look.

1951 – 1960 FIRST GENERATION – Birth of a Legend

Engine: 3.7-litre in-line six-cylinder petrol

Transmission: Four-speed Manual

The story of the Patrol began in 1951, when post-war car production in Japan had only recently restarted, and the nation needed reliable off-road performance from a utility vehicle. Very early in its history, the original Patrol – called the 4W Series and built in Hiratsuka – demonstrated its unique capabilities. It became the first car to climb Japan’s revered Mount Fuji, a 2500-meter ascent that helped its status to grow.

This model was updated in 1955 with the introduction of the 4W61, but it wasn’t until the release of the 4W65/4W66 variants in 1958 that the vehicle first sported the Patrol badges on its bonnet.

Soon the Patrol’s rugged 4×4 “Go Anywhere” capabilities became a favorite of both professional and recreational drivers, both in Japan and abroad, after Nissan began exporting it for the first time in the early sixties.

1959 – 1980 SECOND GENERATION – Conquering the world

Engine: 4.0-litre in-line six-cylinder petrol
Transmission: Three-speed manual

Steadily, the Patrol began conquering the world. The 60 Series, the consumer-oriented second-generation that lasted for 20 years, successfully took on every type of harsh environment imaginable. Australia played a significant role in its heritage, becoming one of the first international markets to sell the rugged off-roader outside of Japan from 1961, with the introduction of the second-generation G60 Datsun Patrol.

One year later, a short-wheelbase G60 Patrol was the first motorized vehicle to cross the nation’s grueling Simpson Desert when geologist Reg Sprigg, his wife Griselda, and children Marg and Doug, charted a path over more than 1100 sand dunes from the Northern Territory to Queensland in 12 days.

In the Middle East, the first Patrol arrived in Kuwait in 1957, and since then has been a cut above the rest – combining luxury and advanced technology with unmatched muscle power and endurance. For Patrol drivers, owning a Patrol offered an unparalleled experience and quickly become a favourite across the Gulf, with royalty as well as celebrities.

In the US, the second-generation models were delivered in 1961. The consumer model that had earned its reputation as the Japanese off-roader to contend with took on the world’s greatest mobility challenges and soon became known as the “King of the Off-Road.”

The Patrol was the first ever model to be sold as a ‘Nissan’ in the United States, winning a lot of admiration from American drivers throughout the sixties, including no less than ‘King of the Cowboys’ Roy Rogers himself, who in 1967 was what we would call a ‘brand ambassador’ today.

In India, in the early 60s, the Indian army obtained a license from Nissan to manufacture the Jonga (patrol 60) in Jabalpur. The Jonga was used by the Indian army, with the name serving as an acronym for ‘Jabalpur Ordnance and Guncarriage Assembly’. Later, in 1996, the SUV was made available to the public with a change in engine.

1980 – 1987 THIRD GENERATION – A car for everyone

Engines: 2.8-litre in-line six-cylinder petrol, 3.3-litre in-line six-cylinder diesel, 3.3-litre in-line six-cylinder turbo diesel, 4.0-litre in-line six-cylinder petrol
Transmissions: Four-speed manual, Three-speed automatic

The third generation, known as the 160, arrived in 1980. This iteration became a watershed moment for the nameplate as the Patrol expanded its appeal from being an industry workhorse to being a preferred choice for families and on-road motorists. With a five-door layout, seating for seven people and the addition of air-conditioning, the car became more popular among the masses, particularly in desert and hot climates.

Nissan marketed the 160 Series and later models as the ‘Safari’ in some markets such as Japan and South Africa, and as the Patrol in others. The 160 Series represented the official introduction of the Patrol into the South African market, with a pick-up version and a long wheelbase wagon featuring horizontally split tail gates.

In 1983, the 160 Series became the first Nissan made in Europe (in Nissan’s Barcelona plant) and, in 1987, the Nissan Patrol Fanta Limon became the first diesel vehicle to ever finish the Paris-Dakar in the Top 10. By 1988, the Patrol held 50% of the Spanish SUV market.

1987 – 1997 FOURTH GENERATION – Comfort and Performance

Engine: 2.8-litre in-line six-cylinder turbo diesel, 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder petrol, 4.2-litre in-line six-cylinder petrol, 4.2-litre in-line six-cylinder diesel
Transmission: Five-speed manual, four-speed automatic

The fourth-generation Nissan Patrol, also known as the Y60, was first produced in 1987. It was radically different from its predecessors as it was the first Patrol to be equipped with innovative all-around coil spring suspension (a feature only found on premium models at the time), power steering, and synchromesh in reverse gear.

It was not only a great leap forward in terms of technical sophistication, but it featured enhanced levels of comfort that appealed greatly to drivers.

1997 – 2010 FIFTH GENERATION – Setting the benchmark for reliability

Engines: 2.8-litre in-line six-cylinder turbo diesel, 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel, 4.2-litre in-line six-cylinder turbo diesel, 4.8-litre in-line six-cylinder petrol
Transmission: Five-speed manual, Five-speed automatic

In December 1997, the fifth generation Patrol (Y61) appeared, bringing the vehicle into the modern age of motoring.

Reflecting the evolving expectations of buyers, owners now demanded even greater levels of comfort and off-road performance. The new Patrol catered to this, offering enhanced styling and luxury, as well as increased levels of technical sophistication.

The Y61 came with a smoother, more rounded body shape and a chunkier “v” grille, as well as seven-seat options and a pickup variant in some markets. The interior was given a refresh too, with new seats, trim, console and new door handles. Satellite navigation and a reversing camera were also offered.

In 2016, the Y61 was brought back exclusively to the Middle East market, and launched as the Patrol Super Safari, catering specifically to off-roading fans in the region.

2010 – Present SIXTH GENERATION – Record-breaking icon

Engine: 5.6-litre V8 petrol

Transmission: Seven-speed automatic

Engine: 4.0-litre V6 petrol

Transmission: Seven-speed automatic

The all-new, sixth generation, Y62 series Nissan Patrol was launched on 13 February 2010 at a VIP event in Abu Dhabi, reflecting the Patrol’s special relationship with customers in the Middle East.

Sporting firsts like Nissan’s ALL MODE 4×4, Hill Descent Control and Hill Start Assist, Y62 is the most sophisticated Patrol to date, showing the accelerating importance of technology in today’s automotive world.

Since its introduction, this model has claimed three Guinness records – the first in 2013 when it towed the world’s heaviest aircraft, a 170-ton Ilyushin-76 cargo plane, for over 50 meters at the Sharjah International Airport in the United Arab Emirates. In 2015, it set another Guinness World Record for the fastest ascent of a 100-metre sand dune when it took just 4.9 seconds to climb the famous Wadi-Rum dune in Jordan. And, in 2018, a group of 180 Nissan Patrols set a new record for the largest synchronized car dance in Dubai when two concentric lines of cars were driven in the opposite direction to create the figure of a flying falcon.

In 2016, Nissan donated a Patrol to the Pilansberg National Park’s rhino protection unit to help fight in the battle against illegal poaching of the park’s black and white rhino population.

The Y62 was also the first Nissan model to sport a NISMO version, launched exclusively to the Middle East. This race-inspired model underlines Nissan’s heritage as a motorsport brand and the region’s love for high-performance vehicles, combining striking exteriors with the refinement of a luxury car and the exhilarating performance of a sports car. Each Patrol NISMO is tuned to flawlessness by Nissan’s legendary Takumi craftsmen team, a team of four master engine builders allowed to hand-build the Nissan GT-R engines at Nissan’s Yokohama engine plant, resulting in a concentrated 428hp and a torque of 560NM.

In 2019, a facelifted version of the Y62 made its grand debut in Abu Dhabi. Despite being a name synonymous with ruggedness, the Patrol transformed itself with a radical new design direction and with significantly enhanced first-class levels of comfort for the whole family heightened luxury, a roomier cabin and a quieter ride combined to achieve this goal, while maintaining its superior off-road heritage and commanding road presence. Retaining its much loved, go anywhere persona, the latest model also features an extensive suite of advanced safety and security systems, part of the Nissan Intelligent Mobility platform.

Now in 2021, Patrol is still going strong 70 years after the first model rolled off the production line in Hiratsuka, Japan. Combining the tried and trusted with the new, the hero of all terrain embodies power and prestige and delivers without compromise. The most powerful in its class, the Patrol remains an icon poised to conquer the years ahead.

Although the car has changed a great deal through the decades in terms of appearance, performance, role and technology, the nameplate itself has remained an unchanging testament to Nissan engineering and to enriching the lives of its owners.

The Patrol is distinguished by its drivers’ diverse and unique experiences, each of whom has their own story to tell. This year, as the Patrol celebrates its 70th anniversary, we honor this enduring human connection that embodies the Patrol’s true and lasting legacy.