Words & Photos: Nissan Australia
Nissan’s legendary Patrol is celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2021. That’s seven decades of exploring some of the world’s most hard-to-reach places with comfort, capability and style.
To celebrate this momentous occasion, Nissan Australia have reached out to Patrol owners from around Australia, finding those who are doing incredible things with their vehicles.
Nissan calls them ‘Patrol Legends,’ and they don’t come much more legendary than Noel Maynard from Proserpine, between Bowen and Mackay in Queensland.
A Million Good Reasons
Noel has more reason than most to be happy with his Patrol, as he has clocked over a million kilometres in the vehicle, which would be enough to drive to the moon and back, with about 250,000kms to spare.
Noel’s Patrol shows no signs of slowing down, although the official logging of further kilometres might prove a challenge.
“[The odometer] didn’t quite make the million,” he says. “It got to 999,999kms, but it won’t click over!”
Noel purchased his Series IV GU Patrol in 2005, and in those early years, the kilometres came slowly. It wasn’t until he began using his vehicle as a Wide Load Pilot Escort — the vehicles that lead and follow wide-load trucks on Australia’s highways — that the numbers really started soaring.
“I’m a Pilot Escort, which means I’m either behind or out front of oversized loads,” Noel explains. “We’re the safety precaution to let other road users know that there’s an over-dimension vehicle of some description coming towards them.”
Slow Build Up and Long Journeys
Noel bought the Patrol featured, a 4.2 turbodiesel DX cab chassis, new in 2005, and slowly built up the kilometres in the first decade of ownership: “By 2013, I had roughly 180,000kms on it. But from then to now, I’ve put another 850,000kms on.”
If you’re the type of person who gets antsy going on any car journey that lasts longer than three or four hours, spare a thought for Noel, who’s driven further - and slower - than most people ever will.
“I’ve done a job from Kalkallo, just on the northern side of Melbourne, through to Cairns [2775km] - that was one job,” he says.
“Doing the work I’m doing, I clock up anywhere between 100,000 to 130,000 kilometres a year. It doesn’t take long to clock ‘em up!”
In all the time that Noel’s been on those important – and long! - Pilot Escort jobs, the Patrol’s never broken down: “(When) you’re on a schedule, a reliable vehicle is everything.”
Over the years, Noel’s accessorised his Patrol with an aftermarket bullbar, winch, driving lights, brush rails, side mirror extenders, wheels and tyres, as well as a custom tray and service body. There’s also the kit needed for Pilot Escort work, like beacons, communications equipment (to keep in touch with the other pilot vehicles) and identifying signage.
A Strong Performer
Still going strong after 16 years, Noel’s Patrol is a true testament to the vehicle’s incredible staying power. Noel says that putting his faith in the Patrol was an easy choice, especially since it wasn’t his first time behind the wheel of one.
He also never misses a service, whether it’s the minor maintenance he carries out himself at home, or one of his regular visits to the service department at Rod Grittner Nissan in Proserpine.
“I had a Nissan Patrol before this one, and I put 300,000 kilometres on it,” says Noel. “You go back to something that you know you can trust.
“A reliable vehicle is everything. As I’ve said to a lot of people now, if I’m not there, you better send a search party, because something’s wrong with me!
“The Nissan Patrol is it for me. I’ve bought a second one now so I can take this one off the road at some point in the future - not because it has broken down, just because of the kilometres, so I can do the maintenance on it.”
Life on the Road
For a man who has seen more of Australia, and knows more about life on the road, than just about anyone, Noel is adamant he’s still happiest when taking his Patrol out for another long-distance adventure.
“People ask ‘Don’t you get sick of driving?’, but it’s all I’ve done for years now,” he says.
“I’d rather be out on the road looking through a windscreen than sitting inside an office looking at four walls.
“You’ve got to love driving!”