By Isaac Bober via PracticalMotoring.com.au
THE SECOND WORLD WAR had ravaged Japan, leaving many of its roads and towns in ruin. Like many other countries at the time, Japan turned to its automotive industry - as small as it was - to get the country moving.
It asked the likes of Toyota and Nissan to create a utility vehicle in the same vein as the Jeep.
The Nissan 4W60 was born - 1951-1960
Nissan’s response was the 4W Series which, like all 4x4s at the time, was slow, primitive and nothing more than a small step ahead of a tractor. Toyota won the contract, but that didn't stop Nissan. The company thought it had a winner on its hands and pushed on, rolling out the first production 4W in September, 1951. The '4W' Series lasted until 1960 and was exported to Russia and South America.
The first-generation 4W60 ran a 3.7-litre NAK six-cylinder producing 55kW, mated to a four-speed manual and four-wheel drive. The 4W60 soldiered on until 1955 when the 4W61 came into production.
The 4W61 introduced a new engine, a 3.7-litre Nissan NB six that made 68kW (it would later be replaced by a 78kW 4.0-litre Nissan NC engine). Other changes for the 4W61 included a one-piece windscreen, chrome strips on the bonnet, a passenger seat that was wider than the driver’s seat and a badge on the grille that said, Nissan.
In 1958 the 4W65 arrived and copped some styling changes, including a new bonnet and front wheel arches, as well as the first appearance of 'Patrol' badges, reflecting the name Nissan were now applying to their 4x4 workhorse.
In 1959, the 4W66 arrived with a gruntier engine, the 4.0-litre Nissan P engine which thumped out 93kW. This variant was discontinued in June 1960.
The 4W66 made way for the 4W73 released in 1959. It was the most powerful Patrol at the time with a 108kW engine based on that in the 4W66. It also received upgrades to the grille, bonnet, headlights and wheelarches.
The Nissan G60 - first vehicle to cross the Simpson desert - 1960-1980
The 4W Series did what it needed to do… It paved the way for the second-generation ‘Patrol’ the G60 Series which arrived in 1960 and stayed in production until 1980. Imported to Australia, the G60 became the first vehicle to cross the Simpson Desert, driven by geologist Reg Sprigg. Taking 12 days, the crossing was only the second by a European. The first was by Captain Ted Colson and his indigenous guide, Peter Ains, and their camels in 1936.
In 1962, the Sprigg family (oh yes, it was mum, dad and two kids) averaged just 5km/h as they pioneered a track between and across the dunes, often getting ‘beached’ on giant saltbush outcrops and risking disaster as it began to smoulder under their 44 gallon (200 litre) drum of petrol.
The Sprigg family went back to the Simpson in 1967 and drove the ‘French Line’ and the Simpson Desert. It was only the third full crossing for both.
The G60 was offered in both short- and long- wheelbase set-ups. The Nissan P engine continued in the G60, and the transmission started out as a three-speed; with a two-speed transfer case and part-time four-wheel drive system. Later models saw the introduction of a four-speed transmission.
The 60 Patrol didn’t change much over the years, with the only upgrades of note being power-assisted front drum brakes and a third windscreen wiper! There was, however, a real improvement in 1980 with the G61 Patrol which was basically the 60-body sitting on MQ Patrol running gear, including a full synchro four-speed manual gearbox, improved engine and better seating.
While overlooked by the Japanese Government after WWII, the Nissan Patrol was eventually pressed into military service in 1969, when a new variant, known as the Jonga, became the light transport of choice for the Indian Army.
Third-generation Patrol, the MQ - 1980 - 1987
The third-gen Patrol saw leaf springs front and back become standard, while for the first time, Australian buyers had a choice of engines - 2.8- and 4.0-litre petrol or 3.3-litre diesel - as well as 'luxury' items like a carpeted interior and, wait for it, air-conditioning and power steering.
As soon as the MQ hit the showroom an update was released (1981). It saw several new body styles added to the Patrol line-up, as well as a new limited slip diff and optional automatic transmission.
In 1983, the MQ emerged from plastic surgery with new rectangular head lights and upgrades to the front suspension. The four-speed manual was upgraded to five speeds and the SD33 diesel engine, in Australia, was given a 12V electric system. A turbocharged diesel was also offered.
Then in 1986, the five-speed manual became standard across the range along with power steering, and the suspension was upgraded with leaf springs.
Fourth-generation Patrol, the Y60 (the mighty GQ) - 1987-1997
The GQ saw leaf springs replaced by coil springs, a redesign meant more room inside and more creature comforts, too, including a radio, clock and tachometer as standard. The GQ Y60 also saw the introduction of a five-link rear axle and rear disc brakes, while some models added a limited-slip differential, as well as vacuum operated rear differential locks. A PTO-driven winch was also offered as a cost option on some models of Patrol.
An update in 1990, saw the Patrol take the ‘luxury’ fight up to the Toyota LandCruiser with the launch of the Patrol Ti and the addition of, wait for it, chrome trim, and the more useful rear diff locks, two-way freewheeling hubs, power windows, electric mirrors, central locking and even a sunroof. Then, in 1991, the high-roofed Patrol Ti made way for a boxier looking low-roof wagon body.
The Nissan boffins were busy behind the scenes, because in 1992 a refreshed (meaning facelift) GQ Series 2 was released. Not only did this model see the introduction of a 4.2L engine with fuel injection, but the transmission and suspension were “refined”. The GQ Series 2 got bigger brakes, bigger wheels and limited-slip diffs and auto freewheeling hubs became standard across the range. One small safety update was the introduction of side intrusion bars, and to stand out from the rest of the Patrol family the Ti copped a chrome front grille.
A very, very, very minor update in 1995 saw the centre “v” in the grille made a little smaller. It was a case of, if it ain’t broke…
Fifth-generation Patrol, the Y61 (the power house GU) - 1997 to now
Between 1992 and 1996, the Patrol had only received a minor refresh, then in 1997 came the Y61 (GU) and a smoother, more rounded body shape and a chunkier “v” grille. More significantly, besides this model's longevity, was the availability of a range of engines: 4.5L petrol; 2.8L turbo-diesel; 3.0L turbo-diesel; and 4.2L turbo-diesel. There were seven-seat options, and some markets even received a pick-up version. The Patrol’s TB48DE engine could be pushed hard, with reports of some tuning the thing up to 2000hp…
The millennium bug was a major disappointment with computers everywhere clicking over from 1999 to 2000 just fine. The Patrol copped a new engine, a 3.0L four-cylinder turbo-diesel offering 116kW and 354Nm of torque. New front seats were also fitted.
A year later in 2001, the Y61 Series 3 arrived and brought with it a 4.2-litre petrol engine enlarged to 4.8 litres, now making 185kW/420Nm and mated to a five-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode. It also copped a new grille, headlights, tail lights, bumpers, side mouldings, side steps, wheels and body colours… basically, everything that you could see.
In 2004, the seven-seat Patrol copped a total refresh with every panel, besides the roof, tweaked in some way. 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.
From 2004 to 2012, the Patrol went through a further five series upgrades, although most of them were minor tweaks indeed. Probably the most significant was the standardisation of the 3.0L turbo-diesel across the range. In 2012, the Series 8 Y61 arrived sporting Nissan’s vehicle dynamics control, rear differential locks and active brake limited slip.
By now, the Y61 had been on-sale for 14 years… and would continue to sell alongside the Y62 introduced in 2013 to Australia, and for good reason… no diesel engine.
Sixth-generation Patrol, the Y62 (the luxury 4x4) - 2013 to now
Patrol owners viewed the coming of a new Patrol with excitement, but in 2013 when the petrol-only Y62 went on-sale, many owners decided to stick with their diesel Y61s. And fair enough.
But there’s no doubting the Y62 was easily the most sophisticated Patrol to date. The 5.6-litre V8 offered 298kW and 560Nm of torque with 90% of torque available from just 1600rpm. An eight-speed automatic transmission was mated to this engine.
The Y62 saw the debut of Nissan’s new ALL MODE 4x4 system which is controlled via a circular electronic switch cluster located behind the gear selector and offering modes (throttle, transmission and suspension tweaks) for: sand, rock, snow or on-road driving, activation of the rear differential lock, VDC on/off and Hill Descent Control. The ALL MODE 4X4 controller also allows the driver to select between 4H and 4L. The Y62 Patrol also featured Hill Start Assist and a helical limited slip differential.
Changes to the suspension also came with the Y62, including the arrival of Hydraulic Body Motion Control, while the four-wheel independent suspension saw hydraulic chambers included in each shock absorber to automatically control suspension action. From launch, Y62 Patrol pricing started at $82,690 for the ST-L, rising to $114,490 for the Ti-L.
Interestingly, by 2021, the Patrol's starting price had actually dropped, with the Ti from $81,160 and the Ti-L $94,115 (plus ORCs).
Patrol Points of Significance
- 1951 - 4W60 Patrol produced to help rebuild Japan.
- 1960 - G60 Patrol introduced to Australia
- 1976 - Nissan Patrol Club of NSW and ACT formed.
- 1980 - MQ Patrol released.
- 1983 - Datsun brand replaced by Nissan
- 1986 5-speed manual transmission for the MQ
- 1988 - GQ Patrol introduced, causes commotion with coil springs. Ford's Maverick, a rebadged version of the GQ, is released in the same year.
- 1994 - Coil sprung Patrol ute available.
- 1998 - GU Patrol introduced with 2.8tdi, 4.2 diesel, or 4.5l petrol engine. Ford Maverick line not continued with the GU, and no more SWBs.
- 1999 - Renault buys 36% of Nissan. Factory turbo for 4.2L turbo-diesel in wagon. Cab chassis available with 4.2 diesel, turbo or not turbo, leaf or coil rear.
- 2000 - GU II released. Popular ZD30 3.0tdi available, replacing 2.8tdi. Patrol driven to victory in the Outback Challenge for the first time.
- 2001 - GU III released with refined ZD30 engine.
- 2003 - ST-L Patrol released with standard ABS, leather and dual airbags. ST-L also available in diesel. Ti spec still only available in petrol. The 4.2 diesel gets an intercooler good for 30Nm more torque, ST gets cruise control. Ti loses rear locker, gets LSD. Automatic transmission available on DX Patrol.
- 2005 - Minor enhancements to ZD30 engine (3.4% more power, 7.3% more torque). Looks the same but many panels changed, new interior, sat-nav. ST-S grade added. Patrols place first, second and third in the Outback Challenge.
- 2006 - 3.0tdi Patrol available in Ti spec. Dual airbags standard on FX.
- 2007 - 4.2 diesel discontinued, minor upgrades to the rest of the range including refinements to the ZD30 for Euro4 emissions.
- 2013 - Y61 Patrol replaced with Y62 Patrol.