The Nissan Patrol became not only the first, but also the only vehicle to complete the Spriggs' gruelling 12-day crossing of the 176,500 square kilometre desert and its 1,000 parallel sand dunes.
The first documented crossing of the Simpson Desert only pre-dates the Spriggs' achievement by 26 years. While explorers including Charles Sturt penetrated the forbidding desert as early as 1844, the first white man to make a full crossing was E.A. (Ted) Colson, who in 1936 with an Aboriginal companion and five camels took 36 days to complete the journey.
Geologist Cecil Madigan then led the first major expedition across the desert in 1939, naming it after Alfred Allen Simpson, the President of the South Australian branch if the Royal Geographical Society of Australasia.
Next year Nissan are staging the 50th Anniversary Nissan Patrol crossing, and will largely follow the Spriggs' original route. It will be led by an identical Nissan Patrol G60 to that used on the first crossing, crewed by Doug and Margaret Sprigg, who today run Arkaroola Sanctuary in the Flinders Ranges.
The actual Nissan Patrol used in 1962 disappeared many years ago and Nissan Australia is staging a country-wide search to locate it in time for the 50th Anniversary celebrations.
Reg Sprigg chose the Nissan Patrol G60 for the crossing based on its strength and suitability for the harsh desert terrain and at a time before the establishment of Nissan Australia in 1966. Based on the first short wheelbase Nissan Patrol developed in 1951 for military use, his Patrol featured a 3,956cc overhead valve straight six-cylinder petrol engine, a three-speed dual range transmission, live axles and leaf springs.
Patrol owners from around Australia are invited to celebrate the re-enactment at its conclusion in Birdsville in September 2012.