I have fond memories of the Nissan Patrol from when, as editor of Practical Caravan in the late 1990s, I used one to haul various large tourers (an insider’s term for a caravan) around the UK.
Since the Patrol goes all the way back to 1951, to be clear, mine was the Mk5 version, codenamed Y61, which was on sale in the UK from 1998 to 2009, being facelifted in 2005. It’s the Y61 to me and Nissan insiders, but to the wider public it’s the Patrol GR.
Whatever you call it, it’s a tank-like 4x4 with a traditional ladder-frame chassis, a cavernous seven-seat interior and all the four-wheel-drive trickery that you could wish for. Its 2.8-litre diesel engine is a smooth, torquey six-pot with an intercooler. Stir the gears and it can power the car down the road reasonably quickly.
With a kerb weight of 2335kg (for the five-door version) and a towing capacity of 3500kg, the Patrol GR is a match for any large tourer, too. It’s stable and secure and offers good visibility, although the rearward view is spoiled by only one of the two boot doors having a washer-wiper.
While we’re criticising it, the steering is woolly, the handling is ponderous, the brakes are spongy and refinement is so-so. The Patrol GR is a workhorse, pure and simple, albeit a well-equipped one (some later models even got a head-up compass).
It has always had an image problem, though. Never mind that you could see white ones nightly on TV ferrying aid to stricken areas of the world, most people after a large off-roader either went to Land Rover or, if reliability was more important than badge, Mitsubishi or Toyota.
Our thus forgotten off-roader was offered in short- and long-wheelbase forms, but here we’re interested in the latter, mainly because today it’s the only version available in numbers.
Not big numbers, though. There are only around 1000 Patrols of all generations on the roads and a handful of Patrol GRs in the classifieds, at prices ranging from £3500 to £10,000. Most are 3.0 Di versions; this four-pot, which makes 156bhp and 261lb ft of torque at 2000rpm, replaced the 130bhp 2.8 TD in 2000.