By on April 15, 2019

The Patrol has forever been Nissan’s answer to the Toyota Land Cruiser, as both brands compete for rough and tumble SUV customers. Today’s Rare Ride represents just how many creature comforts can be added to a go-anywhere truck.

Presenting the Nissan Safari from 1989.


The Patrol started production in 1951, aping the looks and function of the Willys Jeep. It borrowed the name too; sometimes it was just called a Jeep. Mostly intended for military use, the bare-bones first generation lasted through 1960.

With the debut of the second generation, production expanded to include more body styles: Patrol now offered hardtops, vans, and a pickup truck. Distribution expanded as well, and the Patrol was sold (as a Nissan) at Datsun dealerships in North America between 1962 and 1969.

It was 1980 before the third-generation Patrol began production, known as the 160 series. Comfort and equipment came into play for the first time, as this generation saw the introduction of an automatic transmission. Accompanying the transmission option were new trim levels. Deluxe examples included luxuries like air conditioning and power steering.

A fourth-generation (Y60) Patrol started production in 1987, bringing us to today’s Rare Ride. In a turn from prior generations, a coil suspension replaced the old leaf springs and brought refinement to travel. Power steering was standard and, if buyers spent enough money, they’d have the benefit of front and rear disc brakes. Automatic transmissions in this generation were all of the four-speed variety, while manuals had five forward gears. Engines ranged between 2.8 and 4.2 liters, all of them inline-sixes.

The Japanese market received the fourth-generation Patrol as the Safari. While models for other markets had a 12-volt electrical system, the Safari had a 24-volt. Today’s Rare Ride is a decked-out short-wheelbase example from the end of the Eighties. It has the largest 4.2-liter diesel engine. Said diesel propels all the tape stripes, power equipment, and tweedy seats through an automatic transmission. The Safari asks $14,900 and is located in Philadelphia.

[Images: seller]

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17 Comments on “Rare Rides: Patrol the Desert in This 1989 Nissan Safari...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Thank goodness that was a Japan only name. Wouldn’t want anyone to confuse this with the Pontiac Safari or the GMC Safari./s

  • avatar
    gtem

    One heck of a rig, I’d love to have access to cheaper ones. As it stands, it’s too expensive to really thrash offroad like you might an old Jeep/Toyota/etc. Arabs really go nuts over these things and build insane turbo motors for dune climbing competitions.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      I too like them, but yeah, give me a strip model with rubber floors and three pedals. Still a swb 2 door body-style, though. I loved my 2 door Isuzu Trooper, very fun and functional, if not as capable as this.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I miss these short boxy SUVs. They were cheap, purposeful and kind of fun

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    Me too. I want a modern version of this in the exact same color combo, tweed interior inclusive. I suppose I can buy an ace of base Jeep Renegade 6mt and have it wrapped.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      If I really wanted something brand new, cheap (relatively speaking), cheerful, and off-road capable I’d get a Wrangler Sport (or Sport S) with a few selected options.

      Then as time and budget allowed you could build it into whatever you wanted.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        Yeah how does one skip over the legit offroader Wrangler which has solid axles just like this Nissan and end up at a wrapped Renegade instead lol

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          The Renegade is a compromise, but it’s far more capable then anything in it’s class

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Far more capable? Eh I’d say the Outlander Sport gives it a good run for its money. And again, we’re talking about a rather low bar here.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            I spent the mid-90s going far afield in third-world heck-holes behind the wheels of rented Starlets, Tercels and Corollas. I was never stranded, although I did have to pound down the odd floor hump at turn-in time. I have had much better luck off road with rented Toyotas than I have with Wranglers. I kicked the Wrangler habit back when they had carburetors and rectangular headlights though. Walking out of the wilderness twice will do that for you. Maybe they’re less likely to refuse to run on wet days now. I was a supremely disappointed former-believer at the time though.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            Yeah, who needs a BOF solid-axle-front-and-rear legendary 4×4 SUV when you can go the everywhere it can in a Tercel? Yay Toyota! Is there anything a Toyota cant do?

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            Good thing you got he Tercel instead of the Land Cruiser. You’d long for that Jeep…it would at least be lighter to push.

  • avatar
    cliff731

    RH drive… perfect for a rural mail carrier who also needs 4×4 capability!!!

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      One of the carriers around here has a JDM Mitsubishi Pajero for that.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        I’ve been tempted to become a mail carrier just so I can justify buying some quirky RHD Japanese metal. But, in reality, $14k+ is a bit much for an older vehicle that will see daily service and may quite possibly be near impossible to find parts for. Yeah, a new RHD Wrangler is twice that easy, but it has a warranty and service/parts availability virtually anywhere on this continent.

  • avatar
    Gedrven

    Does it still have the 24V electrical system? While such things have merits for reliability reasons, maintainability would take a huge hit unless you have military-like economies of scale. What do you use for lightbulbs, for instance?

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      If i were to guess, it’s only a partial 24v for the starting and charging circuits, and the cluster and other electrical accessories are 12v. Some older diesel tractors were set up that way.


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