The early 1950s was a time of change in America. Not only were people regaining stability after World War II, the economy was booming with more money, more faith and more leisure activities. Also booming was the automotive scene.
In 1950, one of the off-road community’s shining stars came about in the form of the Nissan Patrol. A tough utilitarian vehicle, many generations and sub-models of the Patrol have prospered for years, even existing still today. But for this Vintage Monday, let’s take a look back at the first and second-generation models.
Introduced in Japan in 1950, the Nissan Patrol was released in its first form–the 4W70 Carrier model. Based on the Dodge M37, the Nissan model used the same chassis as the Dodge, but powered by a 75 HP 3.7L Nissan NAK engine borrowed from the brand’s 290 bus.
In 1951, the 4W60 was introduced, equipped with the same engine. With part-time four-wheel-drive, a four-speed manual transmission and stylings reminiscent of the Willys, the 4W60 quickly became known as a rugged utilitarian vehicle all over the country.
In 1955, the Patrol was upgraded to the 4W61 and 4W72 models. This time around, both models received a 92 HP 3.7L Nissan NB engine, followed by a 105 HP 4.0L Nissan NC engine. Minor modifications included different hoods and grills, as well as different headlights on both models, while the 4W61 received a new uneven front seat setup (the passenger side was wider than the drivers side seat) and a one-piece windshield.
In October of 1958, the 4W61 model was discontinued for the upgraded 4W65 model, equipped with a chromed-bar grill and redesigned fenders. The new model also brought about an eight-seat hardtop wagon called the WG4W65.
In 1959, the new 4W73 replaced the 4W72 with refined fenders, hood and grill, as well as a new 145 HP Nissan P engine. The 4W65 also got replaced with the short-lived 4W66 model, equipped with a 125 HP Nissan P engine.
By 1960, the Patrol had transitioned from its first to its second generation, known as the 60 Series.
Both a Nissan Patrol 60, with two doors and an 86.6-inch wheelbase, and a G60, with two doors and a 98.4-inch wheelbase, were available. Both were first sold in Australia with L60 and GL60 models sold outside the country in places like South Africa.
These models featured several options, from a three-speed transmission early on to a four-speed transmission, and part-time four-wheel drive later on. With a 241ci Nissan P inline-6 engine, drum brakes, 16-inch wheels and a live-leaf suspension system in both the front and back, the 60 Series made its mark on uncharted territory.
American customers didn’t get their first taste of the imported Nissan Patrol 60 until 1962.
By then an extra long wheelbase was also available on the model, known as the H60, which could hold up to eight passengers.
Throughout the 60 Series, you could purchase a Patrol 60 in three-door soft-top and hardtop (starting in 1963) forms, as well as the long wheelbase-equipped five-door WG60 wagon, G60H-A cab and chassis, and two-door 62ZG60H pickup truck. In the H60 line, you could even purchase a five-door VH60 van or a FH60 firetruck.
Nissan Patrol 60 models were sold in Japan, South Africa, India, the United States and the Philippines in one form or another sometime between 1959 and 1980. Some were even marketed under different brands such as Datsun and Ebro.
Interestingly enough, the Indian Army picked up design and engineering ques from both the Nissan Patrol 60 and the 4W73 in the 1960s to create its own versions of the utilitarian vehicles.
In 1966, the vehicle was released in the form of the Jonga with a 4.0L Hino diesel engine to civilians and in 1969, three non-fighting Jonga Indian Military vehicles were released–one in half-ton Nissan Patrol 60 form, another in one-ton 4W73 form, and another in three-ton Shaktiman truck (from Germany) form.
Still to this day, militaries in Asia and the Middle East use second-generation-platform Nissan Patrol vehicles.