Nissan Patrol is a real-deal 4WD – not an SUV. Its truck-type body-on-chassis construction is designed to provide maximum strength in harsh driving conditions, particularly in real off-road stuff.
The drawback of a ladder-frame is a lack of refinement and comfort compared to the typical SUVs of the modern era.
The big Nissan did well enough in its early iterations but really came to the fore with the launch of the fourth generation, the GQ series, in 1987. Since then it has continued to be a worthy competitor for Toyota’s Landcruiser.
What to look for
• Wandering from straight-ahead when driving on a sealed road possibly means suspension problems. It can also be caused by incorrect tyre pressures. Check tyres before a test drive.
• Rust isn’t usually a problem unless a Patrol has been used in surf at a beach. Check the chassis and the lower areas of the body and doors.
• Look for under the body damage – the door sills and bumpers are usually the first to suffer. Look for dings in the bash plates and be sure they haven’t been pushed on to items they should be protecting.
• Listen for a whining sound from the turbo and look for black smoke from the exhaust under acceleration.
• Listen for noises from a manual gearbox during normal running and for crunching from a weak synchromesh.
• An old automatic may have a vibration in the tailshaft because it’s out of balance.
• Some old Patrols may have cracks in the spring mountings. Listen for squeaks or rattles from the front end when test driving, particularly on fast three-two downchanges.
Remember, big 4WDs that have done a lot of off-road work will wear out before those vehicles living a pampered suburban life. But workhorses driven well and maintained correctly will last for many years.
By Ewan Kennedy, Marque Automotive News