THE MQ PATROL
WHEN the MQ Patrol (160 Series) was introduced to replace the 60 Series in 1980, the worldwide four-wheel drive market was rapidly evolving. While still based on a relatively basic platform (separate chassis and live-axle, leaf-spring suspension), the MQ Patrol had a more modern body style, was available in bright colours with ‘loud’ graphics, offered a choice of petrol and diesel six-cylinder engines and included short-wheelbase and longwheelbase models in the line-up, along with a variety of body styles (SWB hardtop, pick-up, cab-chassis and wagon).
Driveline variants included a 3.3-litre diesel engine and 2.8- and 4.0-litre petrol engines. Initially a four-speed manual gearbox was the only option, but by the end of 1981 buyers of the deluxe seven-seat wagon could opt for a three-speed automatic transmission. A new limited-slip rear differential was also introduced.
A facelift of the MQ Patrol was launched in 1983, which featured upgraded front suspension and stylish-for-the-time rectangular headlights. Importantly, the MQ also scored a fivespeed manual transmission, while the 24-volt electrical system employed on the SD33 diesel engine version was flicked in favour of a more traditional (and therefore more compatible with most accessories) 12-volt electrical system. A turbocharged version of the SD33 was introduced, making a claimed 81kw and 255Nm, and owners of this model didn’t go unnoticed thanks to the massive ‘TURBO’ stickers on the rear panels of the Patrol.
With its choice of bright colours, modern styling, optional fancy white Sunraysia-style rims and relatively high equipment levels (AM/FM radio cassette, digital clock, optional air-conditioning, comprehensive instrument panel), higher-spec versions of the Patrol became popular with recreational four-wheel drivers, in both short-wheelbase hardtop and long-wheelbase wagon variants. However, base-spec models and pick-up/cab-chassis models still appealed to rural/business buyers.
There were further updates to the MQ Patrol in 1986, with a more powerful 4.0-litre petrol six and the five-speed gearbox becoming standard across the range, along with standard power steering.
Nissan had a strong Patrol line-up in the MQ, with more than 20 variants on offer towards the end of its lifespan, and with relatively keen pricing, it could take the fight to Toyota’s 40 and 60 Series Land Cruisers. However, the big news for Patrol was still a year away.