4 x 4 Australia - - History -

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.

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