4 x 4 Australia - - History -

UN­TIL the launch of the GQ Pa­trol (Y60) in late 1987, Nis­san al­ways played sec­ond fid­dle to Toy­ota, which had its hugely pop­u­lar Land Cruiser spear­head­ing its four-wheel drive line-up. But Nis­san got the hop on Toy­ota when the all-coil-spring GQ Pa­trol landed lo­cally, and it sold like hot­cakes com­pared to the now-out­dated leaf-spring 60 Se­ries Land Cruiser. Nis­san held on to this tech­ni­cal (and there­fore sales) ad­van­tage un­til 1990, when Toy­ota fi­nally rushed the 80 Se­ries to mar­ket.

There were some carry-over body parts from the MQ, but the new GQ Pa­trol was light years ahead of its pre­de­ces­sor (and com­pe­ti­tion) in terms of styling, ride qual­ity and re­fine­ment. Its long-travel, coil-spring sus­pen­sion of­fered a blend of on-road com­fort and off-road per­for­mance that couldn’t be matched – at least with­out tak­ing out a sec­ond mort­gage and buy­ing a Range Rover.

Up front, the GQ Pa­trol sported a three-link, live-axle, coil-spring ar­range­ment, while the rear was a five-link de­sign (the cab-chas­sis vari­ant was ini­tially of­fered with only a leaf-spring rear-end). Sway bars were fit­ted at both ends and some mod­els fea­tured rear sway bar dis­con­nects for in­creased wheel travel in off-road sit­u­a­tions.

Ini­tially there were two en­gine op­tions in the GQ Pa­trol line-up: the 4.2-litre OHV TB42 petrol six (125kw/325nm), and the 4.2-litre OHV TD42 diesel six (85kw/264nm). Both en­gines were mated to a heavy-duty, fivespeed man­ual or a four-speed auto trans­mis­sion, and power was di­rected through a two-speed trans­fer case and part-time 4WD sys­tem. A lim­ited-slip rear diff was standard, or a rear diff lock could be se­lected as an op­tional ex­tra on some mod­els. All wag­ons fea­tured four-wheel disc brakes, while the cab-chas­sis re­tained drums at the rear.

There were a va­ri­ety of trim lev­els on of­fer, start­ing with the base-spec DX, which had vinyl trim, man­u­ally op­er­ated win­dows and mir­rors, man­ual free-wheel­ing hubs and op­tional air con­di­tion­ing. The ST added cloth trim, power win­dows and mir­rors, cen­tral lock­ing, standard air con­di­tion­ing and auto hubs (with man­ual over­ride). A high-roof Ti model was added in 1989, which scored velour trim, car­pet, rear air con­di­tion­ing, up­graded sound sys­tem and al­loy wheels. The high-roof (called the Sa­fari Roof) was flicked in 1991, al­though the Ti model was re­tained in the line-up, al­beit with standard roof height.

Nis­san added a third en­gine to the Pa­trol wagon line-up in 1990: the 3.0-litre RB30 petrol six (100kw/224nm). This was the same en­gine used in the Nis­san Sky­line and Holden VL Com­modore and, while not ide­ally suited for use in a big, heavy 4WD like the Pa­trol, it proved pop­u­lar thanks to keen pric­ing. This en­gine was only of­fered with a five-speed man­ual trans­mis­sion in seven-seat

ST spec, which was later re­named ST3. The Pa­trol was up­dated in 1992, when the GQ Se­ries II was launched. Among other re­fine­ments, the 4.2-litre petrol en­gine gained the ben­e­fit of elec­tronic fuel in­jec­tion (EFI), which im­proved re­fine­ment but did lit­tle for the en­gine’s thirsty na­ture. Other up­dates in­cluded the ad­di­tion of side-in­tru­sion beams in the doors, tweaks to sus­pen­sion and trans­mis­sion, big­ger brakes and changes to the standard equip­ment list. From 1989 to 1994, Ford Aus­tralia sold a re­badged ver­sion of the GQ Pa­trol called the Ford Mav­er­ick, in both long- and short­wheel­base mod­els. Ford of­fered both the TB42 petrol-six (man­ual or auto) and the TD42 diesel-six (man­ual only). In 1994, a coil cab ver­sion of the GQ Pa­trol was added to the Nis­san line-up, which was sold along­side the pre-ex­ist­ing cabchas­sis and pick-up mod­els that sported the leaf-spring rear-end. The coil cab of­fered vastly su­pe­rior ride to the leaf-spring cab-chas­sis vari­ants, es­pe­cially when un­laden or with only a light load on board. And sur­pris­ingly, the five-link, coil-spring sus­pen­sion ar­range­ment added less than $1500 to the price of the cabchas­sis Pa­trol, prov­ing pop­u­lar with recre­ational four-wheel driv­ers who didn’t need a wagon. How­ever, the leaf-spring ver­sion was still a favourite among ru­ral/busi­ness buy­ers; old-school think­ing dic­tated that only leaf springs were suit­able for haul­ing heavy loads.

The GQ Pa­trol un­der­went an­other up­date in 1995, at which point the RD28T 2.8-litre turbo-diesel six-cylin­der en­gine was added to the line-up, in both DX and ST trim lev­els. The boosted en­gine pro­duced the same peak power as the TD42 (85kw), al­beit at slightly higher revs (4400rpm as op­posed to 4000rpm), but couldn’t match the big­ger, nat­u­rally as­pi­rated en­gine for torque out­put, mak­ing just 235Nm at 2400rpm as op­posed to 264Nm at 2000rpm. Nev­er­the­less, on-road per­for­mance was sim­i­lar thanks to sig­nif­i­cantly shorter gear­ing; the trade-off be­ing less re­laxed high­way tour­ing. Only avail­able with a fivespeed man­ual trans­mis­sion, the RD28T’S gear­box was a lighter unit than the one mated to the TD42, and it also missed out on the lat­ter’s ex­cel­lent trans­mis­sion-mounted drum park­ing brake.

De­spite its short­com­ings, the RD28T ver­sion of the Pa­trol proved pop­u­lar thanks to keen pric­ing – it of­fered a sav­ing at the time of around $4K com­pared to a sim­i­larly equipped TD42 Pa­trol. Nev­er­the­less, the TD42 Pa­trol was the favourite among out­back tour­ers who loved this en­gine’s rel­a­tive sim­plic­ity, de­cent per­for­mance and leg­endary re­li­a­bil­ity. For those who wanted ex­tra per­for­mance, a num­ber of Nis­san deal­ers of­fered the su­perbly en­gi­neered Sa­fari turbo and in­ter­cooler kits as a dealer-fit op­tion.

De­spite the big choice of en­gine/trans­mis­sion/spec-level op­tions of­fered by Nis­san, to­wards the end of the GQ’S life­span the Pa­trol was no longer a match for Toy­ota’s 80 Se­ries Land Cruiser, which was now avail­able with a 1FZ-FE 4.5-litre petrol en­gine, a 1HZ 4.2-litre nat­u­rally as­pi­rated diesel en­gine, and a 1HD-T di­rect-in­jec­tion 4.2-litre turbo-diesel en­gine. Nis­san fans had high hopes when a ru­moured re­place­ment for the GQ Pa­trol was set to land in Aus­tralia in 1997 but, ini­tially at least, many would be dis­ap­pointed.

GU Pa­trol of­fered a peer­less (for the time) bal­ance of on-road com­fort and off-road abil­ity.

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