Some vehicles mark a turning point in the history of brands. For Nissan in Europe, the Patrol was definitely one such vehicle. First manufactured on Spanish soil in 1983, this 4x4 was our first ever model manufactured in Europe and was emblematic of the manufacturing strides being taken by Nissan at the time. Its legacy continues today, with a new range of pickups being built at the same plant in Barcelona.
In the Nissan Patrol’s first 18 years of production, up to 2001, 196,000 units of this symbolic vehicle rolled out of the factory in Barcelona. It was such a success that in 1988 one out of every two SUVs (Sports Utility Vehicles) sold in Spain was a Nissan Patrol. It became so well known that it wasn’t uncommon for our colleagues in Spain to be asked “Do you work at Nissan Patrol?” and “Do you work at the Patrol?”
In the 1980s, the Patrol was reimagined as a rally car. Under a new guise (above) and name, the Nissan Patrol Fanta Limón, it became one of Nissan’s greatest sporting heroes. This legendary vehicle not only achieved victory in the diesel category of the mythical 1987 Paris-Dakar race but by placing ninth in the overall race, it also became the first diesel car to ever finish in the top ten positions.
Three decades after winning the race, in 2014, eight engineers from our R&D centre in Barcelona, known as Nissan Technical Centre Europe, restored the triumphant vehicle to its former glory as a “personal project” after finding it in a sorry state in a Spanish museum.
Searching throughout Europe for parts, our engineers wanted the car to be as true to its original Paris-Dakar winning build as possible. In November 2016, the Nissan Patrol Fanta Limón was fully restored, and was returned to his spiritual home, the sand dunes of the Sahara, an incredible moment for the whole team.
The triumph of the Patrol opened the way to the wider manufacturing of SUVs and pickups at our Barcelona plant, with a new range of 4x4s introduced over the years since. In 1993, the Nissan Terrano II came along, with the Pathfinder, while the first version of the Navara pickup was launched in 2015. In 2017, two more pickups, the Renault Alaskan and the Mercedes-Benz X Class were then also added to the Zona Franca factory’s roster.
What began with our flagship Nissan Patrol, has now evolved into a real segment of pride and leadership for our Barcelona plant.
The Patrol is an iconic part of Nissan’s pickup heritage and of our manufacturing history in Europe and Spain and we continue to benefit from its success. Building on the experience gained in producing such a vehicle and with the introduction of new technology, we’re excited to see what future innovations are yet to come.