This beast proved that diesel vehicles could excel in the grueling rally.

In 2014, a crew of eight Nissan employees in Barcelona, Spain, undertook the laborious process of restoring a 1987 Patrol with an important history in the history of the Paris-Dakar Rally. With the work finally done, the racing-spec SUV is back in the sand dunes where it belongs.

The Patrol in the 1987 Paris-Dakar Rally was the first vehicle to prove the performance of diesel-powered vehicles in the grueling event. The SUV used a 2.8-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel with 146 horsepower (109 kilowatts). The custom bodywork featured an eye-catching yellow and blue livery with Fanta Limon sponsorship. While it didn’t win, the Nissan was the first diesel-fueled model ever to break into the challenging race’s top ten finishers by coming in ninth overall.

1987 Nissan Patrol Paris-Dakar
1987 Nissan Patrol Paris-Dakar

While not good enough for a step on the podium, the Patrol's result hinted that diesel trucks would have a bigger role in the Dakar. Today, they have become commonplace at the top of the standings. For example, last year’s winner the Peugeot 2008 DKR packed a biturbo V6 with 340 horsepower (254 kilowatts).

After the event, the Patrol went to an automotive museum in Girona, Spain, where it rusted away for decades. Eventually, a team from Nissan’s European Technical Center saw the decrepit SUV on the Internet and bought the old racer. They began restoring the Patrol after work at night and on weekends.

“The engine was in terrible condition. It was impossible to start and many parts were heavily corroded. The front axle was quite damaged, but the worst thing was the electrics, which had been badly attacked by rats,” Juan Villegas, one of the restorers, said about the project.

The rally-spec Patrol originally came from the European Technical Center, so the restoration team had access to the original drawings and manuals for it. The SUV now has exact setup as when racing through Africa 30 years ago. Check out the revived Patrol in the video above because this beast looks as good in the dunes today as three decades ago.

Source: Nissan

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