Rally Dakar-Winning Nissan Patrol Diesel Feels Sand Again After 30 Years

Nissan restores one of its motorsport greats

Despite being under scrutiny today – mostly because of Volkswagen's misbehaving, diesel engines had their age of glory in motorsport courtesy of the Dakar Rally and Nissan.

There was a time when Nissan raced a diesel Patrol at the Dakar Rally. It happened 30 years ago when the diesel-powered off-roader met the sand dunes in the Sahara desert, before breaking down and turning into a wreck.

"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."

Using a 2.8-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel with 146 hp on tap, the Dakar-spec Nissan Patrol carried its 1,600-kilo body on over rough terrain at speeds as high as 150 km/h (93 mph).

Thanks to Nissan's European Technical Centre in Barcelona, the Patrol earns another chance at life.

The Fanta Limon-liveried Patrol secured victory in the competition's diesel category and became the first diesel car to finish the race in top ten, securing the ninth place in the overall standings.

Back in 1987, the Dakar Rally was called Paris-Dakar and was through Europe and Africa instead of South America, with stages stretching over 13,000 km (80,077 miles) through countries like Algeria, Niger, Mali, Mauritania, and Senegal.