Nissan Restores Iconic 1987 Paris-Dakar Rally Car


After 30 years of neglect, Nissan's legendary 1987 Paris-Dakar Patrol rides again.

Back in 1986, a team of engineers at Nissan’s European Technical Center built a Nissan Patrol racing truck to compete in the grueling Dakar Rally. The Patrol was powered by a 2800cc turbodiesel engine that produced 146 hp and ample torque to tackle the tough terrain. The following year, two Nissan Patrols were entered into the 1987 Dakar Rally. One was forced to retire after rolling down a dune, but the other battled the elements and became the first ever diesel car to win its respective category and finished 9th overall.

Nissan subsequently retired from the championship and the surviving Patrol was sold to a collector. The legendary Dakar car was placed in a Spanish museum where it’s been neglected and left to rust ever since. Until now.

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Two years ago, Pedro Diaz Illan, one of the original members of the 1987 team that built the Dakar Nissan, enlisted a team of engineers to help restore the rusted Patrol to its former glory. Funded by Nissan’s Performance Innovation program, it was a painstaking passion project for the team, who restored the Patrol after work and on weekends. The engine was in terrible condition”, said Diaz Illan. “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. We wanted the car to be accurate in every way, and were lucky to get the very old drawings and service manuals from NTCE.

We followed all the fine adjustments to get the exact Paris-Dakar race set-up." After two years of hard work, the Patrol was finally restored and taken back to its spiritual home to tackle the dunes of Sahara once again. "That was a proud moment," said Diaz Illan. Our brains, hearts and souls have gone into this project and it has not been easy. But to see the car in the desert again was just fantastic. The spirit of innovation that was at the heart of Nissan's entry into the 1987 Paris-Dakar has been all around us as we have completed this project," said Juan. "We felt inspired by the memory of that team, which decided to participate in the most challenging race in the world and achieved such success."