Toyota wasn't the only one who copied the Willys Jeep.
When World War II came to an end, the Axis Powers had suffered defeat and it was time to pick up the pieces to rebuild those countries. Japan, Germany, and Italy were in shambles, as was most of Europe. Japan and Germany, in particular, had a pre-war history of industrialization, so it made sense to get all of that backup and running. What to build? Cars, of course, just like before the war. While Germany and Volkswagen soon began churning out Beetles, Japanese automakers such as Nissan and Toyota eyed a certain 4x4 prized by the US Army.
The original Willys Jeep has long been credited with playing a central role in America’s WWII victory, and these Japanese automakers were intrigued by it.
Toyota, for example, was sent a captured example from the Philippines by the Japanese Imperial Army for the sole purpose of reverse engineering. That later became the Land Cruiser. As for Nissan, beginning in 1951 it began building the Patrol, also still in production today (known as the Armada in the US). It’s possible to find first and second generation examples out there, but not all of them are in good shape. We dug around and for this week’s Craigslist feature, we found this beautiful 1966 Patrol for sale in Los Angeles. One look and its origins are immediately obvious.
The first generation Patrol was built from 1951 until 1960 and was available with a few body styles, including a three-door van, two-door pickup truck, and even a fire truck. All were powered by inline-six engines and a four-speed manual gearbox. Its off-roading capabilities, like the Willys Jeep, is what the Patrol was prized for, and this continued with the second generation model, launched in 1960.
It was imported to the US from ’62 until ’69 and sold at Datsun dealerships. In fact, the Patrol was the only Nissan-badged vehicle sold in the US until the early 1980s. The 4WD Patrol 60 series was available in short, medium, and long wheel-bases as well as hard and soft top options. Power came from a 4.0-liter inline-six connected to either a three- or four-speed manual. Aside from the typical driver and front passenger seat, rear seat passengers sat facing each other.
Interesting historical fact: Nissan Australia claims a Patrol 60 series completed the first drive across Australia’s Simpson Desert in 1962. The automaker went as far as commemorating the 50th anniversary of this event with a re-enactment. Toyota, however, disputed the Patrol’s accomplishment, claiming its own Land Cruiser beat the Patrol in that desert crossing. Each automaker evidently decided its own history.
The ’66 Patrol you see here can be yours for $8,995 on Craigslist. The seller claims it runs and drives just fine and its 4WD system works as it should. There’s a total of 128,429 miles on its clock, but we can’t tell whether it’s the original engine and three-speed transmission. Generally speaking, the exterior and interior look to be in pretty solid shape, considering the Patrol’s age. There’s some wear and tear on the rear seats, but that’s expected and can be easily fixed. The dashboard looks clean with no noticeable damage.
Given the fact that classic FJ40 Land Cruiser prices have been skyrocketing lately, perhaps one of the best alternatives is an old school Nissan Patrol. Both vehicles have a common ancestor and a history of ruggedness. Why not save a bundle and opt for a Patrol instead?