The year was 1983.
I was in standard three. We were working on a school project when the prettiest girl in my class asked me to come over to her house that afternoon to work on our project.
We had to fetch some stuff in town and her mom loaded us in their brand new Nissan Safari station wagon.
"I Don't Wanna Dance" started playing over the stereo tape deck. I was in heaven!
It was the first time I had seen something as beautiful and brutally honest in character as that wagon.
It was fitted with the biggest tyres I had ever seen on anything smaller than a truck. And it had an engine sound never heard before on a 4X4.
It captivated my mind, so much so that I knew I had to own one some day.
So, 23 years passed and in 2006 I stumbled across a prime example with only 135 000 km on the clock. Orangeand totally original, I immediately bought the car and renamed it "Pampoen".
It is my childhood dream, come true!
Styling was done with 90 degrees in mind. It's very square, straight and simple, but a purity flows through the entire design. I have never seen a vehicle with flatter, more un-styled styling than this car.
It only has one intention, and that is ruggedness.
The interior is adorned with minimal features. It has three benches giving nine seats, of which only the driver's seat is adjustable.
Windows open manually, the air conditioning works fine, it has an ashtray and there is no storage space for oddments at all. The whole interior is made of vinyl that, even back in 1983looked very simple, but 26 years on, remains very durable indeed. Of course, it's also very easy to clean.
This Patrol is powered by the L28 straight six Nissan motor (with twin SU carburettors) that was also used in Skyline, Cabstar, Laurel, 280Z and 300C models.
Mostly seen in Skylines, this motor can seriously rev and 7 000 r/min is no problem at all.
The Patrol/Safari range was fitted with a low-compression version of this motor, producing a lot of torque from as low as 1 000 r/min. The motor is also very smooth at all revs.
Top speed is off the clock, which reads to 160 km/h. It has four gears only and always sounds like it is over-revving. Driving at 120 km/h seesthe rev counterregistering 4 000 r/min, but the engine note is intoxicating. It is music to any petrolhead's ears!
The Patrol/Safari has a ladder frame chassis that is seam-welded across its entire length. Both the front and rear have solid axles, while leaf springs provide very rugged suspension all round. Not built for comfort at all, this type of suspension is virtually indestructable.
The rear diff is fitted with a limited slip and the front diff is open.
On tar it feels very hard and nervous, but is perfectly happy cruising at an indicated 110km/h. Anything faster feels very busy and wind noise is intrusive.
This vehicle has real 4X4 ability with top-class articulation; it will break you before you can break it! It is simply in a league of its own on sand, and even better in mud. And 45 degree slopes are no problem.
This is perhaps one of the best Nissans ever built. It also happens to be the love of my life.