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Nissan Patrol Fanta Limon Paris-Dakar 1987: Back in the dunes at the age of 30

Nissan Patrol Fanta Limon Paris-Dakar 1987
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D he Dakar Rally is one of the toughest Rallies in the world. In 1987, the Nissan Patrol Fanta Limon Paris-Dakar secured its entry in the history books: It not only won the diesel-powered vehicle class, but also achieved a place in the top 10 of the overall ranking with 9th place as the first diesel car ever. Today all of the top finishers in the rally have a diesel engine. Now the employees of the European Nissan Technical Center (NTCE) in Barcelona have restored the all-wheel drive model and brought it back to its old place of work: the sand dunes in the Sahara.

Two patrols at the start, only one held out

The then factory racer used a Nissan Patrol with all-wheel drive as the base vehicle, which was prepared by the NTCE in Spain for its new role in rallying. The eponymous sponsorship with Fanta Limon came about through a cooperation between Nissan Spain and the beverage manufacturer Coca-Cola. Success also came quickly: in 1986, the Nissan Patrol Fanta Limon won the diesel category in three competitions, and once even the overall ranking.

In 1987 312 vehicles covered the 13,000 kilometers through Europe, Algeria and Niger , Mali, Mauritania and Senegal - including two Patrol Fanta Limon Paris-Dakar. Miguel Prieto and Ramon Termens were in the vehicle with the starting number 211, the brothers Jorge and Hansi Babler in the vehicle with the number 212. First the support truck gave up its ghost, then it got the starting number 212. 211 held out until into Goal with known success.

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Rats had destroyed the electrical system

In February 2014, Nissan employees came across photos and started looking for the winning vehicle, the imitation one had been sold to a private collector after the race. Just in time for the 30th anniversary, they wanted to revive it. They rummaged through it in the automobile museumCollection south of the Spanish city of Girona. “The engine was in poor condition. You couldn't start it, many parts were corroded. The front axle was also damaged. But the worst was the electrics, which had been badly damaged by rats, ”explains Juan Villegas, technician at the NTCE and member of the eight-person restoration team. Also there: Pedro Diaz Illan, manager for electrics and electronics at the NTCE and the only member of the original team from 1987 who still works at Nissan today. After two years the time had finally come - the Nissan Patrol was revived and sent back to the desert.


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