Well it’s full of cactus but the ute is fine.

This is our 2002 Nissan Patrol Coil Cab Chassis.

Actually, it’s technically not even ours because Mum decided that it should stay in her name because the current value of the thing means the stamp duty for a registration transfer would be...sizeable.

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Anyway...

It’s the farm ute. It started its working life on my parents place as a brand new vehicle before moving to our place earlier this year, 16 years and just 69,000 km later.

Just before it arrived, the original clutch and flywheel were replaced (it had done quite a bit of overloaded towing, off roading and log work). Since it turned up it has been given a damn good clean, a service, some accessories (bullbar, spotlights, seat covers and a dash mat) and new suspension.

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The best thing about this thing is its party trick. My late step father had a tipper kit installed into it. This has proved wildly handy over the last few months as unloading most things is a breeze. I say most things because it is quite easy to overwhelm the electric pump with a decent (over 600 kg) load of soil or gravel especially if it has slipped towards the back board.

The Patrol has a platform is equal parts brilliant and frustrating. The 4.2 litre turbo diesel is like a lot of older Nissan straight sixes - almost bullet proof but surprisingly lazy. The manual 5 speed gearbox is the secret to getting the best out of the engine. Around the farm it rarely gets beyond 3rd gear or 2000 rpm. Which is good because once the revs are up, its appetite for diesel is prodigious.

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Once out on the open road, things get a little hectic. Even a new suspension can not hide the fact that the Patrol is an automotive boat that likes to duck and weave in response to the road surface and change in direction. Further, nigh on two decades of bush bashing means that the steering and brakes are both less than sharp.

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The interior is a swathe of brown and grey. The seats are terrible. The base has no support and it is possible to feel one of the cross braces with the bones of your arse. So there’s some work to do there. At the moment, it’s adequate for farm use and the odd run to town but Heaven help me if I have to drive it more than a couple of hours...

Is it as good as a similar vintage 75 series Land Cruiser? Yes it is - mostly. Argueably, the Cruiser is a slightly sharper tool straight out of the box but that advantage would have diminished in the time since. The primary advantage of the Patrol is that it was (and still is) cheaper to get hold of.

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This is quite obviously a keeper for us. It does need some work on it so it can also qualify as something of a project car. The tray will provide me with much welding practice next year once the shed is built.

Clearly, most Oppo’s will never get the chance to see one of these, let alone drive one. And I don’t believe you should in any way regret that since I’m not convinced they should be anyone’s dream 4x4 either.

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I will say though that I think America and Americans missed out on something really good when the Chicken Tax crueled any chance of them learning what a decent 4x4 pickup could be back around the turn of the century.