30-year-old Nissan Patrol Fanta Limon from 1987 Paris-Dakar Rally is fully restored for a reunion on the sands.
We’re just three weeks away from the green flag dropping on the most famous endurance rally in the world, the Dakar. And while many will be looking towards Peugeot to collect its second win on the trot, or MINI for its fifth win in six years, we have been taking a closer look at Nissan. More specifically, the Nissan Patrol Fanta Limon from 1987 that finished ninth overall – then a Dakar record – that Nissan’s European Technical Centre has just spent two years restoring as part of the company’s ‘Performance Innovation’ fund.
In the above video, Juan Villegas of NETC walks us through the realities of restoring a 30-year-old Dakar weapon in its original factory before the finished product is reunited with the sands themselves. And my my, the restoration required…
“The engine was in terrible condition”, explains Juan. “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 cannot display this galleryThe 2800cc turbodiesel four-cylinder was eventually rebuilt, the original 146bhp and 1600kg kerb weight figures not too far outside the NETC’s crosshairs. The final touch? The original Fanta Limon livery.
For 1987, only two cars were prepared, and while the location of chassis #212 remains unknown, #211 spent almost three decades in a private car collection in Barcelona before being retrieved by NCTE technicians in early 2014. Even before the Fanta Limon made it to Dakar, it had already chalked up some impressive results. In 1986, it was the highest place diesel car in every competition it entered, and even took victory on the 1986 Raid Pharaons with Miguel Prieto and co-driver Ramón Termens, who would also take on the 13,000km Paris-Dakar Rally the following January. The pair’s ninth place overall though would dip below the limelight, however the 1987 event marking the first of an eventual four wins for Ari Vatanen, the first of four successive wins for Peugeot, and the beginning of increased official factory participation that would change the sport forever.