Nissan celebrates 60 years since it first crossed the Simpson Desert with an engine
Nissan is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the first engine-powered crossing of the Simpson Desert achieved by the Sprigg family in their G60 Datsun Patrol in the year 1962.
The Simpson Desert is the largest parallel dune desert in the world, spanning more than 170,000 square kilometers and touching the Northern Territory, Queensland and South Australia.
With no roads or physical maps to follow, the Sprigg family set off from Andado Station in the Northern Territory and spent the next two weeks traversing more than 1100 dunes.
The last desert trip ended on September 11, 1962, when the family arrived at Birdsville in Queensland.
The family runs an average of 5km/h on their journey. Along with the sand, the family must navigate the mangrove plants that pose a fire hazard if they become bogged down at any time.
This fire risk is increased by the Sprigg family carrying a 200L tank of gas with them.
Doug Sprigg, seven, said: “In 1962, my father took my sister, mother, and I across the Simpson Desert, and it was going to be the first powered desert crossing,” said Doug Sprigg, seven age, said.
“I have fond memories of that G60. It’s a powerful and reliable car. I was even shorter then, and Nissan even provided me with a way to look forward – through the vents below the windshield.”
“With the four of us sitting facing the front seats, a 200 liter fuel tank in the back and a 200 liter water tank, the car was quite heavy, so I could see the landscape through the vents, but big sand dunes coming up I can see through the windshield.”
Doug is now a second generation owner of the Arkaroola Wildlife Sanctuary, located in the remote redlands of South Australia, an 8-hour drive from Adelaide.
His father, Australian geologist Reg Sprigg, purchased the 144,000-acre property in 1968 after falling in love with the land.
Nissan caught up with Doug at Arkaroola with a “perfectly restored” G60 Patrol to celebrate 60 years of crossing the Simpson Desert.
Mr Sprigg said: ‘It’s unbelievable to drive this car now, 60 years later.
“Dad was amazing about his diverse knowledge, and I didn’t realize how much I relied on him until he passed away. And suddenly, this wonderful resource is gone.”
“But jumping on this Nissan brings those memories back, it’s amazing.”
The Second generation G60 Patrol arrives in Australia in 1961 such as the Datsun Patrol with the (later) 4.0-litre overhead-valve straight-six petrol engine producing 92kW, and offered in softtop, wagon or cabin body styles.
Australia was one of the first international markets to see the Patrol with the G60 in action, as the first-generation model was only sold in Japan.
This version of the G60 remained largely unchanged for nearly 20 years until it was replaced by the MQ Series Datsun Patrol in 1980.
Australia has long been a key country for Patrol sales, and in a short period of time in the GU model cycle was indeed the world’s largest market for cars.
The patrol has also served with local police, fire and emergency service teams.
More recently, Patrol sets all-time sales record in Australia in March 2022with 918 is finding its way to customers.
Some of the Patrol’s recent growth has been helped by a supply headache of Toyota LandCruiser 300 Seriesits biggest local rival.
The Y62 generation Nissan Patrol went on sale in 2014 and was targeted to the Middle East with its petrol engine.
It currently starts at $82,160 before on-road costs and expands to $95,115 before off-road, with all variants equipped with the power-producing naturally aspirated 5.6-liter V8 298kW power and 560Nm torque.
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