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History of the Nissan Pathfinder

History of the Nissan Pathfinder

In 1985, Nissan had just becomeā€¦ well, Nissan. Cars, trucks, and SUVs sold in North America from 1980 to 1983 were branded as Datsun, the transitional Nissan Datsun in 1984, and finally Nissan in 1985 - also the debut year of the Nissan Pathfinder. And lest you think that this was just a matter of changing a single step in the manufacturing process, Nissan ran a 30-second ad during the Super Bowl to get North American drivers excited about this new direction. So while Dan Marino and Joe Montana made Super Bowl history by throwing more than 300 yards each during the 38-16 matchup, football fans got to see this:

Before the Nissan Pathfinder was the Bushmaster, a comparatively rare aftermarket conversion of the Datsun 720 "King Cab" trim. Even so, the Bushmaster was popular enough that Nissan decided to step into the CUV segment in earnest. Based on the Datsun D21 (also called the "Hardbody"), the factory-built, two-door 1985 Pathfinder CUV wore its heritage proudly, carrying the designation WD21. The competition in the SUV market at the time was intense, and the Pathfinder was positioned directly opposite challengers from Ford, Chevrolet, Toyota, and Jeep.

History of the Nissan Pathfinder

Drive Miguel Prieto made an impressive 9th-place showing for Nissan in the 1987 Paris-Dakar Rally with the Fanta-branded Patrol, a Spanish model 4x4 of the Japanese Nissan Safari - and as you can see in this Pathfinder commercial from 1990, it didn't take long for this demanding race to become part of the Nissan brand:

It's clear from the back and forth tone of this ad that Nissan understood the growing appeal of the Pathfinder as a dual-role SUV, equally able to negotiate urban challenges as off-road ones. With an ever-expanding array of passenger-pleasing features like the available Tri-Zone Entertainment System, whose wireless headphones allow front-row music to quietly coexist with two video game systems or DVDs, today's Pathfinder is just as versatile - as the experts at Abbotsford Nissan are eager to demonstrate Monday through Saturday, starting at 8:30 AM.

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