A ranch, cowboys, the American West — Roy Rogers had it all to promote a little-known foreign brand
Earliest Nissan involvement: About 1962
Role: Celebrity endorser of the Datsun Patrol SUV
Key influence: Gave all-American appeal to Japanese import
Rogers was a spokesman for the rugged two-door SUV in the early 1960s. When the Japanese company needed an all-American spokesman, Rogers fit the bill.
Nissan exported Patrols to the United States from 1961 to 1969 and sold about 2,600 during that time. It competed with the Toyota Land Cruiser.
“Roy liked the Patrol, so Nissan offered him one (plus two pickups and a station wagon) in return for endorsing it,” according to the Web site www.DatsunHistory.com.
Rogers's son, Roy Rogers Jr., recalls his dad filming the Patrol commercial at the family's sprawling ranch in Chatsworth, Calif.
“It was shot just outside the master bedroom of the house,” says the younger Rogers. “Dad walked out of the bedroom — seems to me he was carrying a couple of rifles or a couple of shotguns.
“He stepped up on the fence and said, "Well, I'm going to take the workhorse of the ranch out and do a little shooting with the boys.' I remember him stepping over the fence, getting in and driving off.”
You can reach Arlena Sawyers at email@example.com.