How many show-car concepts over the decade have featured a “convertible” body, where the car could be transformed from one body style to another? In my memory, several; it’s an irresistible draw for designers. And how many have actually made it into production? The only one that come to my mind is this gen2 Nissan Pulsar. When I saw it and its gen1 predecessor two blocks away, it was my cue to take a look at this historically significant little car.
The Pulsar’s upper rear body section is removable, and can be replaced by the wagon-like Sportbak option, or left off entirely for a laundalet-like open rear seat. With the T-top opened also, an almost full-convertible feel was created. I remember seeing quite few of the Sportbak versions in its day, and its been a long time since I’ve seen one. I haven’t spotted a Pulsar at all in Eugene, but its still vivid in my memory; the gen2 version that is.
The most attractive young female employee at the tv station I was managing in 1986 bought one of the first Pulsars in LA in the fall of ’86. It was red like this one, and they were a perfect combination. The Pulsar was not only unique in its body configuration, but it was pretty aggressively styled too. A hot little number, both of them; sure got my pulse going.
That hardly applies to its gen1 predecessor. Built from ’83 to ’86, it was trying to be a bit adventuresome, but came off rather cliched in that Japanese school of hard-edged boxyness. The graphics package didn’t help either. No wonder it had long left my active memory banks.
These Pulsars sold in the US were Sentra based, and the only time that name was used here. In the rest of the world, Pulsars graced a variety of small FWD Nissan sedans, hatches and coupes.