By on December 5, 2016

1988 Nissan Pulsar NX in Wisconsin wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The second-generation Nissan Pulsar NX (known as the Nissan EXA outside of North America) was a cheap, mildly sporty two-seater that never sold as well as the Honda CRX or even the Ford EXP. In this series, we’ve seen this Colorado ’87 and this California ’89, and now we have a rusty ’88 in the weeds at the edge of a Wisconsin yard.

1988 Nissan Pulsar NX in Wisconsin wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

This taillight treatment was recreated by many masking-tape-and-rattle-can-wielding owners of Mercury Topazes and Hyundai Scoupes during the 1990s.

1988 Nissan Pulsar NX in Wisconsin wrecking yard, NISMO sticker - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The 1.8-liter four-cylinder in this car made 125 horsepower, 20 more than the 1988 CRX Si. Of course, the NISMO sticker adds another 50 hp.

1988 Nissan Pulsar NX in Wisconsin wrecking yard, fender rust - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Japanese cars of this era didn’t last long in the Upper Midwest, where the Rust Monster devoured these cars quickly. This one managed to evade the junkyard for nearly 30 years, which is quite an accomplishment.

Swappable rear body panels, described by a breathless Japanese woman. I have yet to find a “Sportbak” wagon body on one of these cars in a junkyard, but I keep hoping.

In Australia, waitresses could not resist the appeal of the ever-changing EXA (prounounced “ECKS-suh”).

Along with the 300ZX and 200SX, Nissan offered three kinds of heat with the Pulsar NX.

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23 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1988 Nissan Pulsar NX...”


  • avatar
    OldManPants

    Remember how in The Fly, Jeff Goldblum puked on food to dissolve it for eating? That’s what our woods here do to steel.

    On a woodsy scale, ’70s & ’80s J-cars are a quick snack.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    “the NISMO sticker adds another 50 hp.”

    Presumably a fart can muffler and K&N filter charger (but where is its sticker??) another 25hp each…

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    One of the few ’80s cars to come with many clip-on accessories! I’ve always liked these. I’m sure it’d be incredibly hard to find one with both the trunk and wagon backs still present.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    That last linked commercial gave me a shoulder pads headache.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Sigh, it would be a Twincam. The regular 70-90hp 1.6Ls were far more common. These cars did have a nominal back seat, so strictly speaking they’re 2+2s. The EXA is for all intents and purposes a B12 Sentra under the sheet metal, so the Twincam can be used as a parts source to build a sort-of-proto SE-R out of a B12 coupe.

    • 0 avatar
      salguod

      Actually, judging by the lack of front air dam and no SE badging, this is the 90 HP XE, not a twin cam.

      I had a 1988 SE back in the early 90s. A fun car, but a real lemon. Cost me a fortune.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    I remember these cars – those slanted taillights were something different and stuck in my mind. That and my family had one of the few Nissans in town, an ’84 King Cab truck that saw a lot of work hauling wood. I became a bit of a Nissan fanatic/defender in this GM town, loving the 300ZX over the domestic sports cars of the time.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    A girl friend of mine (not girlfriend, although she was a pretty hot Chicana) owned one of these in gold, with the five-speed and the funky corduroy upholstery in brown. She had slapped a set of “Special Edition” wire wheel covers on it.

    I still see them driving around occasionally, but I haven’t seen a Sportbak in a zillion years.

  • avatar
    e30gator

    A buddy of mine had an ’88 Pulsar NX in high school that I always thought was a cool car, if not very fast.

    The base ’89 Sentra that I drove back then was somehow faster. Go figure.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Such a sad story ~ Nissan should have hit it out of the ball park with this car but failed to advertise it well .

    I still see these around Los Angeles, the few lucky ones found the Wagon Back @ Pick-A-Part and will prolly never sell .

    IIRC they had three different rear covers .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    JMII

    Between the tail lights and the re-configurable “hatch” the Pulsar was my late 80s dream machine. However I got a yellow Honda Prelude Si instead. I’m sure my Prelude was much faster. Both cars featured flip up headlights. The Prelude had a sunroof, the Pulsar had removable T-tops. They both had the same 2+2 seating and basic shape, thus it was toss up as to which one had more awesome sauce.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    Like many Nissans of the era very awkwardly styled. A buddy had a girlfriend back then who drove one, and his take was they did a good job styling the front but the car it looks like they weren’t sure what to do when they got to the back. I’d have to agree.

  • avatar
    whitworth

    The tail lights really made them distinctive. It just had that 80’s idea of what tail lights should look like in a sci-fi movie.

  • avatar
    22_RE_Speedwagon

    Came home from high school one day to find one of these parked in my driveway. Keys on the kitchen table. I gave it a twice around the block as hard as I could without knowing whose it was or why it was there. Pretty anemic, even for a Tercel pilot like myself. (Sorry sis.)

  • avatar
    Johnster

    As I recall the Nissan Pulsar NX and the Toyota Corolla Sport were both a bit more expensive than the plain Honda CRX, so I went and bought a plain CRX.

    Another weird thing was that if you bought the wagon back, the whole wagon back lifted up to get to the rear storage compartment. It seems to me like it would have been better to have had a flip-up rear window instead.

  • avatar
    Higheriq

    I think a better competitor for the Pulsar NX would have the Honda ‘Lude, not the CRX.


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