Junkyard Find: 1983 Nissan Pulsar NX

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

Just about the time Datsuns were getting Nissan badging, the suits at Nissan HQ decided that they needed a cheap sporty car to compete with the likes of the Honda CRX and (cringe) Ford EXP in the American marketplace. A little cutting and pasting on the Sentra and voila! Pulsar!

The 70 horses of the E16 engine wasn’t much, but it was comparable to the competition. I remember reading a review of this car that suggested the best way to get the automatic to accelerate was to neutral-drop the transmission. Argh!

The crazy Sportbak option wasn’t available for a few more years, but the early Pulsars still managed to look science-fiction strange.

I’ve never heard anyone refer to a “Datsun Pulsar,” but Nissan was still slapping Datsun badges on most of its American products in 1983.

Such a red interior, though it’s not quite up to the whorehousey standards of the later Dodge Dynasty.

Genuine Datsun AM/FM sound! This option probably cost plenty back then.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Duster3604 Duster3604 on Jun 10, 2015

    I had a 1983 pulsar nx. A black one with the grey tape treatment. I was in my early 20's. I drove the wheels off of that car. Bought it with 100,000 mile, speedo broke at 180,000. Probably had 240,000 on it when all was said and done. Nothing but 1 exhaust system (factory nissan, looked great like it was powder coated black from nissan), two cat converter bolts and rubber hangers for the rest, 10 min install. Reg timing belt changes and valve adjustments. I broke 2 transmissions, my fault. There was actually a turbo version of this car that is forgotten but very important for nissan. It was their first turbo car and first and only front wheel drive turbo car that they manufactured. These cars had awesome leg room (front only, none in the rear at all) with reclining seats. Great gas mileage, and a/c that would make the windows condensate. I have been looking for another 83 for many years. They are all gone. I bought the last available nissan motorsports front spoiler. It made the car look totally different. That was one of the best cars I have ever owned. I would have put another tranny in it if not for the rust issues. Engine still ran like a top the day I took her to the junk yard. This car was completely toss-able and with the 5 speed wasn't slow considering what was out there in '83. I used to live in Point Pleasant Pa by the mountainside Inn. Every once in awhile I would catch a tourist with a Beemer, Benz, jag, Porsche, or vette. They didn't like the idea of a lowly datsun hanging with them. They would try to out run me but never could. I would run 80-90 mph on some of the straights of rte 32 by the Delaware canal. It was mostly the driver and knowledge of the road but the nissan was a very capable corner burner. I would probably trade my whole fleet for 2 of these in daily driver shape. Thanks for the memories.

  • Marques Marques on Dec 02, 2023

    My father had one of these. A black 1984 Pulsar NX with a 5-speed stick and a grey interior. Dad always kept it in pristine shape-that black paint was shiny even in the middle of the night. I swear I could still smell the Rain Dance carnauba wax! The only issue that car ever had was that it was never driven enough-it would sit for 10 days at a time! The Hitachi carburetor on it(and other Nissans of the time) were known to be troublesome. It went to the boneyard at 72K miles when a hole got punched in the block. By that time the Pulsar had long ceased production.

  • Jkross22 The contrived, forced, overproduced jokes and antics were fun 15 years ago, but it's been the same thing over and over since. The last few years of Top Gear were heading this direction and the 3 were phoning it in. They should have either done something completely different and tried something new. Instead they played it safe.
  • SCE to AUX "...identified during our rigorous validation process"Not so rigorous, if they ended up on dealer lots. 🙄
  • Ras815 Their naming scheme is almost as idiotic as having a totally separate Polestar brand for EVs that look exactly like...de-badged Volvos. But you can tell it came from the same idiocy.
  • Dukeisduke "The EX naming convention is used for the automaker’s new and upcoming EVs, the EX30 and EX90."Only upcoming when they can figure out the software.