By on March 5, 2012

You see a lot of early-90s Sentras in the junkyard these days, most of them having become too beat to be worth fixing when something breaks, but you don’t run into a lot of junkyard SE-Rs. The question in this case is: are we looking at a real SE-R?
The spoiler and trunk emblem look correct…
The engine is gone, which is what you’d expect from a factory hot rod in a self-service yard in which all four-cylinder engines are the same price, regardless of vehicle.
But hold on a minute! Didn’t all SE-Rs come with disc brakes on all four corners?
So, we’re looking at a regular ’91 Sentra with an SE-R trunklid, or a real SE-R with a drum-brake conversion. Which do you think is more likely?

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27 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1991 Nissan Sentra SE-R, Maybe...”

  • avatar

    It’s a fakey do. The SE-R had provisions for rectangular fog lights and a different front lip, and the disc brakes that you obviously mentioned.

    You can still get the SE-R emblem from your local Nissan dealer for about $19.00.

  • avatar

    I still can’t get over seeing this old Japanese iron so devoid of rust. Absolutely unheard of here in the mid-west, unless it is a garage queen.

  • avatar

    The front air dam and bottom cladding all around are different, not an SE-R.

    • 0 avatar

      The 1991-1992 SE-R had the same front bumper and contrasting grey rocker panels as the 1.6L models. The 1993-1994 SE-R got the slightly bigger front air dam.

      Bonus fooler: the 1993-1994 Sentra SE was a two-door 1.6L trim that got just about all the cosmetics and interior trim of a SE-R. That one is a real junkyard double-take.

      • 0 avatar

        Not an SE-R – the drum brakes are the sure giveaway. The door trim panels, which are darker than the rear quarter trim panels, also appear to be from a 91-92 SE-R. Some early 1991s did come with the accordion shift boot, but they still had the leather knob, which this one doesn’t have.

        My ’93 SE-R is in my garage slowly getting a rod bearing replacement and overall freshening. It’s the only new car I’ve bought and I never want to get rid of it.

  • avatar

    That’s pretty funny… I’m sure those badges were put on 15 years ago.

  • avatar

    The uniform paint fade (red Nissans of this vintage often turn pink) in the license plate area and conventional trunk lock cylinder tell me it never had the quad-taillight finisher enjoyed by the SE-R and GXE trims. The rubber shift boot is another clue, as the SE-R had a leather boot. A close-up of the tach could tell you if it had the SE-R’s screaming (for 1991) 7,500 RPM redline.

    I’ve stripped a red B13 Sentra SE-R parts car bare to keep my other red B13 Sentra SE-R and my Infiniti G20 going. Looks like a pretty straight B13 coupe in a sporty color combination. Sadly, this is peak crushing season for 1991-1994 Sentras, as they’ve hit that “just junk it” age.

  • avatar

    I want to meet the guy bragging about the “SR20” he swapped into his Sentra.

  • avatar
    Sammy B

    agree w/ all the other Classic nuts on here. The drum brakes are a 99% certain indication of the GA model, but the final proof would be a check of the tach.

    I love me some SR20DE goodness (even though this almost certainly is not). I’ve had the pleasure of driving two B13 SE-Rs, a B15 SE (w/ the performance pack that got you the LSD) and currently drive a P11. Unfortunately not a G20T, but i’m very happy w/ it as my daily [just turned 91K miles!]

  • avatar

    Murilee, if that car was in a Denver junk yard, it could have been mine!

    I bought a ’91 Sentra SE when I lived in California. Red, 5-speed, with the trunk spoiler.

    I moved to Colorado in the summer of ’93 and immediately traded it in on a Honda Accord.

    Don’t know what happened to the Sentra after that, but it certainly could be the car in the photo, other than the SE-R badge on the trunk.

  • avatar

    Sentra SE-R: the poor man’s Civic Si.

    • 0 avatar

      While the Civic certainly gets a lot of the fanboy attention, it was down on HP and Torque compared to the SE-R. I cross shopped both (and others) before I bought the SE-R. The SE-R was a better performance car.

  • avatar

    My first car straight out of college was a 1991 SE-R…man, did I love driving that thing. That’s one of the ones that Nissan got right.

  • avatar

    Going with the rest – SE-R had disc all the way around.

    But I did have an SE-R in this color. First new car I ever purchased. Certainly a spiritual successor to the BMW 2002 (which I also owned at one point.)

    Too bad Nissan went to the 200SX as a successor. It’s all been downhill for the Sentra from there.

  • avatar

    Brought back memories. Had a ’91 SE-R after driving my ’74 RX-4 into the ground and loved the little Nissan. Got it to 200,000 miles and sold it to a fellow officer who gave it to his son to use as a commuter car in Tucson.He drove it for a couple of years and then gave it to a relative in the interior of Mexico where, as far as I know,it’s still chuggin’ along. It looks like the only thing that’s going to kill it is to be caught in a crossfire between government troops and the cartels.

  • avatar

    I would bet it is a SE with SE-R badges. A friend of mine has a SE with spoiler just like that. They are great cars, decently sporty,love to rev, and get 30+ MPG.

  • avatar
    Diesel Fuel Only

    I had an acquaintance once who bought a used BMW 3 series and ordered an M3 badge and a few other bits off of e-bay – viola, a much more prestigious car!

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    The B-pillar sticker would tell you, if there’s anything left of it. This one definitely looks to be a badge job, though.

  • avatar

    Worryingly, the last B13 I saw – flat black, with this wing and the expected factory five-spokes; may or may not have been an SE-R once – was also the *worst-sounding* of any car I’ve heard in quite some time. Could simply be Lowell’s influence on older cars, or it could be a reminder of the relative rarity of these cars today… your call.

  • avatar

    Murilee — Also interesting and even more rare than the SE-R is the ’91-’93 NX2000. Same SR20DE engine, chunky sway bars, limited-slip diff of the SE-R. But with sunshine streaming through the open T-tops! Okay, the rest of it looked like a shapeless ovoid, but I still miss my ’91.

  • avatar

    I don’t care. That generation Sentra with 1.6 and stick was such a fun car. I just rid of my old 2002 and this was the direct replacement.

  • avatar

    I had an ’87 Sentra 5 spd. W/o question, the best car I’ve owned. It cheerfully racked up 256k mi. before it was rear-ended. :(

  • avatar

    I was a proud owner of a black 91 Nissan Sentra SE-r (new)… and it had extra tail light inserts that cover the trunk lid on each side of the license plate… I would say this car has badge envy…

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