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
    grzydj

    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
    Ubermensch

    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
    paxman356

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

    http://www.autoblog.com/2007/04/26/future-classic-1991-94-nissan-sentra-se-r/

    • 0 avatar
      JimR

      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
        otter

        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
    DJTragicMike

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

  • avatar
    JimR

    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
    fiatjim

    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
    loguesmith

    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
    sportyaccordy

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

    • 0 avatar
      MZ3AUTOXR

      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
    threeer

    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
    MZ3AUTOXR

    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
    oldlt43

    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
    greaseyknight

    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
    FuzzyPlushroom

    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
    Luper

    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
    tallnikita

    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
    MusicMachine

    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
    Randy

    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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