By on July 11, 2012

In response to a comment regarding Nissan’s social media plans for product development, and the revival of the B13 Sentra SE-R, I felt that I should share this nugget of gold with any readers adventurous enough to go marauding in Mexico in pursuit of a well-preserved sport compact.

Once upon a time, a friend of mine was dating a Mexican national, and had planned to bring back a mint air-cooled Beetle to turn into some kind of Baja off-road racer. I had always been interested in the Mexican version of the B13 Nissan Sentra, known as the Tsuru after reading Sport Compact Car’s infamous “Nissan Tsuru Review”  (perhaps one of the formative pieces that made me want to write about cars)

A little digging around online (and my poor High School-level Spanish) led me to find that the Sentra SE-R had continued on years after its 1991 demise. The Tsuru GSR-2000 was essentially the legendary B13 SE-R with a funny name. They tended to be in the $3,000-$5,000 range a couple years back, but the end of my friend’s relationship put my plans to rest before logistical issues could torpedo them for good.

Today’s comment led me to Google search again, and prices haven’t moved much at all. SE-R’s of any stripe are impossible to find in the snowbelt (save for the impostor, QR25 powered versions) and the rest seem to have been turned into race cars. If I had some time, a trailer and no semblance of financial responsibility, I’d be tempted to head down and bring one back with me. You can’t even get a decent Civic for 38,500 pesos!


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30 Comments on “How To Buy A New(er) B13 Nissan Sentra SE-R For $2,887...”

  • avatar

    I had a ’92 (used) when I lived in Houston and it was a hoot to drive. Really had a problem with alignment though. Hiway speeds had motor spinning at 4 grand all day long and that got tiring.
    Also ran into the problem with the 5th gear synchro jumping out after a while. Found enough info on the internet and fixed myself. Really glad when I finally sold it though.

    • 0 avatar

      I had a ’93 SE-R and loved everything about it. Mine also had the 5th gear syncro issue (which I didn’t know about until just now) and some rust issues, so I sold it. I really regret not fixing it, as no car since then has been as much fun to me. If someone wants to set up a gray market import service for these, I’ll be your first customer.

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        I think my ’92 is the last SE-R in the world without the 5th gear popout. I do sometimes have to double-clutch to get into reverse, though.

      • 0 avatar

        I think I did my tranny repair in ’99 and I held onto those old parts for a keepsake until my last move where they eventually got lost. I was sorta proud of the fact I did that all myself.

  • avatar

    One of the best cars I owned! Bought a 1991 SE-R straight out of college…understated, but man, what fun! The comparisons to a (then) modern-day equivalent to the 2002 weren’t far off (having also owned a 2002!). Low weight, decent power…5 speed and not much else.

  • avatar
    Japanese Buick

    I had a 93 Sentra SE. It was basically the SE-R without any of the actual go-faster parts. A cheaper SE-R imposter basically, complete with the wing. I bought it because I thought the price delta between it and the real thing wasn’t justified. There’s probably a reason why I got rid of it after only about 60K miles, the shortest amount of time I’ve ever kept a car. Replaced it with a Miata that I kept for 15 years.

    • 0 avatar

      I had this same car. Mine was red. I loved everything about that car. I loved the way it revved, the 5-speed, the interior. I bought it when I was in college and then traded it for a 2nd Gen MR-2 after graduation, when I had my first real job, because I wanted to feel like a big shot.

      I really should have kept the Sentra. Trading it was one of my biggest automotive regrets ever. And that’s saying a lot.

  • avatar

    Wouldnt importation be a problem? Plus there is the whole issue of traveling to, around, and out of Mexico. I would rather take my chances with the beam suspension B14. Get a cheap XE and just swap in an SR20… the whole swap is maybe $1000, and those cars are about the same.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      15-year-old cars can come into Canada, but they have to be 25 to settle in the U.S. Honestly, it would be easier to just put the car in a container and boat it up to Vancouver rather than deal with two border crossings, brutal civil war, etc.

      The B14 is, well, the B14.

      • 0 avatar
        Kevin Jaeger

        I’ve imported cars into Canada from the USA and that was pretty easy. I’m not sure how much harder it would be to drive one up from Mexico, but I’d have a go at it for the right deal.

        I’m not sure the SE-R is it, though.

  • avatar

    I think the Tsuru GSR 2000 – the trim you want with SR20DE motivation – was only sold through 1995, one year longer than the near-identical ’91-’94 Sentra SE-R. The Tsuru still on sale today is just a taxi-grade, no-frills 1.6L four-door model B13.

    The SE-R drivetrain is an easy, easy swap into a 1.6L example. No clean SE-Rs around? Just find a solid B13 shell and a rusty or wrecked SE-R, NX2000, or Infiniti G20 donor car for the engine/trans. Then source corresponding hubs/axles/misc, and have fun.

    I just got back from a 3,300-mile road trip in my 198k-mile ’92 SE-R, one that included two SCCA RallyCrosses and many WOT trips up Rocky Mountain passes. The engine will outlast the rest of the car many times over. As long as Mexico keeps turning out rust-free B13 shells, we can cobble together clean homebrew SE-Rs until the world runs out of oil.

  • avatar

    My father claims he’s holding on to his 91 because he wants to get antique plates for it. He got it just when I was learning to dive and never let me (or Mom, for that matter) touch it. Looking back, that’s probably why it’s still in the family.

  • avatar
    Rollo Grande

    It’s been about 10 years since i worked in Mexico, but if I remember correctly the GSR2000 came as a four-door as well. Could have just been owners changing the badging, but I remember looking closely at the ones I saw and they seemed legit.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Go to Mexico to buy a car? Completely insane, go for it.

  • avatar

    Free room available to any TTAC’er that has the ghanas to pull this off. I’ll have a posh OEM funded apartment in Santa Fe (Districto Federal) while you search.

  • avatar

    A word of caution…

    The DOT & EPA advise that although a nonconforming car (safety & emissions) may be conditionally imported, the mods required to bring it into compliance may be so extensive and costly that it may be impractical or even impossible to achieve such compliance.

    Then again, some vehicles are altogether banned from importation… ’80s & ’90s air cooled VW Beetles, I’m looking at you. >8(

  • avatar

    It seems like Ford started moving away from the over use of “GT” in the late ’80s to not delute the Mustang GT or future (?) Ford GT.

    This is also the time GM began pouring it on like maple syrup on pancakes.

    edit: wrong thread…

  • avatar

    “1991 demise”? If a true fan, one should know full well that the USA b13 was produced from 1991-94. 1991 was the debut year, not demise.

  • avatar

    As much fun as the B13 was, it’s probably a lot simpler at this point to pick up a B14 200SX or SE. Those things have better chasiss rigidity and handling, despite the rear beam axle… and they don’t bottom out quite as easily.

    A manual two-door B14 with the SR20 is still a hoot-and-a-half, even if it’s not quite as sexy as the “Classic”.

  • avatar

    Still got the ’93 SE-R that I drove home from the dealer in May 1993! I love it, love it, love it.

  • avatar

    My ’92 SE-R remains the best car I ever owned. It sat on a dealer lot forever because it had ZERO options – including A/C. But I was a young autocrosser; A/C delete was a feature, not a bug, to me. If memory serves, it weighed 2170 pounds with half a tank of gas (don’t quote me on that – it’s been awhile).

    I got a set of KYB shocks and autocrossed the hell out of that car, taking it to my one and only SCCA Solo 2 Nationals. Most of that autox time was spent on three wheels – the SE-R loved to lift the inside rear.

    When the lack of A/C began to annoy me, I sold the car to a Brit with only 64K miles on the clock. What a mistake.

  • avatar

    I, too, considered buying a “new old” Beetle from Mexico… in my case, I was approached by a dealer in Arizona, who would buy Beetles, register them as “Classic 1970” models in Arizona, and then sell them for $12,000 or so… which seemed kinda steep, considering the Beetle only cost $7,000 new in Mexico, so the guy was basically charging you five grand to get you a “U.S. certified” vehicle! In the end, I bought a used Subaru Impreza… which I consider to be the spiritual heir to the Beetle (and, ironically, the powerplant is now frequently used in old VW vans).

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Those later Mexican Beetles aren’t all that great anyway. You do get a newer body, etc, but the parts and material quality was not very good. I know of someone who bought one, and ended up having to do a lot more work on it than one might expect for a ten-year-old car.

  • avatar

    Every time I see this car I think of the design and how it looks like a modern retro a datsun 510 bluebird.

  • avatar

    I would loooove to bring a brand new MkIV Jetta to the U.S. Anyone have a contact or know someone who knows how to do it without paying an arm and a leg? Ship it without an engine? Take the car apart and ship parts separately? There must be a way.

  • avatar

    I had a used ’92 SE-R in college. It was fun to drive but the build quality was awful. I had the 5th gear synchro problem, failing clear coat and springs sticking through the fabric of the front seat poking me in the back. Oh yeah, it caught on fire in the engine compartment while I was driving it (electrical fire) and was totalled. The ’93 Prelude VTEC I replaced it with was much funner, more refined and better built. I can’t believe people are still buying these 90’s pocket rockets. They aren’t very good cars by todays standards.

  • avatar

    I bought my 02 SE-R new in April 92 and it’s sitting in the driveway right now. It, and I, returned yesterday from a 1500 mile trip (the second such trip this Summer) including much 80 and some 90 MPH cruising. Loves mountain roads! Still tracks straight as an arrow, very stable and safe feeling, the SR20DE motor only feels better the faster it goes – it’s flat wonderful at 90+. My car is unmolested, never modded, never raced, still runs 14 inch rubber (this year Bridgestone seems to have finally abandoned me on Potenza RE960 185/60 or 195/60’s I had become fond of) and I wouldn’t change a thing. Period. Yes, some rust. Needs paint. Don’t care. Happily I never had 5th gear popout. Still has original OEM exhaust system front to back! Nissan completely screwed up when the SR20DE went away but it must have been quite expensive to build. I also think I will hold onto it till it can wear antique plates. That’ll be a hoot.

  • avatar

    Hi, guys im new here but i can tell you is that these 2000gsr or 2000 gran sport racing tsurus were made from 91-96 im getting one with mexico tags oviously up to date new tags hehe i had a 1998 b13 tsuru gs1 the base nice car awsome 4speed and i had it go passed the odo reader hehe it had 1millon 200something on it this and one rebuild on it this was 2 months ago i sold it to come back to the us and now the person i soldit to (a buddy of mine) wercked it mmm a shame i had it for 3 year i wish i still had it and you cant make them legal here i done tried with a chevy astra (opel astra europe) and chevy swing (opel swing)

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