Junkyard Find: 1986 Nissan Maxima Station Wagon

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

One thing I love about early-to-mid-1980s Nissans is the combination of futuristic technology with endearing Japanese-to-English translations. We’ve seen a few Maxima s in this series, including this rear-wheel-drive ’82 Datsun Maxima and this puzzling “Brake Fluid EVERYWHERE” ’86 Maxima. On a recent trip to California, I found this rare Maxima station wagon at an Oakland self-serve yard.

This was just a few years before the Infiniti brand hit these shores, and the Maxima (like the Toyota Cressida) was seeming less luxurious compared to the competition as the decade of the 1980s wore on.

I found an excellent addition to my collection of heartfelt notes to tow-truck drivers in this car.

The paint is faded, but the interior isn’t so bad.

A powerful rebuttal to the notion of compromise.

As always, the US got the most boring commercials for Japanese cars.

WHOOOOOOSH! Super Sonic Suspension!

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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  • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Aug 02, 2014

    youtube.com/watch?v=f5lpl5lYA3w Max always looked after his sister. His eyes were fixated through the darkness on the black pavement of US50-E dimly illuminated by the Maxima's aged headlamps. His right hand was bleeding through the makeshift bandage and he felt the cool wind blow through his scraggly black hair. Shelia lay slumped against the passenger door in the passenger seat. Her baby started crying from the booster seat behind Max which caused Shelia to stir. She turned and sat up in the seat. "What, what time is it?" She asked. "Don't know, still the night". Max replied without breaking his concentration. "How long have I been out?" "Since we left" Max replied coldly. "Why'd you have to hit him!" she shrieked as Sheila punched her brother in the arm. Max leaned to the side a bit and then turned and looked at her battered face. "Look!" He locked eyes with her. "You called me and I got you. What else is there to say?". Sheila wiped the tears from her bruised cheeks and took several deep breaths. "I have to feed the baby, Max. Its been hours" she said very calmly. Max again turned his attention to the road. "We can't, we have to get to Aunt Jenny's before the sun comes up" "Max..." she said as she took a deep breath. "The baby". The Maxima decelerated and slowly pulled onto the side of the road. Max left the headlamps on but turned off the car. He opened the door to the first stand he had experienced in nearly four hours and Shelia made her way around to the rear door of the wagon. "Sheila, get in on the passenger side, don't want you to get hit" "By what traffic, Max?" she said as she came around to the driver's side rear door. Max watched as she pulled her six month old child from the dingy child safety seat and held him close. Shelia gently sang to him the song Aunt Jenny had sung to her: "Hush, little baby, don't say a word, Mama's gonna buy you a mockingbird. If that mockingbird don't sing, Mama's gonna buy you a diamond ring..." Max pulled a pack of Pall Malls from his left pocket and pulled a cigarette from the half crushed container. He held his bandaged hand over it as he lit the cigarette with a gas station grade orange colored lighter. He walked away from the car as Sheila sat down in the driver's seat to feed her son. The mountainous landscape was beginning to ever slowly light up as dawn slowly approached. Max felt his smoke blow back on him as he puffed into the wind. Shelia looked up from her son to Max's shadow was cast long against the shoulder. She smiled knowing at least one man in this world would never hurt her, or her son. "How far do you think we are from the farm?" She called out. Max walked back toward the car. "Keep your voice down Shelia". He walked to the driver door and looked down at her. "I saw a sign that said we're nearing Placerville, so we're not too far off". "Max, what happens; What happens if he comes back?" Shelia asked as she looked down at the ground. Max scratched his goatee and smiled. "I told you he's not ever comin' back". The sun was starting to rise as Shelia put her sun back in the child's seat and shut the door. Max decided to ride shotgun and catch some sleep as Sheila sat down to start the car, which did not turn over. She kept turning and turning the key but it would not budge. She began screaming obscenities at the car and Max put his hands over his face and jovially started laughing at their luck. "Keeping it classy eh sis?" Max remarked smiling ear to ear which broke Shelia's grimace. "What do we do Max?" He smiled at her. "We walk on to Placerville, can't be more than two or three miles. I have a friend in Diamond Springs who played bass me in The Devil's Pals. If we can get to a phone maybe he can come get us" Max said as he exited the passenger door. "What about my car!" she yelled to him. "Its Chinese refrigerators now, sis" he said as he pulled open the rear passenger door to get his backpack. "No, no, no, wait" she said as she scribbled a note and taped it to the window. Max came around to the driver's door with an open gallon of water container. "This is water?" he asked. "Yeah, we kept having to refill the radiator" she replied. "Finally something's going our way" he said happily as he took a gulp of water from the container. Sheila held her son as Max walked down the shoulder in front of them. Slowly the car left their view as the bright warmth of dawn swept over them. So they beat on, shoes against the pavement, borne back ceaselessly into their past. (There are three Easter egg type references, can you spot them all? -28CL)

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    • Matador Matador on Aug 27, 2014

      @nickeled&dimed I think yours is a more accurate story. I would have assumed the car never made it out of high school, though. That said, I still like 28's version better. It makes me feel more emotions. A Nissan Maxima wagon does not create emotions, though. Both are excellent!

  • Spartan Spartan on Aug 02, 2014

    I liked these models, but I prefer the refresh of the 1987 model of this same generation.

  • Ronin The very asking of the question "Are Plug-In Hybrids the Future?" is an interesting one. Because just 2 or 3 years ago we'd be asking- no, asserting- that E cars are the future. We're no longer asking that question.
  • Peter Benn There apparently were some K-code 4-dr sedan Fairlanes. Collectible Automobile Apr 2024 has found a '63 500 with HD 3/spd.
  • Mia Hey there!I recently stumbled upon the Crack Eraser DIY Windshield Repair Kit (check it out here: https://crackeraser.com/collections/diy-windshield-repair-kits) and decided to give it a shot on a small chip in my windshield. I have to say, it worked like a charm! Super easy to use, and it saved me a trip to the professionals. If you're dealing with a similar issue, this kit is definitely worth considering. 😊
  • Rust-MyEnemy Whoa, what the hell is wrong with Jalop1991 and his condescension? It's as if he's employed by Big Plug-In or something."I've seen plenty of your types on the forums....."Dunno what that means, but I'm not dead keen on being regarded as "A type" by a complete stranger"" I'm guessing you've never actually calculated by hand the miles you've driven against the quantity of gas used--which is your actual miles per gallon."Guess again. Why the hell would you even say that? Yes, I worked it out. Fill-to-fill, based on gas station receipts. And it showed me that a Vauxhall Astra PHEV, starting out with a fully charged PHEV battery, in Hybrid mode, on my long (234-mile) daily motorway daily commute, never, over several months, ever matched or beat the economy of the regular hybrid Honda Civic that I ran for a similar amount of time (circa 5000 miles)."You don't use gasoline at all for 30-40 miles as you use exclusively battery power, then your vehicle is a pure hybrid. Over 234 miles, you will have used whatever gas the engine used for 200 of those miles."At least you're right on that. In hybrid mode, though, the Astra was using battery power when it wasn't at all appropriate. The petrol engine very rarely chimed in when battery power was on tap, and as a result, the EV-mode range quickly disappeared. The regular hybrid Civic, though, deployed its very small electric reserves (which are used up quickly but restore themselves promptly), much more wisely. Such as when on a trailing throttle or on a downward grade, or when in stop-start traffic. As a result, at the end of my 234 miles, the Civic had used less gas than the Astra. Moreover, I hadn't had to pay for the electricity in its battery.I look forward to you arguing that what actually happened isn't what actually happened, but I was there and you were not."Regardless, that you don't understand it appears not to have stopped you from pontificating on it. Please, do us all a favor--don't vote."You really are quite unpleasant, aren't you. But thanks for the advice.
  • Tassos Jong-iL Electric vehicles are mandated by 2020 in One Korea. We are ahead of the time.