Junkyard Find: 1984 Nissan Maxima

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

Maximas of the ’80s, like their Toyota Cressida counterparts, were pretty reliable and held their heads above the scrap-value waterline for decades after all the early Sentras got crushed. We’ve seen this ’85 sedan with 5-speed, this gig-rig ’86 wagon with pleading note to the tow-truck driver and this super-weird ’86 sedan with brake fluid used as coolant and washer fluid in this series so far, and today we’re heading to the San Francisco Bay Area to see this last-year-of-rear-wheel-drive example.

This one has surprisingly low miles on the clock.

By 1984, the name-change from Datsun to Nissan was in its final transition year. These cars came with little Datsun badges and big Nissan badges (the Datsun ones have been pried off this car); for the 1985 model year, all U.S.-market Nissans would be Datsun-badge-free.

I recall the whole marque-renaming thing being puzzling at the time.

Just like the 810 that preceded it, this car has a 2.4-liter L24 straight-six engine and Z-car-derived suspension. A year later, the Maxima would be motivated by the front wheels and powered by a V6.

Many upscale Nissans would keep the weird phonograph-based “talking car” system for a few more years, but some models started getting solid-state voice units instead of the far cooler record-player types. Yes, I bought this one.

Do these stickers really prevent speeding tickets?

Japanese car ads during this period were far superior to the North American ones.

At Nissan, we make every drive Major Motion.

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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  • JimC2 JimC2 on Jul 15, 2015

    That really was one of the last Datsun-Nissan commercials. It stopped after "Maaaaaaajor motion, from Nissan!" and didn't finish with the quick "at your Datsun dealer."

  • MrMag MrMag on Jul 16, 2015

    Gotta say I've considered buying these before. But their age, and the fact that I don't see many anymore makes me concerned. Curious that this one has so few miles on it. I would expect at least 150k, if not more.

  • Geozinger Put in the veggie garden (Western Michigan, we still can get frost this late in the year) finished the remainder of the landscaping updates and hand washed both my beater Pontiac and the Town and Country! Going to the beach today...
  • Rochester I wouldn't obsess over the rate of change, it's happening whether we want it or not.
  • EBFlex At the summer property putting boats in the water, leveling boat lifts, cleaning the lots for summer, etc. Typical cabin stuff in the most beautiful place on the planet
  • Lou_BC I've I spent the past few days in what we refer to as "the lower mainland". I see Tesla's everywhere and virtually every other brand of EV. I was in downtown Vancouver along side a Rivian R1T. A Rivian R1S came off as side street and was following it. I saw one other R1S. 18% of new vehicles in BC are EV'S. It tends to match what I saw out my windshield. I only saw 2 fullsized pickups. One was a cool '91 3/4 ton regular cab. I ran across 2 Tacoma's. Not many Jeeps. There were plenty of Porches, Mercedes, and BMW's. I saw 2 Aston Martin DBX707's. It's been fun car watching other than the stress of driving in big city urban traffic. I'd rather dodge 146,000 pound 9 axle logging trucks on one lane roads.
  • IBx1 Never got the appeal of these; it looks like there was a Soviet mandate to create a car with two doors and a roof that could be configured in different ways.