By on July 15, 2015

14 - 1984 Nissan Maxima Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of 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.
06 - 1984 Nissan Maxima Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

This one has surprisingly low miles on the clock.

16 - 1984 Nissan Maxima Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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.

10 - 1984 Nissan Maxima Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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.

19 - 1984 Nissan Maxima Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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.

01 - 1984 Nissan Maxima Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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.

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44 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1984 Nissan Maxima...”


  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    I sorely miss the blocky, utilitarian interiors and exteriors of these 80s J-cars. Just look at that puckered-button velour upholstery, now that’s some high quality stuff right there. My unicorn would be a clean last model year Cressida that hasn’t been chopped up and run hard by some drift kids, and hasn’t spent too much time with a neglectful n-th owner. A clean ’99 Maxima or I30 would also suffice, one of the last classically proportioned 3 box Japanese sedans with a “pinnacle of the 90s” high quality interior and an unkillable drivetrain/suspension combo.

    The awkwardly tall, bloated, overstyled 2016 Maxima is the antithesis to this car in just about every way. An avalon/ES350 is a more faithful successor to the breed I suppose.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      The X80 Mark IIs are now old enough to import to the US, and the JZ-powered ones should be along later this year.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Not hard to find a nice 99 I30!

    • 0 avatar
      Lightspeed

      Well have I got a Cressida for you! Given just enough money to be foolish, I’d love to have the suite of pre-Lexus/Infiniti RWD I6 sedans the Maxima, Cressida (got it) and the Mazda 929. Don’t know why these appeal to me, they just do.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        The 929 was the largest and most formal of these options, and as such is the hardest to find!

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          1st gen 929 (88-91?) looks like a cross of a 1st gen Acura legend and a Cressida. Independent rear suspension, RWD. 160hp 18 valve 3.0L V6 standard, no spring chicken put not awful. The 1st gen Mazda MPV actually takes most of its mechanicals from the 929, with a rear end off their truck line. There was also an “S” variant with a DOHC valvetrain, 190hp. Both engines could be mated to a 5spd manual(!).

          2nd gen started in 1992, and was originally going to be the flagship for Mazda’s “Efini” brand (ala Lexus, Acura, Infiniti). Softer, automatic only. Looked like a jag, had crazy options like a solar panel powered interior fan that would vent on hot days to keep the cabin cooler.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Yep, 87-91 is correct, the JDM Luce model. There was a girl in high school early 00’s who had a brownish colored S model. I distinctly remember the black and gold rear badge “929S.”

            That gen 2 was just half-baked. They had some interesting ideas there, but the quality was not up to par with what they were doing. Of course the Enfini idea also spawned the Millennia which was promptly cost cut in year two or three of production.

            Look at all the radio buttons on this Luce Genteel!
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mazda_Luce#/media/File:Mazda_Luce_2.0_Genteel-X_dash.jpg

            You may also find interesting that the 929 in this form was sold as the Kia Potentia, all the way until 2001 in South Korea. They were popular there, as in 08-09 I saw them all the time.

          • 0 avatar
            Shinoda is my middle name

            Mazda’s flagship line in the US (counterpart to Infiniti, Lexus and Acura) was going to be ‘Millenia’, not ‘Efini’, IIRC. I believe they designed the car, then started to figure out how to set up the sales, dealership and marketing structure. When they saw the size of the necessary investment, they recoiled in horror, and just sold the ‘Millenia’ as an upscale Mazda model….

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            @Shinoda

            Nope, Enfini or Amati was to be the name of their brand, with the Eunos name used in other markets.

            Mazda had a financial crisis at that time (early 90’s), and they weren’t as big as Toyota and Honda, so were unable to launch their new luxury brand. It was a case of right idea, too late to execute. By the mid-late 90’s they were in such trouble that Ford owned 33% of them.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Ah Amati it was, my mistake.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        @Lightspeed

        I also share this sickness with you.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          You lie! You’re firmly in square Volvo and 3800 Brougham Regency land.

          Perhaps a happy medium is this Crown Royal Saloon.

          https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c4/1997-1999_Toyota_Crown_Royal_Saloon_rear.jpg

          Were some of the US-spec 929s a rotary? That would explain their absence.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I had an MY86 Cressida as an auction runner for months. Me likey, alot. It was just different and felt elegant. I once drove a 929 from one lot to another, felt a bit like a Brougham in the way it handled (and prob had similar power). The RWD Japanese sedans were somewhat rare when they were sold and are even rarer today so yes for S&G I’d like at least one of them (pref the Cressida).

          • 0 avatar
            bumpy ii

            Naah, Mazda was only sending the rotary to the US in the RX-7 by the ’80s. The 929 had a regular old V6; it just didn’t sell well.

            If you want broughamy Volvo brickishness, then the Crown Royal Saloon G 4000 is for you (except the tacky wheels; definitely needs the OEMs):
            http://www.japaneseclassicsllc.com/1990-toyota-crown-royal-saloon-vip.html

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Bumpy didn’t you have some hate for the 929 previously (like months ago) saying it was outdated even when new, and too expensive?

            Those wheels ARE awful on that Crown Royal. But that’s a lot of money for that thing, I think. It looks too similar to a Cressida.

            I still like the 929 better, in two-tone with these multi-spokes.
            http://brakehorsepower.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/mazda929-3.jpg

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Were the Crown Royal and Cressida the same thing?

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            Mmmmmmmmm Crown Royal…

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Nope! Per Wiki.

            “Although a totally different chassis and body, the S130 shares styling cues with the MX83 Cressida.”

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Look at this delicious Crown Estate Athlete they made until 2008 (1999 model shown)!

            http://img.favcars.com/toyota/crown/wallpapers_toyota_crown_1999_10.jpg

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Imagine sipping Crown Royal in your [parked] Toyota Crown Royal…

          • 0 avatar
            bumpy ii

            The Crown was the next size up from the Cressida/Mark II.

            I don’t hate the 929, but it was squashed out of the US marketplace by the Japanese premium brands. It lacked the prestige and performance to go along with price tag.

            That Crown estate looks like a bugeye E320 wagon behind the nose. The wheels are almost identical to the ones on the later Infiniti G20.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            I had a crazy early morning taxi ride to the Tolmachevo airport in Novosibirsk in a late 80s Toyota Crown “Royal Saloon G Supercharger.” The car was pretty beat, but still had plenty of get up and go with that small displacement supercharged mill. neat little green light on the dash lit up when the supercharger clutch was engaged when the cabbie punched the throttle.

            Supremely comfortable velour seats and soft suspension to waft over broken up Siberian roads. Add in blaring techno and the cabbie’s chain smoking to stay awake on the graveyard shift, it was quite an experience.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Datsun had earned a rust legacy that’s why it got changed. You could polish out scuffs on those black bumpers with shoe shine.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      I used to push around shopping carts with my 1990 Civic Wagon in highschool, bring back unpainted black bumpers! Oh and silver painted steel wheels without hubcaps while we’re at it (CRV and Forester still have these).

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      The reason I was given when I worked for Nissan was that they were uncertain of the brand’s success in the U.S. at launch and didn’t want a failure to tarnish the Nissan name. Once they had a sure foothold, they changed it to Nissan to match the home market.

    • 0 avatar
      1st_one

      I recall reading somewhere that they assumed that name “Nissan” was too Japanese for the American market and Datsun was easier to pronounce.

  • avatar
    banerjba

    Excellent cars and this one looks pretty good for 30 years. I love the decadent plush and colour-matched interior – no GM grey mouse fur here.

    My favourite Maxima was the next one after this – even blockier styling and a somewhat space age interior.

    Cressida of this gen was awesome too.

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    Wow, a tape counter. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one in a car before.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    What a horrible location for the cruise switch! But that whole big assembly would make stealing the radio not worthwhile. The last years of the Japanese tufting happening here!

    Is the red thing parked behind it A) a Legend or B) a 929?

  • avatar
    skor

    Your mention of the Cressida really brings back memories. A relative had a mid 80s Cressida that we used take a trip to the Jersey Shore. I was given the driving duties. I was astonished on how much better that Cressida was than my father’s Ford Tempo. I know that the two cars were not in the same class, but the Cressida was really an eye-opener. For the life of me, I couldn’t understand why people were still buying American cars in those days.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      They purchased American cars because they were loyal! It’s what their parents did (their only choice at that time), and what they were taught to do. Support American cars, even as they burn you over and over – you keep going back! It’ll be different this time.

      Have you driven a Ford, lately?

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      You could probably buy three Tempos for what the Cressida cost. Initial purchase price was a considerable factor in the days of double-digit interest rates on auto loans and states that indexed taxes or registration fees to purchase price. American cars may have been junk, but at least they were cheap junk.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        This is true. The Tempo GL was advertised (per Ford dealer video) in competition to the Hyundai Excel, and maybe the Yugo IIRC. Super cheapo. And 4×4 optional!

        Found it, and you can bet I watched both super corny parts a couple years ago. I think I enjoyed a wine while I did so.
        https:// http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FaRsba-cPGI

        P.E.P!

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Also, don’t forget that those were the days of the voluntary import quotas, so you were paying just MSRP for the popular Japanese cars *if you were lucky*. So they were even MORE expensive than they would seem just looking at MSRP.

      • 0 avatar
        Lightspeed

        A bit of research on my 90 Cressida showed Canadian price new of $36,000CDN. If anyone can confirm?

  • avatar
    319583076

    The ubiquitous paper double-barrel iodized salt packet shuffled into shredded remnants of the wiring harness is redolent of Jackson Pollock – if he were a post-post-modern photographer with a penchant for Warhol.

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    Will this be the only article tagged with “Wildebeest Ballz”? Cuz that’d be a shame.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    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.”

  • avatar

    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.

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