Digestible Collectible: 1988 Nissan Pulsar NX SE

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn
digestible collectible 1988 nissan pulsar nx se

Various companies and trade groups have discovered that focusing marketing effort on a short period of time can generate significant buzz, and thus potential increased sales. Discovery Channel has “Shark Week.” Restaurants in various cities have Local Dining weeks. New York hookers have Fleet Week.

TTAC, in the same clickbaity manner, has “Sorta Obscure Twentyish-Year-Old Japanese Hatchback Week.” I’m not sure if I can repeat this next year, but this week has brought very rough examples of oddball Isuzu and Mazda hatches. Today, however, I have a personal favorite that isn’t one busted balljoint from the scrapyard.

It’s no secret that I’m a Datsun/Nissan fanatic. When counting only cars that actually ran while in my possession, I’ve owned more Nissans than any other make. This distinction is important due to the many non-running Civics and Miatas I’ve parted out. If I had the spare time and cash, I’d be tempted to fly to British Columbia and bring this 1988 Nissan Pulsar NX SE back home.

The “SE” is the special bit. While most Pulsars carried an anemic single-cam four cylinder, the SE had a 130 horsepower twin-cam CA18DE under the hood. In today’s world, that doesn’t sound like much, but that was impressive in the late ’80s. I haven’t seen production figures, but it seems that very few were imported. Personally, I’ve only encountered two of them in my life, one of which was in a junkyard.

The vinyl graphics on the flanks are a bit hokey, but appropriate for the times. The interior is impressively spotless, though the hard-wearing tweed looks less than plush. My kids wouldn’t be comfortable in that rear seat/shelf for more than the two miles to school, but that’s why I have a minivan.

I don’t know if I could bring myself to spend $6,500 on this, plus the costs involved in bringing it 2,500 miles to Ohio. I’ve always wanted to fly-and-drive-back-home a new-to-me car, but the border crossing concerns me.

Plus, I’d have to find a Sportbak.

[Photo credit: By Tx3 (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons]

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  • Matt Fink Matt Fink on Dec 15, 2015

    I had an 1988 NX SE (also in Columbus, OH!). Great when it was running! I too had lots of electrical problems. My SE had huge graphics along the side. Very 80's. Man I miss the T-tops.

    • Salguod Salguod on Dec 15, 2015

      Funny, Chris is in Columbus, you're in Columbus and so am I, although I bought my Pulsar in Cinci and moved to Detroit shortly after. The Pulsar was never here in Columbus.

  • Gabbychad Gabbychad on Jan 27, 2016

    I'm in CA and have this car. Been garaged for years now. Willing to sell.

  • ToolGuy CXXVIII comments?!?
  • ToolGuy I did truck things with my truck this past week, twenty-odd miles from home (farther than usual). Recall that the interior bed space of my (modified) truck is 98" x 74". On the ride home yesterday the bed carried a 20 foot extension ladder (10 feet long, flagged 14 inches past the rear bumper), two other ladders, a smallish air compressor, a largish shop vac, three large bins, some materials, some scrap, and a slew of tool cases/bags. It was pretty full, is what I'm saying.The range of the Cybertruck would have been just fine. Nothing I carried had any substantial weight to it, in truck terms. The frunk would have been extremely useful (lock the tool cases there, out of the way of the Bed Stuff, away from prying eyes and grasping fingers -- you say I can charge my cordless tools there? bonus). Stainless steel plus no paint is a plus.Apparently the Cybertruck bed will be 78" long (but over 96" with the tailgate folded down) and 60-65" wide. And then Tesla promises "100 cubic feet of exterior, lockable storage — including the under-bed, frunk and sail pillars." Underbed storage requires the bed to be clear of other stuff, but bottom line everything would have fit, especially when we consider the second row of seats (tools and some materials out of the weather).Some days I was hauling mostly air on one leg of the trip. There were several store runs involved, some for 8-foot stock. One day I bummed a ride in a Roush Mustang. Three separate times other drivers tried to run into my truck (stainless steel panels, yes please). The fuel savings would be large enough for me to notice and to care.TL;DR: This truck would work for me, as a truck. Sample size = 1.
  • Art Vandelay Dodge should bring this back. They could sell it as the classic classic classic model
  • Surferjoe Still have a 2013 RDX, naturally aspirated V6, just can't get behind a 4 banger turbo.Also gloriously absent, ESS, lane departure warnings, etc.
  • ToolGuy Is it a genuine Top Hand? Oh, I forgot, I don't care. 🙂