Junkyard Find: 1981 Datsun 810 Maxima by Nissan

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1981 datsun 810 maxima by nissan

The 1980s were confusing times for figuring out badges on U.S.-market Japanese cars.

You had the Toyota Corolla Tercel (which wasn’t related to the Corolla). You had the ever-shifting miasma of various Mitsubishi-based Chryslers. You had the Nissan Stanza Wagon (which was a non-Stanza Prairie at home). And you had all the brand bewilderment of the Datsun-to-Nissan changeover of the early part of the decade (to be fair, Detroit was doing the same sort of badging sleight-of-hand, e.g., front- and rear-wheel-drive Cutlasses in the same showroom).

The Datsun 810 became the Nissan Maxima during the 1981-1984 period, but it didn’t happen like flipping a switch; here’s a Datsun 810 with “by Nissan” and Maxima badging that I spotted in a Northern California wrecking yard a few months ago.

It’s still a Datsun, but just barely.

Not even 100,000 miles on the odometer. Did it sit forgotten in a garage for decades?

The interior is in decent shape, so the car probably didn’t spend 34 years fading in the California sun.

The 810/Maxima was similar to its Z-car cousin under the skin, though it got the 2.4-liter six instead of the 2.8-liter engine that went in the ’81 280ZX.

Did I grab the Voice Warning System box, which used a tiny phonograph record? Damn right!

The presence of this car’s keys in the junkyard means that it didn’t get grabbed against the owner’s will, but was most likely a trade-in or insurance total.

This is the first car that speaks to you!

In Japan, this car was the Bluebird 910, and it had class.

It was much cooler as a Bluebird SSS Turbo.

In Australia, it was sold as a luxury car that could deal with bumpy dirt roads.

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  • Robc123 Robc123 on Dec 22, 2015

    I had an '82. it was great, little rust, totally reliable, kept it for a very long time because it just wouldn't die. Loved the talking car bit too- your door is ajar... and its small compared to the '95. I think the successor is the 1-series.

  • Dolorean Dolorean on Dec 29, 2015

    "This is the first car that speaks to you!" Yawr Dawr is AH-jar. Yawr Dawr is AH-jar. To which, the wit he says, NO IT'S NOT, IT'S A DOOR!

  • Tassos What was the last time we had any good news from Ford? (or GM for that matter?)The last one was probably when Alan Mulally was CEO. Were you even born back then?Fields was a total disaster, then they go hire this clown from Toyota's PR department, the current Ford CEO, Fart-ley or something.He claims to be an auto enthusiast too (unlike Mary Barra who is even worse, but of course always forgiven, as she is the proud owner of a set of female genitals.
  • Tassos I know some would want to own a collectible Mustang. (sure as hell not me. This crappy 'secretary's car' (that was exactly its intended buying demo) was as sophisticated (transl. : CRUDE) as the FLintstone's mobile. Solid Real Axle? Are you effing kidding me?There is a huge number of these around, so they are neither expensive nor valuable.WHen it came out, it was $2,000 or so new. A colleague bought a recent one with the stupid Ecoboost which also promised good fuel economy. He drives a hard bargain and spends time shopping and I remember he paid $37k ( the fool only bought domestic crap, but luckily he is good with his hands and can fix lots of stuff on them).He told me that the alleged fuel economy is obtained only if you drive it like a VERY old lady. WHich defeats the purpose, of course, you might as well buy a used Toyota Yaris (not even a Corolla).
  • MRF 95 T-Bird Back when the Corolla consisted of a wide range of body styles. This wagon, both four door and two door sedans, a shooting brake like three door hatch as well as a sports coupe hatchback. All of which were on the popular cars on the road where I resided.
  • Wjtinfwb Jeez... I've got 3 Ford's and have been a defender due to my overall good experiences but this is getting hard to defend. Thinking the product durability testing that used to take months to rack up 100k miles or more is being replaced with computer simulations that just aren't causing these real-world issues to pop up. More time at the proving ground please...
  • Wjtinfwb Looks like Mazda put more effort into sprucing up a moribund product than Chevy did with the soon to be euthanized '24 Camaro.