Junkyard Find: 1981 Datsun 810 Maxima by Nissan

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

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.

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.

More by Murilee Martin

Join the conversation
2 of 37 comments
  • 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!

  • Big Al from Oz Musk and Trump are of the same ilk, except Musk's IQ is a damn site higher than Trumps. Musk like Trump is only into himself. Musk doesn't care about Trump only Musk. Musk sees more dollars if Trump wins.Hey, I'm Big Al again!3
  • Rover Sig We have a car with two fake exhausts in the bumper, but a large shiny muffler visible hanging down on one side, not aligned with the fake exhaust exits. Horrendous. I had to paint the shiny muffler with high-temp black paint to make it less visible. Exhaust pipes were meant to be round and hang below the bumper, and they can be made quiet or loud as the engineers like. But fake exhausts rank down there with fake intake vents on the side of that old Buick.
  • EBFlex Of course it does. What a silly question
  • Buickman Elon is a phony.
  • The Oracle When elected, Trump will carve out massive loopholes for Elon and other donors.