Rare Rides: The 1988 Nissan Sunny Is Nearly a Sentra and Definitely All-wheel Drive

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
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rare rides the 1988 nissan sunny is nearly a sentra and definitely all wheel drive

Today’s Rare Ride comes to us — for the first time — from the nation’s capital. As we ponder what the owner was thinking, we’ll pore over a tidy Nissan Sunny imported from Japan. It’s rare, square, and almost exactly the same as the Nissan Sentra your aunt had in 1991. I’m really not sure.

Datsun first introduced vehicles wearing the Sunny nameplate back in 1966. Through four generations the car kept the Datsun name, only switching to Nissan for the fifth generation, which debuted in 1982. The Sunny/Tsuru replaced the Datsun 210 and was always called Sentra in North America. This B12 model was available in the United States from 1986 through 1990.

The only all-wheel-drive model the United States received was the wagon variant, and only early on. Nissan simplified model offerings over the years, and by 1990 there was only a coupe, sedan, wagon, and a two-door sedan — all in front-drive-only. Today’s Rare Ride is the Japanese domestic market version of the Sunny. It has all-wheel drive, low miles, and brougham pretensions.

A five-speed manual transmission puts the power down through all four wheels via one of seven different inline-four engines. I’m not sure which one powers this; perhaps one of the B&B is more enlightened?

The model-specific logos are a nice touch, and the front end is reminiscent of a Polish-manufactured FSO Polonez.

The claimed mileage of 30,000 would seem accurate given the pristine state of the interior. Five small persons fit in plum velour comfort, and will wonder once inside why you didn’t just buy a Sentra.

This 4WD Super Saloon E model came straight from the Sunny dealership chain in Tokyo.

Current ask is $4,950 on Craigslist. For the diehard Nissan collector, that might be the right kind of price to bring the Sunny home.

[Images via seller]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Writing things for TTAC since late 2016 from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio. You can find me on Twitter @CoreyLewis86, and I also contribute at Forbes Wheels.

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  • Namesakeone Namesakeone on Dec 28, 2017

    I wonder how much that former Sentra and this one are related... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85OysZ_4lp0

    • Bumpy ii Bumpy ii on Dec 29, 2017

      The Tsuru is a B13 platform, the model which succeeded this one.

  • Gtem Gtem on Dec 29, 2017

    I love this thing, it's a total nostalgia trip to the sea of boxy white JDM sedans that flooded the Russian Far East and Siberia in general in the mid 90s, many of them full-time 4wd models. Car runners in the 90s would ride trains from western Siberia into port cities with dollars in hand, and then drive these fresh-off-the-boat beauties back West, over a very harsh and sparsely inhabited landscape, often driving down frozen rivers (a lot of car running was done in the winter when the swampy unpaved roads were usable). Good money to be made, but at great risk. A break-down or mis-navigating and running out of gas could mean freezing to death. This was pre-import tariffs, with big profits for those that had the guts to partake in this gold-rush of used JDM vehicles. www.youtube.com/watch?v=LrnOBl_qX0Q

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    • JohnTaurus JohnTaurus on Dec 30, 2017

      @JohnTaurus Very interesting, thanks for the info. I had thought about buying cars at auction and exporting them to places like Russia that seem to have a lack of used cars to fill the demand. Thinking about used rentals, trade ins, etc. My personal code of conduct would require a mechanical/safety inspection, etc., even if its being exported.

  • Jeff NYC does have the right to access these charges and unless you are traveling on business or a necessity you don't have to drive or live in NYC. I have been in NYC a few times and I have absolutely no desire to go back. I can say the same thing about Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Houston where I lived for 29 years. A city can get too big where it is no longer livable for many. I was raised in West Houston near the Katy Freeway which is part of I-10. The Katy Freeway when I moved from Houston in 1987 was a 6 lane road--3 lanes on each side of the interstate with each side having side access roads which we called feeder roads for a total of 8 lanes. Today the Katy freeway has 26 lanes which include feeder roads. I went back to Houston in 2010 to see my father who was dying and lost any desire to go back. To expand the Katy Freeway it took thousands of businesses to be torn down. I read an article about future expansion of the Katy freeway that said the only way to expand it was to either put a deck above it or to go underground. One of the things the city was looking at was to have tolls during the peak hours of traffic. Houston is very flat and it is easier to expand the size of roads than in many eastern cities but how easy is it to expand a current road that already has 26 lanes and is one of the widest roads in the World. It seems that adding more lanes to the Katy freeway just expanded the amount of traffic and increased the need for more lanes. Just adding more lanes and expanding roads is not a long term solution especially when more homes and businesses are built in an area. There was rapid growth In Northern Kentucky when I lived in Hebron near the Northern Kentucky Cincinnati Airport. , Amazon built a terminal and facility onto the airport that was larger than the rest of the airport. Amazon built more warehouses, more homes were being built, and more businesses. Boone, Kenton, and Campbell counties in Northern Kentucky are constantly expanding roads and repairing them. Also there is the Brent Spence Bridge which crosses the Ohio River into Cincinnati that is part of I-71 and I-75 and major North and South corridor. The bridge is 60 years old and is obsolete and is in severe disrepair. I-71 and I-75 are major corridors for truck transportation.
  • Art_Vandelay It's not like everyone is topping their ICE vehicles off and coasting into the gas station having used every last drop of fuel either though. Most people start looking to fill up at around a 1/4 of a tank. If you constantly run the thing out of gas your fuel pump would probably be unhappy. If you running your EV to zero daily you probably bought the wrong vehicle
  • ToolGuy Imagine how exciting the automotive landscape will be once other manufacturers catch up with Subaru's horizontally-opposed engine technology.
  • FreedMike Oh, and this..."While London likes to praise its own congestion charging for reducing traffic and increasing annual revenues, tourism has declined..."The reason London's tourism numbers are down is that the city has resumed its' "tourist tax." And why did the tourist tax get reimposed? Brexit. https://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/tourist-tax-cost-millions-myth-hmrc-survey-foreign-visitors-spending-uk-b1082327.html
  • Dukeisduke Eh, still a Nissan. Nope.