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

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
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]

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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.

  • ToolGuy VW (marque not group) and Tesla very nearly switched positions on a YTD basis.
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  • Raymond Segura Can you tell me where I can get the rear bumper for 69 impala?
  • Art Vandelay some of the crazy numbers I get. Percentages look bigger with any fluctuations with low volume makes and brands leaving the market will see massive month over month changes. But what’s with Buick? I still see the occasional ad on TV and yet the drop is disproportionate even compared to all the other GM brands.
  • Master Baiter "There is no mandate for consumers to buy EVs, not in any country or state. That’s made up."Right. And you are not mandated to purchase a toilet that only uses 1.6 gallons/flush. You could choose to not have a toilet--just go in the woods, like the bears do.