Junkyard Find: 1989 Nissan Stanza Sedan

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1989 nissan stanza sedan
By the 1989 model year, the weak-selling Nissan Stanza Wagon (aka Nissan Prairie) was gone from the United States, but the unrelated Nissan Stanza sedan continued to sell (poorly) through 1992. You didn’t see many of these cars back then, and they’re exceptionally rare Junkyard Finds today.Here’s an ’89 that I found in a Northern California self-service wrecking yard last summer.
Other than some body damage that may have occurred after this car entered the junkyard ecosystem, this Stanza is in nice shape for a 29-year-old car. The somewhat low mileage plus unfaded paint and upholstery suggest that it may have spent years forgotten in a garage somewhere in the Bay Area. Perhaps it was driven only to church on Sundays.
The “Auto-Metal” feature was considered pretty snazzy in 1989, though factory-issued CD players were starting to appear in cars by that point. No, the deck doesn’t detect the presence of a Slayer tape; it looks for the expensive Type IV “metal” cassette, which allowed higher recording levels than lesser tapes.
The Stanza car was based on the Nissan Violet (aka Auster aka Bluebird), which was considered a fairly substantial car in its homeland.
The 2.0-liter engine made 97 horsepower; curb weight was well under 3,000 pounds, so acceleration wasn’t too miserable by the standards of the time.
It’s made for fashion models? Approved of by fashion models? There’s no telling.
We wouldn’t be surprised if, next to the word “value” in the dictionary, there was a picture of the new Stanza!
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3 of 22 comments
  • Stereorobb Stereorobb on Dec 12, 2018

    havent seen one on the road in ages. last real presence of these on the road i can remember was when i was in high school back in the late 90s early 00s and they were already clapped and circling the bowl then. last one i remember seeing in the wild was a really rough one that had no plates, abandoned under a highway overpass that looked like a bum had been living in it. reason i remember it so well was because i was thinking about trying to get it to start, drive it home, and get it registered as my beater/hooptie car. this was back in 01..

  • SavageATL SavageATL on Dec 12, 2018

    I'm always mystified as to why the Stanza didn't sell well. It was the same size and price as myriad competitors like the Camry and Accord, with no glaring faults, but sold like moldy bread. Perhaps Nissan was using its import quota for the Maxima and Sentra. Was it not marketed enough? I think it was far enough in price from the Maxima as to not have the maxima eat its sales.

    • JimC2 JimC2 on Dec 12, 2018

      I think it just wasn't marketed very well. As used cars in the late eighties and early nineties, they had a very good reputation for good value and reliability, but they were hard to find (there weren't very many of them and owners tended to hold on to them). Now, used Hondas and Toyotas have long tended to command ummm generous prices, so that probably helped the Stanza's reputation as a reliable import "if you can find one for sale."

  • Tassos The EQS is the best looking BEV, better than even the only Tesla I would ever consider (the S) and more luxurious inside etc etcThe self driving features will come in handy when I'm 110 and my eyesight and reaction times start to suffer.But that's four decades away, and only Tim recommends 40 year old "used cars"
  • Tassos "Baby, Baby light my fire!""Oh God please give me a Kia Forte" --Janis Joplin
  • Tassos The fugly looks of any Subaru, and especially the non-sporty non-elegant, fugly, low-rent looks and interior of the WRX are alone a sufficient turnoff to never want to own one.One can be a 100% car enthusiast but ALSO demand a beautiful AND luxurious vehicle one can be truly proud of and which makes one very happy every time one drives it.The above is obviously totally foreign to Subaru Designers and managers.
  • Thehyundaigarage Am I the only one that sees a Peugeot 508?
  • Lou_BC I realized it wasn't EV's burning by the absence of the usual suspects.