Junkyard Find: 1987 Nissan Maxima Sedan

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1987 nissan maxima sedan
The Nissan Maxima of the 1980s remains one of my favorite Junkyard Finds, partly because it began the decade as a sporty rear-wheel-drive cousin to the Z-Car and ended it as a swanky front-wheel-drive pseudo-luxury machine… but mostly because these cars came stuffed full of the quirky futuristic technology that made Japanese cars so interesting during The Turbo Decade.Here’s a high-mile ’87 Maxima I spotted in an East Bay self-service yard last month.
We tend to think of odometer readings over the 300,000 mark as the kind of thing you’ll only see on Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, and Honda cars (with the occasional Volvo thrown in for good measure), but Nissan did a great job with the first generation of front-wheel-drive Maximas and they held together very well. This car racked up about 10,339 miles per year for 33 years, and I’ll bet it was still a runner when it showed up here.
One of the most endearing features of the US-market 1985-1988 Maxima is the no-proofreader-ever-checked-this hyphenation of the label of the SECU-RITY indicator lamp. I’m sure this started life as a single Japanese character, and then someone in Yokohama plugged in the English translation and made it fit. I’ve collected several dozen of these lights for my next stupid car-parts boombox project.
After all those years and all those miles, the original “In Case of an Accident” guide remained with the car to the end.
The Datsun 810 became the Datsun 810 Maxima became the Datsun Maxima became the Nissan Maxima during the 1978-1984 period, and throughout this time the car retained an engine closely related to the one in the Z-Car of the time. Here’s the VG30 V6 of the 300ZX (with slightly fewer horses), flipped 90 degrees and driving the front wheels.
Most of the high-mile cars I find in junkyards will be in decent condition inside, because the kind of owner who keeps up with all the maintenance also avoids trashing the upholstery. This car is no exception.
Today’s automotive world is filled with compromise. To get luxury and performance, you have to sacrifice value. Nissan disagrees.You’ll find links to 2,000+ more Junkyard Finds at the Junkyard Home of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™… and you should.
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2 of 25 comments
  • Analoggrotto The real question, how many years or months after the end of production will this vehicle be completely eliminated from the street? Neon lights, yellow spoiler covers, idiotic stripes, brazzers license plate frames, obnoxious exhausts and all.
  • Mike1041 Why buy a German car in the first place? You will get to know the service manager real well and you will be denied claims because “we make no mistakes in the Fatherland”.
  • Art Vandelay This thing has had a longer send off than The Rolling Stones
  • Kwik_Shift I wonder how friendly it would be as a daily driver in commuter traffic. At least Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing is more docile and even comes in manual.
  • Carsofchaos I like it. But then again, I think the Aztek and Vehicross are cool, too.