Junkyard Find: 1987 Nissan Maxima Sedan

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
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.
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.

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  • ChristianWimmer The interior might be well-made, but the design is just hideous in my opinion. It’s to busy and there’s no simplistic harmony visible in it. In fact I feel that the nicest Lexus interior ever could be found in the original LS400 - because it was rather minimalistic, had pleasing lines and didn’t try to hard. It looked just right. All Lexus interiors which came after it just had bizarre styling cues and “tried to hard” if you know what I mean.
  • THX1136 As a couple of folks have mentioned wasn't this an issue with the DeLorean? I seem to recall that it was claimed you could do a 'minor' buff of the surface and it would be good as new. Guess I don't see why it's a big deal if it can be so easily rectified. Won't be any different than getting out and waxing the car every so often - part of ownership, eh.
  • ToolGuy This kind of thing might be interesting in a racing simulator.
  • FreedMike Hmmm, electric powered vibrations. Is Dodge finally taking female buyers seriously?
  • MrIcky /Checks date on his calendar- nope, not April 1st.I have a transducer in my home theater seat for sub-bass. Not sure if this is patent worthy.