By on January 19, 2021

1986 Nissan Maxima wagon in Colorado junkyard, RH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsEven as Toyota kept the Cressida a rear-wheel-drive first cousin to the sporty Supra (sales of that car continued here well into the 1990s), Nissan moved the formerly-Z-based Maxima to a front-wheel-drive platform for the 1985 model year. The new, roomier Maxima continued to be loaded with futuristic electronic gadgetry and a Z-Car engine, and sales of the wagon version continued all the way through the 1988 model year. Here’s a well-traveled ’86 Maxima wagon in a Denver-area car graveyard.

1986 Nissan Maxima wagon in Colorado junkyard, engine - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsIt’s flipped sideways here, but this is just about the same VG30 V6 that buyers of the 300ZX got in 1986 (152 horsepower in the Maxima, 160 in the 300ZX).

1986 Nissan Maxima wagon in Colorado junkyard, gearshift - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsAmericans hadn’t yet fallen completely out of love with manual transmissions by 1986, but most of these cars got two-pedal setups over here. 5-speed 1985-1988 Maximas do exist, though.

1986 Nissan Maxima wagon in Colorado junkyard, speedometer - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsIf you want to find 1980s cars with trip-to-the-moon-and-back odometer readings, you’ll need to look at Mercedes-Benz diesels. This Maxima made it to the moon and some of the way back during its 35 years on the road.

1986 Nissan Maxima wagon in Colorado junkyard, seat cloth - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe Colorado climate laughs at cloth interiors, even nice Japanese ones.

1986 Nissan Maxima wagon in Colorado junkyard, dash switches - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWhen translating from compact Japanese kanji characters to bulky English words in the 1980s, funny typography could ensue. I’ve got a big collection of these “SECU-RITY” indicator lights, and of course I grabbed this one. This car has the talking voice-alert system that made upscale Datsuns legendary a few years earlier, but it operates via solid-state digital gear rather than the amazing tiny-phonograph-based rig used in earlier Maximas.

1986 Nissan Maxima wagon in Colorado junkyard, rust - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThere’s rust in the usual spots, not as bad as what you’d see in Illinois or Vermont but enough to kill whatever modicum of value a faded high-mile wagon might have had.


In Japan, the V6 Bluebird was incredibly suave.


In Australia, the Bluebird Wagon got this strange video-game-themed clearance-sale pitch.


Today’s automotive world is filled with compromise. To get luxury and performance, you have to sacrifice value. Nissan disagrees!

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11 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon...”


  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    They drove the hell out of that thing.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    @Murilee, I always enjoy your writeups – thanks.

    Second picture: When we are all driving EV’s, will anyone miss vacuum hoses? [Or will future regulations result in a maze of *something* attached to the drive motors?]

    That Australian ad with Paul Newman is a good argument for taking a Tesla-style approach to advertising (i.e., do little to none).

  • avatar
    Mike Beranek

    When this car was new, I was a young punk working at a Quick-Lube type place. The oil filter on this car is on the back of the engine, under the exhaust manifold, and is surrounded by heater hoses and A/C lines. It was impossible to get from below, and everyone burned their forearms on the exhaust.
    Eventually, I did so many of these that I figured out a way to do the job painlessly. But it took a lot of burns to get there.

  • avatar
    CaddyDaddy

    …..”for taking a Tesla-style approach to advertising (i.e., do little to none).” Actually, that was H. Ford during the Model T production run. Ford relied on word of mouth only.

    The buyers of Teslas amaze me. For a group of people that used to buy Toyotas and Hondas for the quality leaps above GM, now they buy Teslas to virtue signal their one-up(wo)manship of environmental look at me-ism. Teslas are a religion, their quality is abysmal, their electronics are Mercedes grade junk and their build quality is soviet proud.

    I would rather go to NAPA and buy a roll ov vac. line and use a diagram to replace rather than deal with batteries and 100’s of connection points exposed to vibrations, heat / cold cycles and road grime.

  • avatar
    RangerM

    Is that a combination keypad to unlock the car? I’ve never seen one outside of a Fomoco product. (It’s still the best feature not widely adopted. Makes it easy to leave your keys/valuables inside the car at the beach)

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    There was the sedan version of this Maxima as a fleet vehicle at a company I was employed by in the 80’s. While it was a nice ride with nice accoutrements the interior volume was roughly equal to a Sentra.
    A Toyota Cressida packed in more value with a tad more room and the smooth well regarded I-6 and rear wheel drive.
    They also had a loaded Cimarron with the 2.8 mpi and the F-41 handling package. It wasn’t a bad ride but hardly worthy of the Cadillac brand.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    It was the ultimate F yuppies machine. Just another line Nissan screwed up. But which one didn’t they?

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