Junkyard Find: 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1986 nissan maxima wagon

Even 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.

It’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).

Americans 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.

If 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.

The Colorado climate laughs at cloth interiors, even nice Japanese ones.

When 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.

There’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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2 of 11 comments
  • MRF 95 T-Bird MRF 95 T-Bird on Jan 19, 2021

    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.

  • DenverMike DenverMike on Jan 19, 2021

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

  • RHD The only people who would buy this would be those convinced by a website that they are great, and order one sight-unseen. They would have to have be completely out of touch with every form of media for the last year. There might actually be a few of these people, but not very many. They would also have to be completely ignorant of the Hyundai Excel. (Vinfast seems to make the original Excel look like a Camry in comparison.)
  • RHD This was awesome, in 1978. Now, it's very much obsolete - thirsty, slow, ponderous, noisy, rough, and dated design even in its time. Still, someone who wants to recreate some distant memories will buy it and restore it and enjoy it, and the seller just has to find that particular individual.
  • BEPLA Cybertruck may have made some kind of weird sense had it been brought on market on time, ie: before Rivian and F150 Lightning.But the market has progressed.If this were any normal company it would be ditched for a more competitive product.But in Elon's narcissistic dreamworld - well, we'll just see how it flops.
  • RHD If you want to 'win', just to to the local auto parts store and buy the stuff that you really want and need. Then you don't have to wonder if you'll ever actually get anything.
  • Bullnuke Farago was absolutely correct. I should have been allowed to die. It was never "Too Big To Fail" - It would have been bought up, perhaps in pieces, and the failing portions would have disappeared much as they did later while GM had control with Pontiac as an example. There would have been a small chance (well, very small chance) that the hide-bound corporate leadership would have been purged and injected with new ideas and direction. Wasn't allowed to happen as organized labor had a very large finger on the scale during that time...