Junkyard Find: 1987 Nissan Pulsar NX XE

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1987 nissan pulsar nx xe

When the “Datsun by Nissan” Sentra first appeared in the United States in 1982, it replaced [url=

Americans could buy the ordinary Pulsar sedans and hatchbacks for the 1983 model year only, after which it became clear that the Sentra would be a strong seller (it must have seemed at the time that each version of the quasi-sporty Datsun 310— known as the first-generation Pulsar in Japan— needed replacements). The Pulsar NX remained available here from the 1983 through 1990 model years.

What did sporty cars in mid-1980s America need most ( other than turbocharging and garish TURBO badging)? A T-top roof, of course, and this car has one. With the tops off and rear deck panel removed from the car, the 1987-1990 Pulsar NX became a sort of goofy-looking targa roadster (the 1983-1986 Pulsar NX got an ordinary trunk and decklid).

I don’t find many T-top cars with both roof panels still intact in junkyards, but this Pulsar is in exceptionally nice condition.

Given the clean interior and lack of rust, I’d expected to see very low miles on the odometer, but this car nearly reached 175,000 miles during its time on the road. Its owner or owners took good care of it, which suggests that it got traded in on a new car and then failed to sell at the subsequent auction.

There’s just not much interest in a tiny, funny-looking Nissan with big miles and too many pedals these days.

The most interesting feature of the 1987-1990 Pulsar NX was the Sportbak option, which allowed you to replace this detachable rear quarter/decklid assembly with a camper-shell-ish structure that turned your coupe into a wagon. I’ve never managed to find a Sportbak in a junkyard, but I remain hopeful. At least I have found a discarded Geo Storm Wagonback, so I got that going for me.

These taillights looked radical at the time, so much so that owners of other cars would use tape and/or paint to get this look.

Yes, the same pattern carries over onto the speaker grilles inside.

Air conditioning was still a costly and seldom-seen option on small cars during the middle 1980s, and so the A/C button looks like an afterthought. The refrigerated air added 715 bucks to the Pulsar NX’s $10,599 price tag (that’s about $1,780 on a $26,365 car in 2021 dollars).

The engine was the same 1.6-liter four with 70 horses that powered most Sentras in 1987. The Pulsar NX SE got a 113-horsepower twin-cam engine and cost $11,799 (about $29,350 today).

I think this commercial achieves Peak 1980s™.

The name is Nissan!

In Japan, Pulsar EXA buyers could get an LA Edition.

For links to more than 2,100 additional Junkyard Finds, please visit the Junkyard Home of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™.

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  • Wantahertzdonut Wantahertzdonut on Nov 30, 2021

    These were always parked in front of the hair salon at the outlet of my neighborhood into the mid 90's. There was also a Nissan dealership across the street so perhaps some local deals were made. They were either the color of this one or red, with rust spots towards the later 90's. There was definitely a "type" that drove these.

  • Carlson Fan Carlson Fan on Nov 30, 2021

    1987? I'll take an Olds Cutlass 442 w/T-tops, those sexy chrome Olds factory rally wheels, and a 307 HO V8 under the hood! Now that's a cool 80's car!

  • Jeff S Corey--We know but we still want to give our support to you and let TTAC know that your articles are excellent and better than what the typical articles are.
  • Jeff S A sport utility vehicle or SUV is a car classification that combines elements of road-going passenger cars with features from off-road vehicles, such as raised ground clearance and four-wheel drive.There is no commonly agreed-upon definition of an SUV and usage of the term varies between countries. Thus, it is "a loose term that traditionally covers a broad range of vehicles with four-wheel drive." Some definitions claim that an SUV must be built on a light truck chassis; however, broader definitions consider any vehicle with off-road design features to be an SUV. A [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossover_(automobile)]crossover SUV[/url] is often defined as an SUV built with a unibody construction (as with passenger cars), however, the designations are increasingly blurred because of the capabilities of the vehicles, the labelling by marketers, and electrification of new models.The predecessors to SUVs date back to military and low-volume models from the late 1930s, and the four-wheel drive station wagons and carryalls that began to be introduced in 1949. The 1984 [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeep_Cherokee_(XJ)]Jeep Cherokee (XJ)[/url] is considered to be the first SUV in the modern style. Some SUVs produced today use unibody construction; however, in the past, more SUVs used body-on-frame construction. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, the popularity of SUVs greatly increased, often at the expense of the popularity of large [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sedan_(automobile)]sedans[/url] and station wagons.More recently, smaller SUVs, mid-size, and crossovers have become increasingly popular. SUVs are currently the world's largest automotive segment and accounted for 45.9% of the world's passenger car market in 2021. SUVs have been criticized for a variety of environmental and safety-related reasons. They generally have poorer fuel efficiency and require more resources to manufacture than smaller vehicles, contributing more to climate change and environmental degradation. Between 2010 and 2018 SUVs were the second largest contributor to the global increase in carbon emissions worldwide. Their higher center of gravity increases their risk of rollovers. Their larger mass increases their stopping distance, reduces visibility, and increases damage to other road users in collisions. Their higher front-end profile makes them at least twice as likely to kill pedestrians they hit. Additionally, the psychological sense of security they provide influences drivers to drive less cautiously. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sport_utility_vehicleWith the above definition of SUV any vehicle that is not a pickup truck if it is enclosed, doesn't have a trunk, and is jacked up with bigger tires. If the green activists adhere to this definition of what an SUV is there will be millions of vehicles with flat tires which include HRVs, Rav4s, CRVs, Ford Escapes, Buick Encores, and many of compact and subcompact vehicles. The green movement is going to have to recruit millions of new followers and will be busy flattening millions of tires in the US and across the globe. Might be easier to protest.
  • Sckid213 I actually do agree that most Nissans are ultimately junk. (I also think many BMWs are also). I was talking challenging the 3 in terms of driving dynamics. Agree all were failures in sales.
  • THX1136 More accurately said, we are seeing exponential growth in the manufacturing capabilities in this market. Unless, of course, all those vehicles are sold with customers waiting until more a produced so they can buy. Indeed, there are certainly more EVs being purchased now than back in 2016. Is demand outstripping manufacturing? Maybe or maybe not. I sincerely don't know which is why I ask.
  • ToolGuy The page here (linked in the writeup) is ridiculously stupid https://www.tyreextinguishers.com/how-to-spot-an-suvLike, seriously stupid, e.g., A) Not sure that particular Volvo is killing the planet as quickly as some other vehicles we might choose. B) A Juke is "huge"??? C) The last picture shows a RAV4 Hybrid?