Junkyard Find: 1993 Nissan Stanza Altima GXE

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

Over the last couple of decades, the Nissan Altima has become the butt of countless online jokes and is now generally considered the most wretchedly disposable of US-market motor vehicles. We can assume that this is the result of so many years of ex-fleet Altimas being dumped into the market after full depreciation, coupled with a general sense of utter dysfunction in Nissan HQ. In any case, the Altima is an icon now, and I've spent years trying to find a first-year example in the car graveyards I frequent. Finally, in a Denver-area boneyard, I found this battered '93 GXE sedan.

junkyard find 1993 nissan stanza altima gxe

The original Altima was the replacement for the U12 Bluebird-derived Stanza here. It was based on the following Bluebird generation, the U13.

The Stanza began its North American career as an Americanized Nissan Violet, with 1982 as the first model year. The unrelated Nissan Prairie was given Stanza Wagon badges here, while Violet-based Stanzas remained on sale here through the 1989 model year.

So, the Stanza never sold particularly well here, but Nissan decided to hedge its bets by including the somewhat-familiar Stanza name on the Stanza's successor. After all, several years of Bluebird-based Stanzas meant that Stanza/Bluebird tradition merited a bit of continuity.

As a result, the official name of this car for the 1993 model year was the Stanza Altima.

This car got hit hard in the rear and whatever Stanza badges once existed are long gone. In any case, by 1994 the Altima name took over completely.

This is a mid-prestige Stanza Altima GXE, a notch above the base XE but not as nice as the SE and GLE Stanza Altimas.

The MSRP on this car was $14,024, or about $29,834 in 2023 dollars. We can assume that generous rebates and discounts were available on new '93 Stanza Altimas.

The engine is a 2.4-liter KA24DE straight-four, rated at 150 horsepower for 1993.

Only the Stanza Altima GLE came with an automatic transmission as standard equipment for 1993; a five-speed manual was the base transmission for the lesser trim levels and the optional automatic added $825 ($1,755 today) to the cost of those cars.

US-market new cars without driver's-side airbags in 1993 were required to get these hateful powered automatic seat belts. It appears that no airbags were available on any first-year Stanza Altimas here.

You'll find one in every car. You'll see.

This car managed to survive three decades of Big Altima Energy, and it traveled well over 200,000 miles during that time.

One of its owners applied faux-carbon-fiber decals to the dash trim, as one does.

The Altima hasn't been nearly as bad a car as its online reputation suggests, but it may be impossible to overcome the image tarnishing caused by those millions of fleet Altimas.

There's no mention of the Stanza name in this TV commercial

Ozone-friendly air conditioning!

It passed the Lexus ball-bearing test.

It was considered a big car in its homeland.

[Images: The Author]

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3 of 39 comments
  • Mustangfast Mustangfast on Aug 06, 2023

    I don’t think it’s a 93 but someone at work still drives a first gen Altima to where I work. I don’t think the reputation came until the end of the third/fourth gen Altimas started getting to their second or third owners.

  • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Aug 06, 2023

    Ozone friendly air conditioning [we were forced to use by Federal law and thus its not really a feature].

    • Steve S. Steve S. on Aug 07, 2023

      By international agreement, actually. And the ozone layer has greatly improved as a result. Now if we could all just agree on global warming, and not believe the propaganda coming from the petroleum and coal companies, and their mouthpieces in the right-wing media.

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