$2,500 4WD: 1987 Nissan Sentra XE 4WD Wagon

I freely admit it: My name is Scotty G and I’m a car hoarder. The last few months I’ve added a few (too many?) 1980s Japanese cars to the fleet. I have another admission: I want to buy this car. I know that there probably isn’t one other person who follows Barn Finds that would like to have this 1987 Nissan Sentra XE 4WD Wagon with a 5-speed, but I want it. This one is on Craigslist in College Park, Maryland and it is priced very temptingly at $2,500.

I have a thing for 4WD cars, especially ones that don’t look like they should have all four wheels powering the car. Two of the cars that I’ve gotten recently have 4WD. Nissan offered the second-generation B12 Sentra from 1985 to 1990 but the US didn’t get them until 1986. In 1987, they were all powered by Nissan’s E16 carbureted engine with 69 hp, except for the sport coupe and 4WD wagon which had the E16i fuel-injected engine with a mere 70 hp. As you guessed, there are no engine photos. The 4WD wagons were offered in 1987, 1988, and 1989 only and they are rare.

As a wagon, known for the utility and storage space behind the rear seats, this one with such a sloping back is fairly useless. But, it sure looks unusual and unusual is better than utility in my world. If I want to haul something I’ll take a vehicle made to haul things. Apparently, not too many other folks think that this car is as desirable as I do as it has been for sale for well over a month and was first offered at $2,900, which I also thought was a good price. This car looks incredible straight, but it does have some rust, unfortunately. I think that may be holding back a few potential buyers, myself included. If it was rust-free I’m almost positive that it would have been delivered several weeks ago.

The interior looks like it’s in fantastic condition. I’m not sure what’s going on with the door gasket on the left side of the photo, but things look clean and crisp for a 30-year old vehicle. You can see some rust starting to show itself on the door sills, hopefully it isn’t too bad. It has a lot less rust than my ’97 Outback does and it’s a decade older. The dash looks perfect and it has an upgraded stereo with a USB port. A big part of the attraction for me, other than it being a rare 4WD model, is the 5-speed manual transmission. Like a few other car makers at the time, Nissan added a push button on the top of the shift knob to activate the 4WD mode. I inquired about this car exactly a month ago and the seller said, ” It runs great, has some rust but nothing crazy, brand new battery, axle, wheel cylinder, gas lines, etc… clutch, brakes, suspension all fine but I was considering new front pads and rotors soon, they’re at about 25% left.” I’m still very tempted. Have any of you seen one of these hatchback 4WD Sentras?

Fast Finds


  1. chad

    “…I know that there probably isn’t one other person who follows Barn Finds that would like to have this 1987 Nissan Sentra XE 4WD Wagon with a 5-speed, but…” I’d have it too.
    Same disclaimer tho, wish it had the sq. back of a true wagon (for looks’n space) and…well um, er , and me? …an auto as well (in town traffic, very short hauls).

    • Greg

      I read this 3 times. No idea what it means

      • Russell

        I read it 4 times and I don’t either.

  2. Adam T45 Staff

    This car came from an era when sadly Nissan had lost its way on a global scale. In Australia we received a similarly styled Nissan called the Pintara Superhatch (picture above). It was really more of a hunchback than a hatchback, and was only available as a 4 cylinder fwd. Nissan Australia spent money like it was going out of fashion, as the Superhatch (and its sedan derivative) were going to sell in astounding numbers both domestically and in overseas markets, or so Nissan believed. Ford came to the party in Australia and sold a re-badged version called the Corsair. The overseas sales amounted to 1000 cars exported to Japan (called the “Nissan Aussie” and each having a stuffed toy koala in the glove compartment). The mega Australian sales? In the slightly less than four years that the car was on the market, combined sales of both the Nissan and Ford products amounted to less than 20,000 cars. Nissan had torn up $1,000,000 on local manufacturing upgrades for the Pintara. They chose to pull the pin on the local manufacturing, write off the losses, and returned to being an importer only. A sad story.

  3. Rx7turboII

    Scotty, you are wrong! I would love to have this Nissan Sentra and I would put it right next to my Nissan Pulsar NX and it would keep it company…lol

  4. sparkster

    What a great find. A friend said that he’s going to start a support group for some of us that can’t stay off Craigslist, and more importantly from buying cars from Craigslist. Case in point last week I bought a 2005 BMW 325xi with a five speed manual transmission for $3500

    • Rev Rory

      Let me know when you want to sell that one. Been looking for awhile…

  5. Howard A Member

    With all due respect to Scotty’s love of Asian cars, and these were very dependable cars, I have to say, this is one of the most blase cars. It’s as if, someone said, ” I don’t care what it looks like, or the color, I just need a dependable, economical car”. That mindset has seemed to carry over into today.

  6. Mike Hall

    I think it’s pretty cool.
    Mike. Baltimore, Maryland

  7. charlie Member

    Bet it has more cubic feet of space than my 2014 Audi Q 5, to which the ghost of Lucas has returned. It will now be 9 days in the shop for electrical problems. My son’s ’85 Sentra, which he bought for $1 in 1995, ran without complaint for 3 years until the rust got it. So this is a good deal as long as you don’t need a quick 0-60, or 60-80 for passing on two lane roads.

  8. notpurple

    mom had one of these, not 4wd, but it was 5 speed. fantastic little car. i would love this one, but too far away for me.

  9. TeamPOS

    Here’s one we picked up for $500 for the New England 2009 race.

    Check out the next 3 or 4 pics.


    You could basically keep the pedal to the floor the entire track. We experimented with turning the 4WD on/off via that shifter mounted button. The car was horrendously underpowered.

    Also, we had to bring it in every 10 or so laps because of fuel starvation or the EFI didn’t like something or another, or who knows what.

    On the last lap of the race the yellow came out and someone behind me didn’t realize it. Tapped me pretty hard causing a thrown rod – I know, sounds odd, but that is what happened.

  10. Anthony Schreiber
  11. KC Jones

    Awesome. Maybe I’ll buy this car (50miles away) to replace my diesel gate VW Passat and buy a used R32 with the money left over 🤣. Very cool car, too bad they chopped off the back.

  12. Anthony

    I am the owner of this 1987 Sentra 4wd and it is in great running condition. I have a clean title in hand awaiting the next owner who wants a cool daily driver.

    Like 1
  13. David M Dalby

    I have a running white 1987 4WD Wagon with the 5-speed.

    It needs much, but it runs great and drives straight.
    I am losing my place to store it. Is there any interest or should I donate it?
    I just do not want it to go to a crusher.
    Location is Oregon.

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