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4 Door Sports Car: 1986 Nissan Maxima


Years ago, I desired to own an early 90’s Nissan Maxima with a 5-speed stick, and for good reason: it was one of the best sport sedans you could buy, and was the driver’s choice if an Accord was too boring and a 5-Series was out of reach. Sadly, those days are long gone but early models like this 1986 Maxima with only 56,268 miles on the clock are an appealing choice as an emerging classic. 


Isn’t it amazing to look at the engine bay of what was Nissan’s flagship vehicle and compare it to modern engine rooms, where the goods are covered up by acres of black plastic engine covers? By comparison, the venerable VG30E V6 looks like a shop class’ engine swap project. Paired to a front-wheel drive configuration, the V6 in these early Maximas churned out a silky 157 b.h.p. with 3L of displacement.


The seller refers to this specimen as an SE model but I suspect they’re mistaken. SEs were the sportiest models available, complete with a rear spoiler, 5-speed manual and blacked-out side view mirrors. While it’s lacking these cosmetic enhancements, non-SE models also made do without the trick adjustable suspension that the sport package provided. While this toned-down version may not be as desirable, it’s a still a survivor through and through.


I don’t think the $5,999 Buy-It-Now price is unreasonable, but I suspect the final number will hammer home at a slightly lower amount. The SE would be a different story for sure, but if you’re interested in some early Japanese luxury, check out the Maxima here on eBay where there are no offers at present and just over six days left on the listing.


  1. Howard A Member

    Always got a kick out of Asian car names. Maximum? No, Maxima. Accurate? No, Acura. ( Jerry Seinfeld) I had a friend with one of these, and he said he had to use the cruise control, because 80 mph didn’t feel any different than 50.

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    • Rando

      Wasn’t the Cressida the Toyota equivalent? Yeah the names were interesting. A case of Engrish?

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      • Leon

        In the Japanese market there are models with names like Happy Scrum and Bongo Friendee along with others look up Youtube Japanese car commercials They had an obsession with American popular songs for the ads

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  2. Dairymen

    Not a barnfind…
    Not a classic…
    Not worth anything…
    It’s just a decent looking 30 yr old Japanese car. Try to trade this for a newer ride and they’ll give you $1500 if lucky.

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    • edh

      It would be a great first car for a teen, but I wouldn’t pay more than $800.

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  3. Matt

    Oh Man, my boss had one of these when I was in high school. He let me take it to the prom. They were a great car. I remember it being pretty quick, it had a nice factory stereo in it, and a great sun roof. Good memories of that model!! This one seems pretty expensive though…..

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  4. Todd Zuercher

    I test drove one of these a few years ago for a friend and the 80s came flooding back. A talking voice to remind me of things, 9 band graphic equalizer, and pillowy velour upholstery. A wonderful decade! I think the 4DSC moniker wasn’t applied to these cars until the ’89 redesign.

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    • Jake Dufresne

      4dsc was ’87+. These cars were fantastic, expressly the GLs with the digital dash, and the SEs with that 5spd. Mmmm.

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  5. Patrick

    I would cringe every time one of these came into the shop! We had a special “burn sleeve” that we had to wear to swap out the oil filter which was buried in the back of the motor, underneath the scalding hot exhaust manifold. Lots of fun on a nice hot July day lol! A nice car for sure, you never see this first gen model here in the North East as they have all gone back to the ground. Even the second gen 4DSC models are scarce! This is a nice car for not a lot of money. Regarding the voice commands, I always thought a door was a door, not ajar. HA!

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    • Howard A Member

      Hi Patrick, my biggest gripe with newer cars ( and trucks) is the location of the oil filter. I had a Saturn, it was best to take off the right front tire. I miss the days of the inline 6 Rambler, that had it right next to the air cleaner.

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      • Patrick

        Hi Howard, you’re not kidding! The good old days of accessible maintenance items are long gone. On the flip side though, new vehicles need so much less maintenance than the older ones. Funny though, on my 2016 WRX the filter is directly on top of the engine and super easy to change! I remember commenting that if the engineers that design these vehicles ever had to work on them they would be a little more sympathetic. Doctors have it easy, bodies don’t change and most are the same but mechanics….that’s a whole different story!

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  6. Rick

    Always liked the station wagon version of this model Maxima, thought they were way cooler that the similar vintage Camry wagon, but talk about cars that have gone back into the ground! I see old Camry wagons maybe once in awhile, I never see old Maxima wagons anymore.

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    • Jeff Staff

      The old Maxima wagons may as well be considered extinct. I haven’t seen one in years.

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  7. DougM

    love to find another one of these…..

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  9. Mark

    I was lucky enough to have a then brand new 1986 Maxima SE in college. It was Thunder Black with the gray cloth sport seats. I loved that car. With the 152 hp 300ZX engine and 5 speed manual, it was fast and comfortable too. It had a great standard stereo with cassette and equalizer as well as an electric sunroof and adjustable shocks. I put about 125k miles on it, and sold it once I entered professional life. It’s been about 30 yrs now, and I really miss it. Clearly the chance of still finding one now in reasonable condition is needle in a haystack probability. I have great memories along with that car. The 80’s were a special time.

    Like 1

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