Live Auctions

Brown and Velour: 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon

Front-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive, that debate has waged on longer than paper or plastic. Most car makers switched to front-wheel drive and now a few of them are switching back to the rear wheels providing the traction as electronic nannies are helping sometimes otherwise helpless drivers get through all sorts of weather conditions. This front-drive 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon was as posh as it got for Nissan in this era. This gorgeous survivor wagon is posted on Craigslist in Spokane, Washington with a $3,700 or offer asking price. Check this link when the listing goes away.

What a nice car. The Nissan Maxima vs. Toyota Cressida debate is almost as old as Chevy vs. Ford. Well, not even close, but it’s decades old. The Toyota Cressida had Toyota’s great inline-six and also rear-wheel drive. The Maxima had Nissan’s V6 and front-wheel drive. Those are fairly big differences. NADA lists the high-retail value of a 1986 Nissan Maxima wagon as being $3,650, just to have something to go on.

I don’t know how the Toyota could win the looks-better debate, though. They do look similar but the Maxima was stunning and it still is. I know, a lot of you American-only folks just laughed and were ready to fire off a scathing comment on how these dang foreign cars have ruined this once-great country. But, look at a 1986 Nissan Maxima wagon and a 1986 Ford Taurus wagon and let the chips fall where they may, at least in the ever-shallow looks department where I usually wallow when it comes to buying, collecting, and enjoying non-daily-driver-type cars. As always, what vehicle “looks great” is 100% in the eye of the beholder so there is literally no right or wrong answer on what cars a person likes based on looks. I freely and publicly admit that I like all cars from all countries, and all designs from all car companies. But, give me a taught, tight Maxima or Cressida over a jelly bean any day of the week.

I have already said too much about design and my thoughts on it. I’m an architect and architectural photographer by degree, training, and experience, not a car designer. My views are no more or no less important, well-reasoned, or valid than any of the Barn Finds readers’ views on car design are. Some of you bring literally decades of experience to the table more than I have. But, back to being shallow and this particular Maxima wagon: look at how nice this car is!

As nice and 1980s-funky and chunky as the exterior is, the interior is even more of the same, and it appears just as nice as the exterior is. The seller mentions that this car has everything and “everything amazingly works”, other than the AC not being ice-cold. You don’t need bolsters on the seats in this car, that crazy velour fabric will hold your Sans-a-Belt slacks right to those seats. The back seats looks pretty inviting and they may be even nicer than the front seats are. It must not have been used that much.

This car has 167,000 miles on it, which isn’t anything to sneeze at. If the timing belt on Nissan’s interference VG30E 3.0L V6 engine hasn’t been changed, that will need to be done and I don’t mean tomorrow. This is why a lot of former mechanics prefer the Toyota engine. I just heard from the seller and they say that the former owner told them that the timing belt had been changed. It’s hard to go wrong when manufacturers put red on their engines, but this is no Ferrari, with 153 hp and 182 ft-lb of torque. I think this is a stunningly-beautiful car and if I didn’t have $900+ in shipping costs from Spokane I would seriously check this one out. Have any of you owned a Maxima Wagon? Or, a Cressida wagon? Or a Taurus wagon?!


  1. DayDreamBeliever Alan (Michigan)

    That is a very nice car.
    If it wasn’t a plane ticket away, I’d be negotiating with the seller already.
    What is it with Spokane? Two months ago I bought a very nice 1991 motor home from that area, with only 85K on the clock.
    They must not salt the roads?

    • Jason

      Exactly. No salt

      • ex benzo tech

        Two problems with these cars.
        Timing belt is rather difficult to do.
        Replacing warped exhaust manifolds and broken studs is even more difficult. Otherwise these are great.
        I had a sedan about 20 years ego and yes i had to do the belt and broken studs, manifolds.
        There is no salt in WA. state and spokane is a small town .
        So one can find older cars in mint condition there.

      • olddavidp

        They most certainly salt the roads in Spokane. Try going to the airport in January without NaCl on the tarmac. It is still a beautiful car, however, salt or not.

  2. Gene Parmesan

    My folks had an ’87 Maxima sedan in the same color as the top half of this car. What I remember most about that car was the stereo equalizer sliders and yes, those button-tufted seats. They sold the car around ’97 with 212,000 miles on it still running strong as ever. These are great vehicles.

  3. Adam T45 Staff

    I’m impressed by the sound system. Across the globe audio-philes everywhere are drooling. Seriously, great condition and from my own experience these have just about the most comfortable seats of any production car. I think that it would be worth considering as the condition is so good.

  4. Superdessucke

    It looks like a “Black and Tan.” Now I’m thirsty, LOL!


    Nice wagon, if it was from the original owner it will be mine by now.

  6. Perry C Dangerfield

    I had both Maxima and Cressida sedans….I can’t honestly tell you which was the better vehicle. I like RWD on the Cresdida, but the Maxima was such a nice car. I wish I still had both! Regerts!!!

  7. Maestro1

    Very attractive, very nice, give it what it needs and enjoy.

  8. Mark

    Nice car and where can I get an electric nanny? Seems like a cool idea.

    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Ha! Hey-ohhhhh..

  9. DRV

    Except for exhaust expense and problems this is a screaming cool future wagon to have.
    Small patches of Washington and Oregon have the best non deteriorated cars ever.

  10. Rx7turboII

    I can personally speak on both cars the Toyota Cressida and the Nissan Maxima from that era and I would definitely take the Cressida over the Maxima haven’t had both for a few years of Driving Experience. The Cressida is extremely well-made and basically bulletproof unless you count head gasket issues which is only about every hundred thousand miles and very easy to do. Love the rear wheel drive the 7mge motor is very powerful and smooth and overall a wonderful car to drive. The Nissan Maxima, great car plenty of front wheel drive torque steer to scare the death out of you and to boot, my car had been converted to a 300ZX turbo engine which made it even more scarier! LOL. both cars were wonderful cars, both cars had digital dash, both cars were automatic… but overall the Cressida was a superior car in almost every way.

  11. Colin

    If any one’s interested, there’s a 87′ SE sedan in Seattle as well, same color and factory radio but this time with adjustable sport suspension and 5-speed stick shift.

  12. Ryan Shanahan

    I like these cars and the Cressida, but I think the 86 Taurus/Sable was a beautiful and refreshing design. I’m no Ford fan, but I was 6 years old when they debuted and those cars were breathtaking in their day parked next to An LTD II

  13. Paul M

    I am the proud new owner of this car, which now resides in Los Angeles.
    It was down to $3,200 in Craigslist when I contacted the owner. I called a shop there and set up a PPI; it was not in as great condition as hoped, but could easily be brought there with some time and money – notable expenses are the A/C and timing belt. Based on the findings, I negotiated a fair price. During the spring break, I flew to Spokane, WA, coughed up the moolah, and DROVE the car down to Los Angeles in 2 days, with NO incidents. It is now in the shop, being brought up to tip-top condition.

    Like 1
    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      Terrific, Paul! Thanks for sharing!

      Like 1
  14. Shaun Waite

    I’m from Spokane lol!

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