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Nicest One Left? 1999 Nissan Maxima SE

You may be saying, “Why is a late model Japanese car on my screen?” Well, it’s a fourth-generation Nissan Maxima SE, and this is notable for a few reasons. For one, very few of these cars are left in any sort of condition, let alone a relatively low-mileage survivor in one of the rarest trim specs and colors. In addition, this era of Maxima is considered by many to be the last “great” year of Nissan’s preeminent sports sedan before it became bloated and riddled with a CVT transmission as standard equipment. It’s listed here on Facebook Marketplace for $7,999.

When the first-generation Maxima came out, it was a classic introductory model. It didn’t set the world on fire, but it was a respectable entry from a company that was on the smaller side at that point in time. By the time the third-generation Maxima rolled out, it was clear the company was serious about competing in the sports sedan space. The fourth-generation model like the car shown here is really the swan song of the Maxima as enthusiasts knew it, with tidy proportions, racy details like white-faced gauges, and comfortable but supportive leather bucket seats.

The biggest single detail that stands out about the fourth-generation model beyond the attributes already listed is that it would be the second-to-last era in which Nissan offered a three-pedal Maxima. The fifth-generation model gained some weight and lost its razor-sharp styling, but you could still buy one with a manual. After that, it all went to hell as Nissan became incredibly cheap and stuck a miserable CVT transmission in almost every model it sold. They are incredibly hard to find today, and while this one would be even more of a find with a stick, beggars can’t be choosers. The SE trim, historically, has been the Maxima to buy, as it was the “sporty” model in the lineup.

Crimson Blaze Red is also an impossible color to find across the entirety of the Nissan lineup from the late 90s, but especially so for a sedan geared towards a mature audience. If I was hunting for a Maxima of this era, I’d be tempted to buy this and immediately began acquiring parts for a manual conversion. That sort of modification will absolutely add value to a car like this, especially if the next owner stays away from performance modifications that tend to be a value killer. This is a special example of a car that used to be everywhere, and is a much bigger find that you may be thinking it is right now.


  1. 370zpp 370zpp Member

    Glad to see this here. Always liked these but never owned one. Made to compete with the Cressida.

    Like 7
  2. Stan

    Man if it was a stick.. still a Beaut.

    Like 7
    • ChasMan

      I had this exact car with a stick only it was white. Not all it was cracked up to be. Very loud, not a very fast car at all. Dealer could not balance the wheels and it shimmied over 65. But worst of all, the seats were the most uncomfortable ones I have ever had. Over 30 minutes in that seat was a killer as there was no lower back support.

      Like 2
  3. Mike76

    A girl I dated for awhile in the 90’s had one of these, dark green with tan interior. What really gets me about the post is not the car being reviewed or that hers was particularly memorable, it’s this car being listed on Barn Finds. I keep denying it but yup, I am gettin’ old.

    Like 5
  4. Rich

    I was just thinking about my 98 Maxima the other day. Fantastic car. Comfortable and reliable. Sold it with 190k miles on it. Used to be a die hard Nissan fan but agree they went down hill sadly

    Like 7
    • Paul Root

      I had a 2006 Altima. It was a couch on wheels with a big back seat. But that was what I needed at the time. It was a real automatic at least. It could and did eat up highway miles.

      Like 0
  5. Anonymous1

    Oh dear. A beautiful, high quality car and still from the era when Nissan made its reputation as the sportiest of the Japanese three.

    Also from the era when I was in high school, which is a tough pill to swallow as it’s now a classic :-)

    Like 6
  6. Tommy T-Tops

    Wow I hadn’t thought about these for a while and yes at one time they were everywhere. I can attest to the pre-CVT Nissan quality and reliability- I owned two 1997 Nissan Altima’s as daily drivers -one stick and one auto and you could not destroy these cars even after hundreds of thousands of miles with just general maintenance. Nice car GLWTA

    Like 7
  7. Jason

    These were among the final good cars that Nissan made. Fantastic build quality and fun to drive. What exactly happened to lead Nissan to become the bottom feeders that they are today?

    Like 7
    • chris lawrence

      Renault taking primary ownership

      Like 4
      • mick

        Bummer . . .

        Like 2
  8. Mitchell G. Member

    Barn Finds: You may be saying, “Why is a late model Japanese car on my screen?”
    Also Barn Finds: Posts a story about a 25 year old car
    *Side note I’m only joking and totally being a smartass. I regret nothing*

    Like 3
  9. JC

    Initially, the CVT had issues but I think Nissan has figured that out… had a 2013 Altima that I had ZERO issues with, sold it to my brother in law and it currently has over 150k miles on it with nothing but routine maintenance and the tranny fluids never even been changed. He drives it back and forth to work 6 days a week, 100+ miles per day… no car lasts forever, they all eventually break but so far so good.

    Like 2
  10. Jeff Shore

    I had a 1995 Version in black. It was quick, sleek, comfortable. Loved the car, sold it to buy a Grand Cherokee. If I had room for it in my garage I would buy this one.

    Like 2
  11. MD

    Mine was Burgundy with a 5 speed manual. Would love to have it now.

    Like 1
  12. Nelson C

    Seemed Nissan was on top back then. These were a great alternative to the Euro sport sedan. Owners heaped praise on them and they got driven. My only complaint was the rear treatment doesn’t compliment the rest of the car.

    Like 2
  13. Marques Dean

    I used to work at (then) Gerald Nissan/Subaru in North Aurora, Illinois from 2000 to 2002. The last great Maximas were built in 2003 in Japan, before the new 2004 body style (and that dreaded CVT) came out. At that time the Maxima had transitioned from the world renowned VG30DE V-6 to the even better VQ35DE V-6, which turned the Maxima into a torque machine(even then though the Maxima wasn’t lacking in power)! Also, depending on the trim (the SE in particular) the 5-speed manual transmission was swapped for a 6-speed manual transmission. In addition a Torsen limited slip differential (borrowed from the Skyline GT-R) helped put that power to the ground. Back then the Maxima actually lived up to it’s reputation as the 4DSC(4 Door Sports Car). It could walk the walk and talk the talk! If you test drove an automatic transmission equipped Maxima and then test drove the manual transmission Maxima you could feel the difference in driving dynamics!

    Like 4
  14. mick

    I owned 2, a 93 stick and a 98 automatic. That 93 could haul! I surprised many a “quick” car at the stoplights in West Houston. The automatic totally changed the attitude of the car. Turned it into a cruiser. Comfortable and quick but not a handler like the 93. I definitely enjoyed the 93 more.

    Like 3
  15. wjtinfwb

    Nissan just before they committed corporate Hari Kari. Maxima, 300ZX, 240SX, Sentra, Pathfinder, Hardbody trucks were all top of or close in their segments in the 80s-90s. The next Maxima, unit body Pathfinder and swoopier but dull as dishwater Sentra all fell below middle of class while competitors just got better. CVTs didn’t help, but we’re far from the only issue as quality seemed to nosedive at the same time as well. Nissan should go back in time, dust off an old Maxima, 240 SX, Hardbody, Sentra SE-R and 300ZX for their product development folks to drive, look at and embrace. They were peak Nissan and should be the inspiration for the future.

    Like 9
  16. 370zpp 370zpp Member

    Kind of sad to see how Nissan fell from grace over the years as they apparently have. I have owned four, and still own two, both keepers. Not perfect, but no regrets on my part. No, I would never buy a new one, but then I would never buy a new anything. Truthfully, every manufacturer has had their high times and their low times.
    Ideally, I would love to once again own my 04 S2000. If I could only fit in it.

    Like 1
  17. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    I never thought I would see a Maxima on here, but glad it is posted.

    I had a ’95 Maxima. I traded a ’91 SHO in for it – I had been having several issues in a row with that car and promised myself that the next problem meant I would get rid if it. I went on a hunt for a manual SE and found one but could not make a good deal on it. I stopped at another Nissan dealership and they had a loaded automatic SE on the showroom floor in a nice dark blue. I was skeptical, but they handed me the keys to one and told me to take it for a prolonged spin while they assessed my trade.

    I drove it around and thought that I could live with the auto, as long as they gave me a great deal. My SHO had a vanity plate that said “SHOME” and when I returned to the dealership, they had written “MAXME” on the front of the showroom car. I got a chuckle out of that and ended up making a great deal and driving that car home.

    It was a great car and never had a single issue with it, but had to sell it when I ended up with 2 cars when my girlfriend and I split up and I ended up with her Accord EX VTEC 5 speed. I kept the Honda until that got traded for a ’99 Z/28.

    Like 0
  18. Rexer

    Still have my 96 Maxima automatic with 220K miles. It’s been a very reliable car until recently, when the water pump started leaking. Mechanics said it was a $3000 job to replace because it’s driven by the timing chain! My friend and I changed it in 10 hours, but what a nightmare. Now there’s an oil leak at the rear of the engine, and that looks like a miserable job. So the engine still runs well and the car is still shiny as it’s been garaged most of its life, but watch out when stuff goes bad under the hood. It’s all crammed in there.

    Like 2

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