Scotty G’s Garage: 1984 Nissan Sentra

Let’s take a behind the scenes look at a little car from Scotty G’s (that’s me!) garage. This is not an exciting car unless a person happens to be a lover or collector of vintage Japanese vehicles, so don’t expect to hear 0-60 times or length-of-burnout numbers or anything like that. This 1984 Nissan Sentra two-door sedan is currently listed on eBay as I’m thinning the herd a bit. I’m asking $1,400 or offer, and no “You messed up the decimal point, chief, it should be $140, har-har..!” remarks.. (you know who you are!).. It’s in St. Paul, MN, oddly enough, right where I am.

Ok, so the 0-60 time is.. wait, never you mind about that! This is one of those unusual and, I’m about to use the “R” word, so those of you who hate Japanese vehicles are excused, yes, rare cars and I could not resist it. Is it rare because most of them rusted into dust by now? Partly. And, luckily this car is from the Pacific Northwest with a short stint in dry Utah so it’s been spared that whole rusting-into-dust thing. My winter car is fairly close to literally being rusty-dust right now. Being 6′-5″ tall is of no consequence with this car, I fit just fine on the slightly-torn driver’s seat. Speaking of that, I found a brand new NOS (isn’t that the same thing?) driver’s seat, maybe the last one on the planet, and it goes with the car. You can see it in the eBay photos. Oh yeah, and the passenger side mirror was missing when I got it and I never jumped onto car-part.com to order one. I have literally driven this car maybe 20 miles since I got it. I don’t drive rust-free cars in the winter in Minnesota, this road salt will eat them alive.

I promise not to do as lengthy of a report as I did for my beloved Renault GTA. I think that a good portion of the comments were commenting on how long that one was. In this twitter world I guess I need to try to tone things down a few paragraphs. This car isn’t as “exciting” or as unusual as the GTA is, but the B11 Sentra first went on sale in the US in mid-1982 and is their second car to be marketed with an actual name as opposed to a number. I’ll do another post sometime about my 1983 Datsun-Nissan Sentra 2-door 5-speed sedan with both Datsun and Nissan badges. This 1984 Sentra is a two-door sedan as opposed to a two-door hatchback. The two-door sedans are pretty rare according to a friend who was a designer at Nissan for over a decade and is an avid collector. That means nothing to those who think that American-only cars are the way to go, and it’s a losing battle to think of trying to change anyone’s opinion on that.

Here’s that fancy “Deluxe” interior. It ain’t no Lexus, but it’s a step above the Standard and a step below the XE. Sort of the Jan Brady of the Sentra world. You can see the fading on the window cranks, but other than that, and maybe needing a driver’s side arm rest (it’s still there), it’s a nice little interior. And, an un-cracked dash top is almost unheard of in these cars, supposedly. This one is perfect. The XE would have had a tach in the dash which would have been nice. And, hey, there’s a 5-speed manual there! I had it in to my preferred import shop and they adjusted the carb and put on a new ball joint. There is a slight glitch with this otherwise fun little car – a previous owner disconnected the heater core and I have no clue why. That will have to be sorted out for anyone who wants heat..

The 5-speed helps the fun-factor with this 1.6L inline-four only throwing down about 70 ponies to the pavement. It’s actually a fun little car to drive. Again, I know that you American muscle car folks literally could not have any less interest in a car like this, except to debate how they ruined the country, etc. But, for the few million of us who like unusual, Japanese cars, they are really fun to drive. Not in a stoplight-to-stoplight sort of way, though – in a fun handling way. You aren’t laying rubber with this car but it was never meant for that purpose, it was meant to return 49 mpg and high reliability. For the record: 0-60 is 11.5 seconds, give or take. So there’s another one from Scotty G’s garage. Have a great weekend, all!

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Comments

  1. JoeBazots

    Looks like an honest driver. GLWTS!

    • Scotty Gilbertson Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Thanks, Joe! It’s a fun little commuter car.

      • Rick

        I had a 1984 diesel Sentra and loved the engine; hated the car….
        Big issue with these was the trail arm suspension. Over 65mph both back wheels on mine would begin to shudder and for a year fought the dealer on this. Fortunately my dad had connection overseas and wrote to the president of Nissan. Within a week the dealer who told me not to come back after arbitration was calling me to “resolve the issue”
        Nissan never did admit there was a problem, but this suspension design was terrible.
        By the way – the fix was stiffer bushings.
        50 mpg and quiet as a church mouse, no smoke. Overall, did not miss this hunk of metal when it was flooded in a storm. Did I mention 2nd gear in the manual trans lost a tooth while driving?

        1
      • Shannon akey

        Scotty G do you still have this 1985 Nissan Sentra?? I owned one as a kid and am currently looking for this model and color,
        865-801-2161 ask for Shannon

  2. Frank

    These are great cars! Liked these a lot as well as the 1980-1981 Honda Accords. Too bad I’m in Portland.

    • Scotty Gilbertson Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      You have all the good (rust-free) stuff on that side of the country, Frank!

  3. fordfan

    Our friends had this car in the same color loud , cheep ,the interior smelled like a new garden hose,the key in ignition warning sounded like a bike bell they didn’t keep it long

  4. AF

    needs pizza delivery sign to complete look

    • Scotty Gilbertson Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Hey, hmm.. (scratching chin..).. you may be onto something there, AF.

  5. Tyler Member

    my $140 offer still stands Scotty!

    • Scotty Gilbertson Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      I won’t take a penny less than $150, Tyler..

  6. Mike

    nice, wish it was the B12 body I’d be all over it

  7. Neal

    I learned to drive stick on my Dad’s new red ’83 two-door hatchback. It was a lot of fun if I remember correctly. Looked sporty with the white-lettered Yokohamas. I remember some minor glitchy carb problems, but otherwise a good runner. Don’t see any around anymore, but this is a nice find. Good luck.

    • Scotty Gilbertson Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      This one runs great, Neal. They are good first cars, but in this giant SUV world that we live in now with everyone coddled and texting at the same time, it’s not as safe as a new car would be for a son or daughter. I didn’t notice anything with the carb but the shop said that they spent some time adjusting it and it starts and runs great. I travel 150-200 days a year and I really shouldn’t buy cars if I’m not going to have time to tinker with them myself.

    • Brian Cody

      I owned 2 of the Sentra wagons an 83 and a 84. Being a carpenter they were perfect. All my tools fit in the back and a ladder on the roof too. Sold both w over 300k miles on the odometer. Good cheap transportation

  8. Rich

    Pic looks like you’re in Shoreview. Am I close???? Super clean for a MN car!! Glws

    • Scotty Gilbertson Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Good eye, that’s where the storage units are, Rich! If it were a MN car it would be one of those that turned to dust by now.

  9. Scott Staff

    This brings back not so fond memories of my first ride. 84 grey 2 door Sentra DIESEL, 4 spd I think, may have been a five. Left me stranded on more than one occasion. I waited in the high school parking lot after school to fire her up until most people were gone cause the black/grey smoke and noise was embarrassing to an awkward kid with no money and no girl ……..good times

  10. JimmyJ

    I got one of these for free in 1997 it was one of the best cars I ever owned I was working out of town and did a 900k trip every week fo 3 months. I live on the west coast so it’s pretty hard driving with lots of big hills.
    Anyways I don’t even think I ever popped the hood and I’m positive I never changed the oil!

  11. Todd Zuercher

    These used to be everywhere! And then they weren’t. I use the seat belts from these cars in my Bronco – tan ones in the early 90s and then I found a blue set probably 15-18 years ago and swapped those in. Now the driver’s side latch is acting up a bit so it’s time to replace them. Unfortunately these disappeared from the pick a parts here in AZ long ago and the fabric is probably too worn and frayed anyway so I had to buy an aftermarket set.

  12. T Mel

    Can I have it?

  13. Adam Clarke Adam T45 Staff

    Scotty, I’ve always had a soft spot for Nissans and Datsuns. I actually met my wife through a Nissan/Datsun owners club. We’ve just ticked over 30 years of marriage, so we’ve actually managed to outlast our collective Nissans!

    One of the big issues with early to mid 80’s Nissans was the quality of the steel used in the bodies. It varied wildly from car to car. In some cars it was extraordinarily rust prone, while in others the steel quality was really good. Having said that, if one has lasted this long, it will probably go on indefinitely.

    The attached picture is of my last Nissan, which is an Australian 1985 Bluebird Venturer (which sort-of makes sense given that I am in Australia!). This was literally a one owner little old lady car, and I rate it as one of the most comfortable vehicles that I’ve ever owned. I only grudgingly parted with it when I needed to buy a tow vehicle for my speedway car. I know that it’s still going strong, and I wish that I still had it.

    Your Sentra is a lovely little car Scotty. I wish you luck with your sale, and I’m sure that it will make the lucky new owner very happy.

  14. John D

    I rather enjoyed your article on the Renault. It is a pleasure to read something that is not written in text-ese. I think you write a fine article. It’s like you paid attention during high school English class.

  15. Mike

    I daily drive an 83 Nissan/Datsun Pulsar 5 door hatchback, which is very similar to this Sentra (so similar they discontinued the hatchback option on the Pulsar after one year only…1983).

    I love this Sentra, it would be a perfect addition to my Nissan garage…and it’s the same color as my Pulsar. Good luck with the sale!!

  16. Wojtek

    Have 84 Stanza/Sunny 1.7D, 5 gear, 3.5liter diesel per 100km, no rush drive ;)
    Will be around 1.5gal/100 miles?

  17. Another Bob

    I had an 88 Sentra that I drove the wheels off of. One of the most reliable cars that I’ve ever owned. Had a tiny little motor but I could pull an ATV in a 5X8 trailer and didn’t even have to downshift going up hills.

  18. Rube Goldberg

    Who gave you guff about the GTA? I think you are one of the best writers here. A little emotion and honesty, so lacking in our world today. Asian cars never did anything for me( even though I own one, and not too happy with it, but in all fairness, it DOES have almost 200k miles on it. My GMC Sonoma didn’t make it half that far without breaking in half) I never knew these were FWD, another thing I don’t care for, but as reliable as a wash machine. Living in the Rocky Mtns., I can say, a 1.6 motor just doesn’t cut it, but for level highway travel, can’t go wrong here. I’ve found, vintage Asian cars, or anything for that matter, there could be a parts issue, but to see a car like this, in this condition, is pretty rare, they didn’t last long in the “salt bath”. What else you got at “Crazy Scotty’s Place of Automobiles?

  19. OIL SLICK

    If it was an 89 or 90 model i’d be all over it

  20. cidevco Member

    Scotty I wish you the best on the sale. Of course it’s not red, it should have white walls, they only made 1,000,000 of these etc. etc. I hope that fills in some of the haters. Love your classic Nissan. BTW Thank you for all your help on the Plymouth Fury!!!

  21. Paul

    Someone needs to save these yesteryear throw aways… They need love too.

  22. Whippeteer

    I had a handmedown 86 from my mom. It was comfortable and reliable, but it didn’t like 66k in one year of driving and the head gasket went. Plenty of power, sometimes a little patience driving it in the hills and mountains of NY. I also had an 87 which was when they changed the body. 1983 was when they were going through a branding phase in the US changing the company name from Datsun to match the name used nearly everywhere else, Nissan.

  23. RichS

    I had the station wagon version of this car – same color, but mine was an ’85 (so it had the composite headlamps) and it was a slow, but darn sturdy and reliable little sucker that would pull down 30+ mpg and could haul a lot of crap with the back seat folded down. Sold it several years later only because we needed something bigger.

  24. Fred Bowers

    Sorry, just more foreign junk, not an American true barn find

  25. JimmyJ

    Anybody who calls a Japanese car “foreign junk” wouldn’t know a good reliable car if it ran them over!
    I remember I had a 83 civic and my buddy had a chevette.you could not compare those two cars, the only reason anybody bought a chevette is they didn’t drive a Japanese car probably because they were too ignorant to think somebody else could build a better car than the “good ol U S A”!

    • Rube Goldberg

      Bingo!!

  26. Classix Steel

    Now this is one car that needs to be buried like a time capsule and
    then draw a map of location! Take map and use it to start a fireplace fire and be done with it :-)

  27. Mountainwoodie

    These used to be everywhere in San Diego in the early Eighties……..probably with a slushbox, driven by lil ole ladies with grey buns and glasses.

    As humans we forget how much things change when they are right under our nose. Look at Scotty’s steed and compare it to your typical Nissan base toaster today. Like a Model A to a ’50 Shoebox; light years in development from drivetrain to interior finishes to aerodynamics.

    Hope it finds an interested owner.

  28. davew833

    Someday I’m going to find the passage from “wet Utah” where I live now to the mythical “dry Utah…”

  29. Dickie F

    Scotty I have owned over 60 vehicles in my over 60 years.
    I am a Chevy and VW guy, as I raced both makes.
    Yet as I look back at the all the Mercedes, Porsches, BMWs, Mazdas and Fords I ran 50 000 plus miles on, the most stubbornly reliable were the Nissans.

    They only required servicing, tyres and brake linings – not even oil, brake fluid or coolant top ups. They ran over 100 k miles.

    And yes. My next daily driver will be a Nissan.

  30. Wiley Robinson

    That brings back memories. My mother had an 82 Sentra and right after I got my license this was the “mom, can I borrow the car?” ride in my family. That only lasted a few months before I was given the family 76 Fiat 128 after it became so unreliable they were worried about my sister driving it and swapped with her. That Fiat and box of cheap Western Auto tools kindled my lifelong love of cars.

  31. DweezilAZ

    Best friend had an 84 just like this, but with cloth seats and in a bronze color.

    It rode very well for something so small.I didn’t care for the legs straight out and low butt position of the seats, but it was reliable and I liked the looks of it.

    It served him well. A 92 Sentra was it’s replacement and then an Altima and two Maximas.

  32. Llewellyn Keller

    I remember that within 5 years of introduction, most Nissans of this era that I’d see on the street were missing their trunk locks…just an empty hole where the lock should be. And that was in California, so no road salt, and minimal rust.

  33. Dave

    Did you mean $1,40 since that’s the right price

  34. John Humason

    My wife had one of these when we met. Hard to kill. It had 125k when we met; sold it at 210k to a friend who taught two of his kids how to drive in it. We ran SCCA National road rallies in it (even won a Porsche club rally once!) It did hot laps of IRP’s road course and took us all over the country. I’m also 6’5″ and also had to replace the flimsy driver’s seat, but got a set of buckets from a friend who was converting his Pulsar into a race car. Tough little car.

  35. Jubjub

    Drove one of these from Kentucky to Northern California right after high school stuffed with belongings. However, it didn’t have the Deluxe interior! Seems it may have been called a Sentra MPG.

    It wasn’t until years later, when I put a water pump on one in a friend’s front yard, that I appreciated their simplicity and ease of service.

    I pass by one parked on a side street from time to time. Humidity hasn’t been so kind to its rocker panels.

  36. Scotty Gilbertson Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Auction update: this car sold for… $1,000!

  37. Robert

    Have you came across anther nissan 1984 2door if so were do i need to go or call thanks

  38. Joel

    My parents bought theirs brand new in 1983. Early 83 they bought the 83 model and then late 83 they bought an 84. Both coupes and automatics. I was 6 years old at the time. Great little cars. My first car was an 83 5 speed hatchback I had bought for 50 dollars in 1996

  39. Ruben

    Hi Scotty, Wondering if you still have the Sentra?

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