Side Impact: 1987 Nissan Stanza Wagon

B-pillars, we don’t need no stinkin’ b-pillars! If you like origami, then you’ll enjoy this 1987 Nissan Stanza wagon that has plenty of angles and sharp lines, and with one hard hit, could fold up to make a real interesting shape. Only in the ’80s could something so weird have been produced. Find this 93K mile blue box here on craigslist in Ventura, CA for $3000.

We like unicorns around here. Like last weeks Previa, this Stanza wagon could have been optioned with 4WD and a 5-speed stick. This example received an automatic and FWD, but that probably means less to go wrong. Minivans have the potential to rise in value, especially clean originals like this Stanza. These Nissans kind of came and left in the night without anyone really taking notice. They might have blended in with traffic thirty years ago, but I bet this mini-minivan could stand out at any Japanese car show today.

Powered by a cast-iron 2.0L fuel injected four, drag strips and street racing are not where this Stanza, or Prairie as the rest of the world called it, really shined. Where it excelled was maximizing cargo and passenger space. Room for seven with those awesome rear jump seats, the ability to fold front and rear seats down to make a bed, and the wide open space of no b-pillars means only your imagination was the limit for what this four-wheeled box could do. I could easily see a three room cabin with tents coming off both doors.

This might be the cleanest Stanza wagon still in existence. Never been sat in rear seats, barely creased driver side velour, pretty two-tone blue paint, perfect glass, new tires, and many essential repairs completed means all you have to do is drive and enjoy. Not a crack, scrape, or rust spot to be found and the engine looks clean and factory fresh. About the only thing I would do is find some sportier Nissan wheels to replace the faded plastic hubcaps. Some might see a fish bowl, but I see a vehicular bento box. Is this one too much a stretch for future collectability? This nerd doesn’t think so.

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Comments

  1. Scotty Gilbertson Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Arrrggggg.. I tried to snap this up last night but it was gone already! It would have gone perfectly with my ’86 4WD 5-speed Stanza wagon. https://flic.kr/p/YsePBA Those rear jump seats are as rare as it gets. It’s nice to see that I’m not the only nerd here, Corey; nice write-up!

    1
    • Jack

      I have an 88 stanza wagon. I’m looking for front suspension. If your a “nerd” I’ll be able to find what I need

  2. Corey Kemendo Corey K. Member

    Here’s another just to see how unique they can be:

    https://salem.craigslist.org/cto/d/1987-nissan-stanza-wagon-4wd/6347798204.html

  3. Dovi65

    It’s a cool anti-minivan. Tho scary how wide open the sides are. Hard to believe that passed NHTSA safety standards

  4. Eric S.

    These were called Nissan Multi in Canada

  5. Gunner

    Here you go Scotty! Not as nice but it is only 1K! Maybe it has the jumpseats!

    https://boise.craigslist.org/cto/d/nissan-stanza/6380747913.html

  6. Leon

    Hey. When’s last time anyone saw a Nissan Axxess ?? That was a short lived model

  7. Maestro1 Member

    Corey I would have jumped on this but it was sold. Someone got a really nice car for running around town. I’ve driven one, not wonderful in the grunt department but certainly excellent in traffic, and city streets.

  8. Dick

    I had one exactly like this for about 8 years. My daily driver through the 90s. Loved to open all 4 doors at once to show the cavernous interior. Dual sliding rear doors of course – way before any large vans had them.

    I’m not surprised that this went quickly – I never had a vehicle that got so many unsolicited offers to buy it from people I didn’t know in shopping center parking lots. When it came time to sell it years later, I just called one of those people and it was gone the next day.

    These were known in some Nissan circles as “Wally Wagons”. Pretty tight in the engine compartment, so working on it was sometimes a challenge.

  9. Bryan W Cohn

    I worked at a Datsun/Nissan dealer in ’85-’86 when the Stanza Wagon came out. We called ’em “Goonie Wagons”!

    Hilariously versatile with the folding seats, sliding doors. Pretty decent to drive if memory serves me.

    Would make a great van to live in while traveling the country for a summer or year or forever even? :)

  10. chad

    checks all the boxes like the MVP/Eagle of that era (even the Honda 4wd wagon & more).
    All the ‘pre mini vans’ and sourly missed by this poster

  11. M.T.K.

    I had a buddy who’s folks had one of these growing up. I will never forget the sound of the alarm buzzer if you tried to open the sliding door when the gas tank flap was open. Theirs was the 5 speed 4wd. I think they traded it in for a 5 speed ford Astro van. Ahhhh Astro van blue, what a color.

  12. Derek

    Great visibility you can’t say that about any new car most you can’t even see out of …no need for back up cameras on these. I like this one funky and cute in a weird way.

  13. Datsuntech

    Here’s a pic of my Nissan Multi. The best winter vehicle I have ever owned, bar none. Shift on the fly 4X4 with an awesome button right in the middle of the 5 speed shifter. The dual sliding rear doors more than a full 15 years before the Dodge Caravan and it hit our shores 2 years before the Caravan. This “minivan” deserves serious respect and gets very little. To say I love this old beater is an understatement of epic proportions. OK, might have gone a bit far with this one, but it truly was a great vehicle that even my wife liked to drive(sometimes).

    1
    • Scotty Gilbertson Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      That’s great to hear, Datsuntech! My 1986 4WD 5-speed Stanza wagon is totally rust-free so I hate to drive it in Minnesota winters and cram a bunch of road salt up underneath everything, but it’s tempting just to see how it handles the snow. My winter vehicle, a 1997 Subaru Outback that we bought new 355,000 miles ago, literally runs like new but it’s getting so rusty that it probably isn’t safe anymore. Not to mention, I’m in Chicago with it for a few days and the “check-engine” light just came on; ugh. It’s time for a new winter car.

  14. Alexander

    Do/did you work for Nissan, Datsuntech? Come to Middle Tennessee and visit their Heritage Collection!

    • Datsuntech

      @Alexander I am a former Nissan tech who has a love for Datsun 510s, D21 pickups and AWD Nissans. I have a bit of a collection of my own and I definitely need to come to Tennessee to have a look. Where exactly is it? I can’t seem to find any info on the web. I haven’t been to Tennessee since 1999, so I’m sure things have changed.

      Brock

      1
      • Alexander

        The Nissan Heritage Collection is housed on one entire floor of the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville. Since Nissan is headquartered near Nashville, it was only natural for them to put all their significant vehicles nearby when they moved from California around 2008. There should be info on the web for both the Lane Museum as well as Nissan Heritage. They also take some cars on the road in a custom trailer for things like the national Z-Con and Amelia Island.

  15. Alexander

    True story:
    My college girlfriend, when she got out of Clemson University in 1986, went shopping with her father to get her a car for starting her trek to grad school in Texas (the less said about that, the better). They ultimately decided on this very car, but the local Nissan dealer was such a jerk about the deal that they went over to the Chrysler/Dodge dealer and got a Dodge Colt Vista instead–which was a re-badged Mitsubishi “shrunken minivan” that, like this car, could in theory seat seven (two tiny, the back seat intimately), with “back bed” seat fold-down option, etc., and the long butt of jokes on NPR’s “Car Talk.” She ran that thing into the ground, finally retiring it eleven years later.

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