- Image courtesy of @frankybie/@jeungei_photography

This is the Greatest Nissan That You've Never Heard About

This should be the face of RADWood

The unicorn is a legendary creature that has been mentioned in texts and various works of art since ancient civilizations, that much is clear. An automotive unicorn, on the other hand, is a car that you can never see yourself owning, whether that’s because of its price or overall rarity. Everyone has their own automotive unicorn, spawned from our incredibly varied tastes in cars. Since I’m the one writing this, I’m gonna tell you about one of my unicorns. Now, one of my unicorns just so happens to be one of the most unique and beyond RAD automobiles to ever come out of Japan’s Nissan Motor Corporation. This, my friends, is the Nissan N13 EXA (or Pulsar NX in America) and I got the chance to drive one.

A week or so ago, I spotted a red Nissan Pulsar NX with the Sportbak rear hatch design going down the freeway. The Pulsar was one of Nissan’s mostly-forgotten sports cars. While the unique and quirky design of both generations was enough to set it apart from its competition, it had one ace up its sleeve that really pushed it over the top: modularity. The Pulsar could either wear a coupé-style hatch or a station wagon-like canopy called the Sportbak depending on the configuration the owner desired at the time. Yes, really.

Image courtesy of @frankybie/@jeungei_photography

Image courtesy of @frankybie/@jeungei_photography

Having only seen this car in the results of Google Images searches, I immediately snapped a picture and posted it on my Instagram when I got home in the hopes that someone would know the owner. While that didn’t happen, one of my followers referred me to PJ (@streetakira), ANOTHER Pulsar NX owner who just so happened to live an hour away from me. The internet is a powerful force. A few days later, a 1988 Nissan Pulsar NX dressed in Vail White pulled up to the museum, and with the keys in my hand, I was ready to go.

Right off the bat, this thing is not fast, but it’s raring to go. Even with the top-of-the-line 1.8-liter CA18DE under the hood, it only makes 131 hp which is 1 hp shy of what my 2013 Corolla makes. In the same vein as my Corolla, it is more than happy to rev its pistons out and make enough noise to at least give the impression of speed. Putting your foot to the floor gets a sigh from the engine as it hesitantly pushes the rev needle up the scale and eventually the transmission joins in and moves itself through the gears. Steering, on the other hand, is fairly sharp and seems like it would make for a fun handling car through twisty mountain roads. Unfortunately, downtown Sacramento doesn’t have twisty mountain roads and my 30-minute lunch break didn’t allow for such a road trip but take my word for it.

Image courtesy of @frankybie/@jeungei_photography

Image courtesy of @frankybie/@jeungei_photography

The exterior is an entirely different story. From the slats over the taillights to the raked hatch, the turbine wheels, the upright door latch, and the POP-UP HEADLIGHTS BABYYYY, this car oozes 1980s sex appeal. Nothing on this earth can convince me this car didn’t come straight out of Bladerunner and into the museum’s parking lot. The interior is very driver-focused and the many controls clustered around the steering wheel bring to mind a MK4 Supra or the 1983 Isuzu Impulse that was recently donated to us. Don’t worry, I’ll tell you all about that one soon enough.

Image courtesy of @frankybie/@jeungei_photography

Image courtesy of @frankybie/@jeungei_photography

By now, I imagine you’ve all realized how lucky PJ is to drive such an awesome and seldom-seen masterpiece from the land of the rising sun. It gets even better though because he bought this car a few years for only $3,000 from a guy on Craigslist who didn’t know what he had! If that doesn’t wrap the whole thing up in a nice bundle of “Craiglist Chance”, nothing else ever will. With no modifications having been done to this car since new, it remains an incredible example of the quirky and futuristic nature of what manufacturers put on the market in the 80s. Huge thanks to PJ for driving an hour to let me experience his car and I hope this helped some of you find your new JDM dream car.

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Comments (41)

  • Guy I went to high school with had one.

    And then about 10 years later, a friend of mine bought the GTI-R (that may have been registered as a NX to skirt the 25 year importation law in the USA). Then a few years after that another friend of mine picked up a GTI-R RA (homologation special!)

      1 month ago
  • I had friends in High school that had these, they weren’t all that. My ‘86 Acura Integra… much nicer.

      1 month ago
  • I remember those , the interchangeable tops were cool, you could also remove the rear section entirely along with the T-tops and drive it as a convertible, although you better check the forecast first because you can't bring the hatch with you if you do that.

      1 month ago
  • Lol... They were crap

      1 month ago
  • I knew what it was from the story cover photo.

      1 month ago
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