Junkyard Gem: 1983 Datsun Maxima, with tiny phonograph player

A Maxima from the final model year before Datsun became Nissan.

  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
We saw a discarded 1987 Nissan Maxima in this series last summer, and its array of futuristic electronic hardware and general science-fictiony attitude says a lot about Japanese car-industry optimism in the 1980s. If you go back a few years earlier, though, you'll find that the rear-wheel-drive, Z-car-based Maxima is even cooler. Here's one from the Datsun marque's last year in the United States, spotted in a San Francisco Bay Area self-service wrecking yard.

Datsun cars in the United States started getting "By Nissan" badges starting in the early 1980s, as part of their "The Name Is Nissan" rebranding program. For the 1984 model year, Nissan became the official marque name, making this Maxima one of the final Datsun-badged cars sold in the United States (actually, little Datsun nameplates remained, below the Nissan badges, in 1984).

The Maxima name itself started out as the "810 Maxima," via the old Datsun 810 name. The 810 part of the name was deleted from American-market cars for the 1982 model year. So that brand-new Maxima you're driving today has a fascinating ancestry.

The upscale Datsuns of this era came with the amazing-for-the-time Voice Warning System, which used a tiny phonograph record to play announcements about such things as keys left in ignition, low fuel, and other problems that old-fashioned cars used warning lights to indicate. I grab these whenever I find them in junkyard cars, so I went right to the underside of the dash on the driver's side and yanked the one in this car.

Another one for my collection!

Digital dashboard? Of course! In 1983, this stuff was breathtakingly leading-edge.

When a car's owner fixes a massively leaky radiator with lots of epoxy, you know that car already has one tire in the junkyard.

The chassis for this car is closely related to that in the 280ZX, and the engine is a 2.4-liter L24, same displacement as the engine in the earlier 240Z but with modern (for 1983) electronic fuel injection.

Nissan was all about the future around this time. Major Motion!

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Nissan Maxima Information

Nissan Maxima

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