MODULAR REAR ENDS
I didn't have to stray far for the first car I'm featuring today as it was parked on the top of the block my shop is on! The houses providing the backdrop have long been torn down to make way for a mid-rise development (sometimes these pics will languish in my phone or computer for months before the timing is right).
What we have here is a Nissan Pulsar NX from 1987-1988 in what I believe to be Champagne Pearl. 1987 was such a yawn-inducing year for the Nissan paint department that they offered a hypnotizing 3 beiges and 5 silvers.
This quirky little car is a design footnote remembered for its ability to be transformed from sporty coupe to mini station wagon due to its removable modular rear end. It is also one of the most '80s rides out there.
Looks like Pulsar's seen some shit. Look at that groggy half-stare and rumpled face. Pulsar grew up on the docks and has lived the hardscrabble life of an immigrant in Brooklyn.
Discerning the exact year on these is difficult as not much changed between '87-'89. The only clue I could find on this beater is that it has hubcaps that seem to have been offered for only 2 years.
You've gotta love the door handle placement on this thing!
From this angle you can just make out the lines separating the 2 removable panels that make up the roof. Take those out and you've got yourself a nifty targa top.
There's no hiding the fact that the gray color of this replacement piece means it came from a donor car. This is the modular rear end I was talking about; this could be quickly removed and replaced with one that continued the roofline all the way back to the edge of the trunk, making a mini wagon in the process. I think the way to do it is to take the roof and trunk off on nice days and cruise around in an almost-convertible. The wagon piece was known as the Sportbak. It was available only in the U.S. and Japan, and is exceedingly rare these days (in fact it looks like the prices for most Sportbaks are similar whether you're getting just the piece or an entire car with it attached!).
Yes. Those are the greatest taillights to come out of the 1980s. The only thing more '80s than this car is the Nissan Pulsar generation immediately before this one. The '82 to '86 Pulsar was so angular that it makes this thing look round! Perhaps the most audacious item ever in Nissans quest for sharp angles came in the form of hubcaps briefly available that had a large square with grid lines on it in the middle. Why make more of the wheel round than necessary?
We'll back away from this little bucket and head down the hill to the Gowanus Houses where our next car was found:
This is a 1989 version of the same ride which is somehow escaping the meter maids even though it's sporting license plates no longer legal in New York.
I can't get enough of these taillights! It's like every Jennifer Gray and Molly Ringwald movie condensed into an automotive detail.
That sweet metallic tape continues over the entire ride in dual stripe action (big shout-out for cutting the tape to fully reveal the N in NX!). All across this fair city you can find hoopties that have been adorned with dollar store trinkets. This one even has a little flag!
The Gowanus Houses were behind me in these pics, which were the dangerous projects referred to throughout the movie Smoke. These days the neighborhood's much more mild, but I still didn't feel it prudent to take any interior shots. I seem to recall it being filled up with garbage though.
I never thought about the shapes of fuel filler doors until I encountered one that was perfectly round.
These cars are very light and have tiny engines. The base was a 1.6 liter, but you could opt for the mighty 1.8 liter instead if you insisted on commanding 131 horsepower as opposed to 122! That's right; the engine upgrade earned you a whopping 9hp.
This is just lazy! You were in the store buying white spray paint, so I know you could've gotten some tape to cover the lens with. You even bought silver tape so you could have metal suspenders on your ride! But then you just spray white right over the turn signals? LAZY.
I'm not quite sure how you could mess up the tape line this bad unless you added it while the roof panels were off the car. I don't think that's what happened though; I think this shade-tree customizer started at one end and just pressed it down as they went along, only to find it didn't match up once they reached that point. Then they tried to peel up the tape as you can see from where it's torn away only to throw their hands up and forfeit completely.
Even though it's a tad rough around the edges this Pulsar is vastly nicer than the first one. I checked the color offerings for '89 and in true Nissan fashion they had 4 individual whites; Pana White, Mint White, Ivory White, and Super White. I'm pretty confident this is Pana White.
Well there we have it; 2 examples of a car that can each become 2 different cars. I had a 1988 Nissan 200SX for a while that was quick, comfortable, and handled really well, but I don't know how these would fare in comparison. All I know is that there are at least 2 of them out there keeping '80s dreams alive.