Sport Line – 1987-1990 Nissan Sunny Coupé

Ever wondered where to draw the line between econobox and sports coupe? Nissan drew it here.

With this ’88 Nissan we’re safely back into tape graphics. Parked in the garage I frequent, it’s a rough and beaterish example of the doorstop-shaped little Nissan with humble mechanicals.

In this post, I show this Coupé in detail and reminisce of one closer to home.

There it is, in all its matte’d red glory, rust and 13″ wheels. What was sold here as the Sunny Coupé was more closely a Sentra something; the dashboard is directly lifted from the Sentra and the looks are edgier than the more Euro-Japanese N13 Sunny that was foisted on us. But I’ve been hiding the party piece of this car so far:

There. It. Is. Is it a rear spoiler? Is it a snow shovel? Has it always been pink?

Is it even remotely useful for anything other than gathering ice?

This pre-facelift, carbed eight-valve has something to the tune of 80 horses up front, with which it won’t set anybody’s loins on fire. The whitened graphics and peeking rust are balanced by the rear plate, which is screwed on crooked.

Add a pair of auxiliary lights and we have the automotive embodiment of ungainly geekdom, underlined by the skinny tires.

Why do I give an actual damn about it then? Isn’t it a mistakenly-designed piece of FWD forgettableness with nothing to speak for it? Nah.

You see, I spent my formative driving years behind the wheel of one. We got a post-facelift ’90 tragimatic in the family in 2001, with 114something k on the clock. After I got my licence, I proceeded to hoon the living daylights out of it, and it withstood all those handbrake drifts and go-pedal slams admirably. I got stuck in snow with it with a girl in the passenger seat, scraped a rusty brick Volvo which had its rear quarter crumble in a dust cloud of filler, maxed it out on a motorway on tiddly little winter tires such as those on the article’s car, whatever one usually does. It then got passed on to my brother, who did mostly the same, merely with less finesse in his execution. It received a ton of welding a couple of years ago and got repainted to get rid of the rust bubbles showing up; just that the work was done by a backyard shop and rust is now starting to show again here and there.

I got a text from my brother last week, telling me the Nissan had failed inspection due to underbody rust, oil leaks, busted muffler and whatnot. He’s not sure if he wants to put money into the thing, even if the chain-driven 12-valve CA16 is nigh-on unkillable and the trans still shifts the same as it has always done. Here are a few pics from a couple years ago, to show what these look like when they’re not as nerdy as the parking garage example is.

I don’t think the Coupé’ll face the crusher yet, as it’s still clean and the issues it has can be rectified. The best thing one could do would probably be to store it somewhere, where it could sit untroubled for a while. But the bespoilered beater? It’s thumbs down from me.


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