Driving Impression: 1987 Nissan 200SX SE V6 | Hemmings Daily

31 Mar 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Driving Impression: 1987 Nissan 200SX SE V6 | Hemmings Daily
Nissan 200SX

Driving Impression: 1987 Nissan 200SX SE V6

Note: I write up driving impressions of virtually every car I photograph, within a couple of days of the drive, so everything is fresh in my memory. Occasionally, because of the constraints of format (ie, buyers’ guide) the prepared text doesn’t run. Now, thanks to the joys of the blogosphere, it can.

The wide full-frame door invites you inside; it’s surprisingly light to pull shut considering its size, and concludes with a light thunk and a vacuum seal. The seats appear deeply bolstered but time has taken a toll, and they’re a bit mushy to the touch. There’s plenty of room for American-sized frames, despite the petite exterior; our head didn’t brush the headliner, and shoulder room was surprisingly generous.

The indigo-and-plaid seating surfaces remains supple and are in no danger of feeling threadbare; the headrest actually manages to give your head a place to rest, rather than hitting you square in the shoulder blades, as is so often the case. Style-wise, the shapes presented on the dash and door panels neatly split the hard right angles typical of the era and the upcoming bizarre-blobbo jello-mould interiors of the next decade; if there’s an angle to be seen here, it’s at 45 degrees.

Visibility is clear to all of the important gauges, and the sunroof helps illuminate what might otherwise be a dark cabin: The overhead glass means that the A-pillars and the top of the windshield all form a distended H-shape. The hood bulge gives notice of intent, though the pop-up headlights remain a quaint reminder of what sporty used to be. (The last volume production car on Earth with pop-up headlights was the 2004 Corvette.)

Model year 1987 was that brief, joyous time when the tyranny of the 85mph speedometer ended (this one reads up to 125) and the absurd motorized-mouse automatic shoulder-belt monster had not yet hoved into view. Ergonomic issues are minor, but still present: There’s a healthy dead pedal at your left foot, but the transmission tunnel cramps your right as it creeps across the driver’s footwell further than it ought to, trying to edge your foot off the gas pedal.

Twist the key and you’re presented with a grumbly little idlethe sound is that of a content kitty, and certainly more than you’d expect out of a 200SX. The owner insists that it’s the cherry-bomb muffler he installed: enough to give it a satisfied little burble at idle, but not enough to coax it into mimicking a Top Fuel-prepped Hemi.

Indeed, most of the noise seems to be coming from the exhaust, though when you stand outside the car the sound is at a lower-than-expected register also. Idle settles in at 900 rpm until you turn on an accessoryheadlights, interior fan, what have youat which point it jumps to 1,100 rpm. Somewhere in Japan, an engineer understands why this is so.

Brake-torque it, even a little, and the independent rear squats and settles in, ready to pounce. The owner repeatedly quoted to us the opinion of just about every other magazine tester who had taken one for a spin“could use a little more power,” went the mantraand a chassis dyno run putting out exactly 100 horsepower at the rear wheels would seem to confirm this. But actually driving it was another matter.

The Six jumps to 2,500 instantly when you get on the gas, and pulls hard to its 5,500 rpm redline; surely it feels more at home and sporting here than it did in the base 300ZX from which it was plucked.

Nissan 200SX

The automatic transmission is a little reticent to downshift by itself on the highway; you#8217;ve really got to mash the throttle to get it to pay attention. An OD cancel button on the shifter will help you keep it in Third on ramps. For our drive, the suspension felt just plain worn out; we were warned by the owner that this was the case.

The OE shocks appear to have little left to givethey manage to be simultaneously rough and floaty over bumps. New shocks and bushings have the potential to transform this particular Nissan, and with the KYBs installed after our shoot, we#8217;ll wager that it was far more controlled.

The steering wheel was chunky and pliable at the hand, but the leather was no longer attached to the rim itself, making the steering wheel a changeable place to hold onto in the corners. There also wasn’t quite the feel we might have liked coming from the front wheels either, though you can’t argue with the tiller’s quick reaction to your inputs.

That said, the turning circle was surprisingly tight; even with 60-series no-name rubber, it’s as if a spike were driven through the middle of the car and it pivoted around its axis. You’d think that having that big Six hanging out at the nose would do terrible things to the handling, but even with the tired suspension, we didn’t find this to be the case.

Mild understeer was present, but we could have induced oversteer and gone drifting up the freeway on-ramps at any point we’d chosen. In someone else’s unrebuilt 100,000-plus mile car that we just got into, however, we thought otherwise. Those supposedly mushy seat bolsters, by the way, work just fine while you’re having at ityou’re not going anywhere.

With the amount of attention foisted upon the later S13 and S14 generations of Silvia, we#8217;re a little surprised that the S12 doesn#8217;t get more respect. Why this languishes while, say, AE86 Corollas are quickly rolling into the realm of unobtanium, is beyond me.

Check out the February 2009 issue of Hemmings Sports and Exotic Car for a Buyer#8217;s Guide on this 200SX.

Nissan 200SX
Nissan 200SX
Nissan 200SX

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