Curbside Classic: 1991 Nissan Cedric (Y30) SGL Wagon – Just Can’t Get Enough

“This again? Hey T87, we get it. You have a thing for those Nissan wagons. But come on man, there must be other JDM beauties you can showcase with your customary sagacity, vim and élan.” Well, that’s awfully kind of you. But no, the other JDM beauties I have in stock are not necessarily more interesting than these wagons. I just can’t get over how cool these Y30 wagons are, and this one was very much willing and able to be photographed, so here we go. Again.

It’s unclear to me how many of these were made exactly, though I do keep running into them, be they Gloria or Cedric. Those are two completely identical flavours of the same thing, the only difference being the badges and logos. In the present case, we have a bone-stock Cedric complete with an uncharacteristic amount of rust.

This patchy oxidization makes this particular example quite the outlier. Many of these cars exist in “van” form and work for a living; this one is a wagon, with a 3rd row of seats in the back. No matter what type they are, the overwhelming majority of the ones I’ve seen so far are in very decent working condition. Japanese owners are usually very diligent about treating rust on their cars. Whoever owns this has other ideas.

And that’s fine! This is probably what most Y30 wagons would now look like if this model had been imported in Europe or North America back in the day. Although looking at that rust with a little more attention, there are some odd features. For one thing, you’d expect the wheel wells to have been affected by the metal cancer, but judging by this (admittedly glancing) look at the rear left wheel, and it looks pretty solid…

Of course, these cars are pretty solid. That’s why I keep seeing them around. Designed back when Nissan were on a winning streak, the Y30 Cedric / Gloria wagon and van was launched, alongside the saloon and hardtop sedan, back in 1983. But unlike its four-door stablemates, the leaf-sprung live-axle van/ wagon kept going until August 1999, with surprisingly few changes. One notable addition was a third brake light in the rear hatch in 1994, which this car does not have.

This state of arrested development is also evident inside. I’m not 100% sure when this particular car was made, but if you only had a photo of that cabin to go by, what would your guesstimate be? The HVAC controls and radio look like they could have come off a late ‘70s Pioneer pre-amp. We had one of those when I was growing up, I’d expect those three chunky dials to say “Volume,” “Bass” and “Treble”…

It’s hard to tell from the photo I snapped, so here’s a factory pic: the acreage of plastic wood trim on the dash rivals the one that can be found of the wagon’s flanks.

In the back, there should be a big sign saying “Welcome to Velour-ville” This being a higher trim version, we get power windows everywhere, too.

The boot area was mercifully free of any clutter, so I could also document that. Those panel on the floor turn into third row of seats that is both facing the wrong way and has no footwell whatsoever, so not the most useful of the lot. The classic Peugeot wagons did it better, and even GM’s FWD A-body wagons of the time were more passenger-friendly (I often rode in the back the paternal Pontiac 6000, so for once I know what I’m talking about).

There was no trim nameplate on the rear hatch, so all we can do is take a look at the brochure (dating from 1991, it seems) and turn to the wagons page, as there are many more basic grades than those three, but they’re all classed as vans. The only one that has the same hubcaps is the SGL, so let’s go with that.

Engine-wise, the only option for these higher grade cars was the 2-litre V6. It’s a fairly tame version of the VG20E motor, obviously: only 115hp to motivate 1430kg’s worth of metal, glass and brown shag carpeting.

As I understand it, the fender mirrors are optional. And it’s great that whoever ordered this Cedric ticked that particular box: these cars really look the part with those big goofy chrome appendages. Bring on the bling, I say! Once the headlights are switched on, the “dingus”™ (© D. Stern, Esq.) would add two tiny green lights in the driver’s field of view, just below the reflections of the aforementioned mirrors. Standing unlit and irrelevant in the midst of it all, the hood ornament just cannot compete.


The absolute show-topper has to be the retractable left side window. All that is required is to turn the key in the C-pillar, and the window goes down electrically. I’m pretty sure you cannot operate this feature from inside the car. The idea was to simplify access to the cargo area from the curbside – a genius feature that several Nissan wagons had once upon a time.

The right rear window, for its part, is simply fixed in place. But that side of the wagon also has its little quirk in the shape of a retractable radio antenna, coupled with another “Cedric-Continental” emblem…

The Y30 wagon has a dedicated following, comprising three general populations: original owners who pamper their steed, youngsters who restomod them or keep them stock. Our feature car is likely in that third category, as it was re-registered fairly recently. But this one was decidedly not given the appropriate amount of TLC over the past three decades, though maybe it’s in the process of being carefully “ripened” to be turned into a rat-rod. Patina is slowly becoming a thing here, though it’s so against the grain of local mentalities that it will never be as big in Japan as in other countries.

Whatever the case may be, these Y30 wagons always make my day when I catch one. The Toyota equivalent, the S130 Crown wagon, is much less charismatic, as it lost its ‘80s looks along the way. With its mock-Detroit looks, its rock-solid reliability and its ultra-plush interior, the Nissan Y30 is just plain irresistible. So here’s to the last post I go waxing quixotic about these beauties… maybe…


Related posts:


Curbside Classic: 1995 Nissan Gloria (Y30) Wagon – Nissanosaurus Rex

CC Capsule: 1994 Nissan Gloria (Y30) V-20E SGL Wagon – Indulging In Overindulgence