Curbside Classic Capsule: 1987 Nissan Pulsar NX Sportbak – Ask And You Shall Receive

On June 21, 2018, I posted a Cohort shot of a Nissan Pulsar NX with the Sportbak, titled: When Was the Last Time You Saw a Nissan Pulsar With the Sportbak? I can answer that question now, if a bit belatedly: on August 26, 2018, almost exactly two months after I asked the question, since I had not seen one in ages previously. And here’s the proof.

As to why it’s taken me a year and a half to post it, I have no answer, except that my files are full of many hundreds of cars I haven’t posted. And what made me think of this one just now? I have no answer also.

Enough of the questions; let’s take a look at the elusive Pulsar NX Sportbak (Nissan EXA N13), billed as “the world’s first multiple convertible”.

The gen2 Pulsar NX appeared in 1986 for MY 1987, as a follow-up to the very angular and rather stubby NX gen1 (EXA N12). It was a decidedly better looking sporty coupe of the FWD persuasion, as was common at the time (think Celica and Prelude). Not surprisingly, it was designed in Nissan’s California studios under the direction of Jerry Hirshberg. But its claim to fame was that it was convertible; not in the usual way, but in the ability to convert from a coupe into a shooting brake. The removable T tops also added to its convertability. Thus the claim.

The origins of this are seen quite clearly in this 1975 Prima concept, by Ghia. Ford decided not to bite. Nissan did.

The front end with its flip up headlights is typical of the smooth, clean and anonymous styling trends of the time, and are a logical follow-up to the more angular version of its predecessor. Under the hood were two versions Nissan’s E-Series fours; a 1.6 L SOHC mill for base versions, and a 1.6 or 1.8 L (1988-1989) DOHC job for those wearing the…

…appropriate badging. Since this one proclaims 1.6 liters, we can pin it down to a 1987. Unless I’ve mixed something up.

The slanted C pillar is of course highly reminiscent of Nissan’s Pathfinder of the same general vintage, whose styling originated at the same source in San Diego.

Here’s a better view of the Sportbak. It’s not exactly hard to see why these were a flop; who was going to spend a not inconsiderable amount of money for an alternate rear end? Or maybe one could buy it with just the Sportbak and not the coupe? Certainly the coupe version was drastically more common. These were rare even in So Cal at the time.

The interior is pretty typical, meaning that high quality fabric that seems to wear like the proverbial iron. And the pods that extended from the dash for numerous finger-tip controls. That was quite the fad at the time, eh?

Admittedly, this Sportbak is being put to good use. Of course the coupe could readily carry this too, if the plug were pulled.

I’ve saved the best for last. Who would expect to see something like this on a Pulsar Sportbak? I’m still dazzled.