35 Years of the Nissan Maxima

35 Years of the Nissan Maxima

This year celebrates 35 years of the Nissan Maxima (or as it was originally called the Datsun 810), its long been Nissan's flagship car. Pictured is the latest Nissan Maxima at this years Chicago Auto Show.

Between 1985 & 1986 my parents sold their General Motors cars and bought new Nissans. My mother bought a Sentra wagon and my late father bought a 200SX.

It opened a new world for me and our family and friends of Japanese import cars.

My father had two close friends who in the following months bought new Nissan Maximas and then we really saw how good Japanese imports could be.

Those cars were the second generation Maximas (1984-1988), and man they were so different than the other cars we were used to. They had an aggressive stance, yet had luxury features too. I remember they had fairly low profile General tires which was unheard of in 1987.

I remember in 1989 Nissan brought out a new Maxima and called it “The four door sports car” and even had a sticker on the rear window “4DSC”, to reiterate the point.

Overnight it seemed that car was everywhere, I was going to an orthodontist at that time over on 81st & King Drive in Chatham on the south side of Chicago and all the people who worked there had a “Max”, as they called it.

When the fourth generation Maxima came out in 1995 it seemed to take it to another level, I remember sitting in one at the Chicago Auto Show either in 1995 or ’96 and noticing how clean the interior was, not clumsy with a whole lot of buttons and a great display for the stereo.

The next year my cousin Mike returned from being stationed overseas in the Air Force and brought a Maxima SE back (and it was refreshed in 1997), and my father and I were impressed with the lines and how sleek that car was.

It took us back to when we had our first Nissans and the cool stylings and good performance those cars has.

Funny after that the Nissan Altima was front and center stage for Nissan until 2004 when a new Maxima came out and it was different than anything on the road (honestly still is), it had that slender piece of glass in the middle of the roof instead of a regular sunroof.

A friend of mine who was a car dealer got one and we took the car out and it had that 3.5 V6, which then was making about 265 horsepower, had great performance and handling, it rode ok but had a huge display for the radio, kinda like my old dad's 1986 Nissan 200SX.

Seats were good though, it was comfy for a quick car.

I just read in Motor Trend the other day about cars that may be quick but don’t do well slow, meaning as a daily driver or in stop and go traffic.

I’ve found with some cars (especially with low profile tires), it may be rough commuting with that car but the Maxima always seemed to balance performance and comfort pretty well. Usually leaning more to the performance side like a Mazda 6 but with more luxury.

The Maxima is kind of a niche car, it won’t sell in huge numbers like a Toyota Camry or Honda Accord because it is more sporty now is it a true four door sports car?

I reserve that more for the BMW 3 or 5 series but it’s up there and ahead of its Japanese counterparts because you don’t feel like you have to race it everytime you get in it.

Yes it likes to go fast but there’s no instinctual feel to drag race to the grocery store in it, unless you really want to.

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