The 1980s and ’90s were a tumultuous time for the passenger car market. Dodge, the giant of the minivan realm, was quickly seeing its three-row, long-wheelbase formula become standard operating procedure for the segment. Outliers like the Honda Civic Wagon and this Axxess didn’t play ball with that formula, and, lacking that all-important third row (in the U.S., at least), never realized great sales success. Case in point: 1990 was the only year it was available. Find this 1990 Nissan Axxess AWD for sale in Reno, NV for $2,700 via craigslist.
Estate sale jokes are usually crude and tasteless, so I’ll
refrain limit myself to one: The thought of ever selling this rare hauler scared the owner to death. Would you part with a five-speed, all-wheel-drive tall wagon powered by Nissan’s KA24DE engine? That truckish SOHC inline-four, which has helped S13s slide around parking lots for decades and ends up in the occasional 510, comes with just 138 horsepower. With such a huge aftermarket, though, you could easily double that figure and end up with the baddest mini-GT-R in the elementary school parking lot. Or swap in an RB26DETT for similar results.
Look closely at the circumstances surrounding the Axxess, and its limited sales start to make sense. A third row was offered in Japanese versions, but not here. The Toyota Previa, Japan’s other AWD spaceshuttle van-mobile, was introduced in 1990 as well. And the market wasn’t flooded with segment-splitting “lifestyle vehicles” with alphanumeric designations. It was either a van or it wasn’t – no CUV/SAV/SLV nonsense.
Twin sliding doors were apparently too much to ask from most players in the first generation of minivans. Graciously, the Axxess has them. This one also has two sets of wheels and tires, exactly two small rust spots, and all the service manuals and paperwork to quell buyer’s remorse. As it sits, this Axxess is ready to terrorize the Japanese coast, or the carpool lane. Even with 237,000 miles, its exceptional condition makes it perfect for the momzilla in your life. Just don’t call her that to her face.
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