After delighting back-road thrill-seekers and autocrossers alike, the Datsun Bluebird left the U.S. market, never to be seen again. Back in its home country, it matriculated into the all-wheel-drive rally fighter you see here, until bloat and anonymity set in, and its role in the marketplace was filled by a nameless front-drive appliance. Here at the peak of its career is the SSS-R variant, as legally protected as white-collar crime, thanks to the 25-year law. Find this 1988 Nissan Bluebird SSS-R in Las Vegas, NV for $8,500 via craigslist.
In 1988, the automotive landscape in Japan wasn’t the rally-filled free-for-all it would become a decade later. Offerings from other Japanese competitors like the Mitsubishi EVO wouldn’t join the cause until 1992, although we imagine more than a few early Gallant VR-4s squaring off against one of these.
The 1.8-liter CA18DET, a turbocharged and intercooled twin-cam four-cylinder, is a familiar mill. It was last seen on American soil in S12s as an SR20 predecessor. It sends at least 167 horsepower to all four wheels through a five-speed manual, and even allows four-wheel steering thanks to an early version of Nissan’s ATTESA system.
Right-hand drive complicates Starbucks orders, but more importantly, traffic stops. You’re sure to get plenty in a car with a hood scoop and rally lights. A roll cage in a daily driver is a worrisome prospect, but this one doesn’t look nearly intrusive enough to make an omelet out of your noggin. Your back seat passengers are similarly contained (or even restrained) by seat bolsters that nearly come up to your chest.
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