Small open air fun: 1989 Nissan Pulsar

Farm Forum

It was in the late 1980s when Mark Costello became enamored with Nissan’s Pulsar NX models. Two of his friends had such vehicles and Costello enjoyed cruising with his buddies in these cars with the T-top roof open and, he admits, “If we were really daring, taking off the rear hatch.”

Those Nissan Pulsars were so much fun that Costello says, “Who cares that they had only 90 horsepower — they were sharp.”

About 15 years later, Costello thought he had outgrown his infatuation with the Pulsar cars. But in May 2006 he bought a house in Langhorne, Pa., and noticed a silver 1989 Nissan Pulsar NX parked down the street. The car had the base XE trim with the 1.6-liter engine. Costello soon learned the neighbor had purchased the car new when she lived in San Diego.

The sighting rekindled his interest in the Pulsar NX, so he informed the neighbor that when she was ready to sell the Pulsar NX that he would be very interested. In October 2012 she sold it to Costello. The odometer had recorded 105,000 miles at the time.

He quickly set about restoring the Nissan to original condition. Costello reports that some welding under the frame in front of the rear wheel wells was necessary. Most of the restoration work was minor in comparison. He was very surprised to learn the innards of the engine were in perfect condition.

A repaint in the original silver frost metallic was highlighted with pin striping while on the interior a new radio/cassette, new hydraulic lifters, some bulb replacement and heater fan were installed. Additionally, Costello says, tie-rods, struts and a whole lot of WD-40 helped return much of the 1989 Nissan to like-new condition.

“While I had the dash and instrument panel apart,” Costello says, “I found a peppermint candy, 65 cents and an earring.” The old California license plate was found under the spare tire. The original plastic dealer-name frame from San Diego is on the car around the current Pennsylvania license plate.

“WD-40 has been my best friend,” Costello says. He proceeded with extreme caution when he began to remove the rubber gaskets for the first time in the car’s history.

“I gently lifted each piece slowly while following the rubber seal with a cotton swab dipped in oil to avoid ripping it.”

The seats are covered in black fabric. While seated in the driver’s seat in front of the three-spoke steering wheel Costello muses about the 125-mph speedometer. The Pulsar is equipped with a three-speed automatic transmission.

At the nose of the 2,388-pound Pulsar are a pair of square pop-up headlights. Driving the car around town, Costello observes, the car is cute and fun, but it is not a highway car.

A capacity of 13.2 gallons of gasoline provides mileage figures pf 29 mpg highway/24 mpg city. The car is a joy to drive because it is equipped with power steering and power brakes. In case the T-tops are not open the air conditioner is functional.

The car stretches an inch and a half shy of 14 feet long between the bumpers and rides on a 95.7-inch wheelbase. At 66.1 inches wide the Pulsar is much wider than it is high at 51 inches.

After more than a year spent putting the Pulsar back in good condition the odometer has accumulated only an additional 1,000 miles.

Discussing some of the history of the car with the original owner Costello learned, “The interesting part of her tenure with the car is that in all the years she owned it, she never took advantage of opening the T-roof or removing the hatch for that open-air driving experience the Pulsar NX was designed for.”

As Costello rolls his Pulsar out in the driveway to wash and wax it he sometimes sees the original owner strolling up the street to observe the activity.

“I can always rely on her standard comment,” he says which is, “Thank you for loving my car.”

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