Apocalyptic 1992 Nissan Sentra Is Junkyard Treasure

When a person is a car’s final owner and knows it, the very concept of resale value loses all meaning. Repairs and modifications proceed based on what’s easiest, what fulfills some artistic vision, or both. Today’s Junkyard Treasure, a 1992 Nissan Sentra two-door sedan in a Denver yard, falls into the third category.

I always seek out such cars when exploring boneyards, whether they be Lord Humungus-style Subarus, Nissan Stanzas converted to radioactive-wasteland-scavenging pickups, half-million-mile Mercedes-Benz S-Classes with through-hood exhaust, or Acura RLs butchered for break ’em all low-budget road rallies. This Sentra two-door sedan was the very cheapest new Nissan American car shoppers could buy in the pre-Versa days of 1992, selling for just $8,495 (about $16,175 in 2021 dollars).

I recall buying a 1991 Sentra two-door with 60,000 miles and four-speed manual at the official San Francisco towed-cars auction, in the summer of 2000. This was a running 10-year-old car in decent condition and it cost me 50 bucks (admittedly, I later sold it for $450, but that was with a valid California smog certificate). Fast-forward 21 years and you can extrapolate that sort of value onto a 29-year-old Sentra with nearly 300,000 miles on the clock, as this one has.

So, why not fix broken door handles with rebar and a welder? This car boasts many such fixes, and the amazing thing (compared to most such field-expedient repairs I see in car graveyards) is that all of them work perfectly. Whoever did this knew how to perform these sorts of modifications with minimum effort/money and maximum use of fabrication skills.

The passenger-side door has a wire loop designed to pull the inside door-latch release; it looks crude but functions flawlessly. Likewise the lengths of rebar welded onto the window-crank handles.

My personal style of instrument-panel construction doesn’t involve spray-foam insulation from a can, but I can see the appeal of this method: prop the gauges in place, fill the space with foam, done! Actually, I think using big blobs of Shoe Goo is even quicker and stronger than spray foam when it comes to in-a-hurry gauge mounting, but that’s just, like, my opinion, man.

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