Unexceptional Classics

Unexceptional Classifieds: Nissan 100NX

by Antony Ingram
11 March 2022 3 min read
Unexceptional Classifieds: Nissan 100NX
Photos: Manor Park Classics

Price: £3000
Mileage: 60,000
Condition: Imperfect but honest
Advert: Car & Classic

Ford’s Puma dominated small-coupé discourse in the latter part of the 1990s, but it was Japanese companies that took the category to heart earlier in the decade.

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Things kicked off with the Honda CRX, which had debuted in 1987 and lasted until 1991. At that point, Honda replaced it with the third-generation CRX, dubbed Del Sol elsewhere, which was less of a coupé but fulfilled the same brief.

Elsewhere in 1991, Mazda whipped the tiny covers off its V6-engined MX-3, and in 1995 Toyota brought its second-generation Paseo to UK shores, having sold a first generation car elsewhere from 1992.

Yet Nissan had got the jump on all of them with the 100NX. It nominally replaced the unloved Sunny Coupé in Nissan’s UK range in 1990, but its true heritage lay in the rather more interesting Nissan Pulsar NX lineage.

The first generation of this wedgy machine had debuted in 1982 and was replaced in 1986 with an updated model, each featuring an unusual canopy-style roof arrangement and pop-up headlights. The second-gen in particular was notable for a party trick rarely seen outside of concept vehicles: the entire hatchback could be replaced by a “Sportbak” tailgate, giving the compact coupé a practical shooting brake roof.

The 100NX wasn’t quite so interesting, but still had a few neat details of its own. Sold as part of the Sunny range in the UK, it carried over the T-top roof arrangement from the Pulsar NX, and while it dropped the pop-ups, its grille-less face and sunken headlights were quite unlike anything else on the market.

Inside things were rather more conventional. Well, boring. The dashboard was pure Sunny, though a pair of curvily-bolstered seats and those lift-out roof panels at least tried to liven things up. Rear seat space was limited, but given the CRX was about to ditch its rear seats entirely, the Nissan 100NX still had the edge on practicality.

What it didn’t have was the Honda’s screaming VTEC engine, a rather more modest 101bhp 1.6-litre doing the job instead, good for 0-62mph in 11.2 seconds with the manual gearbox.

And it’s that combination you see here, offered by Manor Park Classics for a not-unreasonable £3000. You’ll find NXs for less, but few remain these days and those left are often a little rough around the edges.

Even this one hasn’t escaped the ravages of time, with one wheel arch looking a bit scraped and the silver paint fading off the centre caps of the 14-inch alloy wheels. The cabin and engine bay both look tidy, though the CV joint boots and front tyres will both need attention before the next MOT. The three previous owners have apparently preserved much of the paperwork though, with MOT certificates going back to its first in 1998, while the bags for the roof panels are still present and correct.

Similar money would still get you a Puma, and there’s no doubting the Ford has the better engine and chassis. But you can’t remove the Puma’s roof, you’ll spend a lot more time chasing rust, and to us it isn’t quite appropriate for the Festival of the Unexceptional – the Puma’s just a little too stylish, and frankly a bit too good.

The Nissan 100NX though, as an oft-forgotten example of the 1990s small-coupé breed, would fit right in. Let’s just hope the weather plays ball.

Read more

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Bland of the rising sun: 13 unexceptional cars that put Japan on the map
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  • Damian nunn says:

    Hi there, really insightful reading, I’ve got a nx 100 myself after stumbling across it 4 years ago, I’m afraid due to personal injury it’s fallen by the wayside and needs some tlc, any advice on anybody who would take her and love her?? She’s way too good to.go to the scrapheap in the sky, please help.

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