1991 Nissan Stanza
|Air Date||December 1, 2013|
The Nissan Stanza is the shoe-gazer of cars. Complainant enough, but driven to exhaustion by trying placate the lower-middle class. If the Stanza were a sport, it would be slow-pitch softball. If it were TV Channel, it would be Community Bulletin Board. If it were a food, it would be a communion wafer. If the Nissan Stanza was a conversation topic, it would be Weather.
OPENING NARRATION by MR. REGULAR We can take my Nissan Stanza. It's grey. Mostly. --- INTRO SONG by THE ROMAN Dick jokes and insight on cars. --- MONOLOGUE by MR. REGULAR When Iacocca marketed the K platform Caravan in the early 1980s the vehicle drove an oak stake through the Buick Roadmaster and by association the entire 1970s meritocracy of front-engined, rear-wheel-drive family cars. The Caravan was the new king of the cul-de-sac and ferried you and your all of your friends to Knoebels, including that one obnoxious kid who would make actual conversation with your mom every time he came over to play Rocky Super Action Boxing on ColecoVision. Yet, the Caravan was a premium item, and owning one of these was a hard sell for the hard-up. Nevertheless, the Caravan championed transverse engines and front-wheel-drive in a way the original Mini couldn't. Japanese manufacturers followed suit and welcomed the early 90s by taking portable belt sanders to any hard edge on their new exports. The Stanza, which later became the Nissan Altima, handles moderately well for a car that dropped the floor out of what we now know as base models. It's the perfect car for navigating the social politics of the late 80s and early 90s corporate America, sharing near-beers after hours with a branch manager who honestly thought Joe Isuzu commercials were the summit of American comedy. The engine - right. 140 horsepower with sequential fuel injection. In the early 90s, you had to make that clear. Sequential fuel injection, okay, that was a new thing, because before sequential fuel injection, all you had was two electronically controlled misty sprayers at the throttle body, just *PTHBTHTHBHB*, fuel just in in in in, ueugh! 140 horsepower in 1991. That's 8 more horsepower than the second-generation Neon released 9 years later! Oh, and you can bring all of this up with that moderately attractive dental hygienist from Upper Darby, but it won't disguise the cheap evening ahead. 1991 - Nirvana's 'Nevermind' album came out the same year as this Stanza, and the "I don't wanna!" and "Leave me alone!" non-committal nature of grunge rock is visible through the grey-on-grey-on-dark-grey interior, putting to rest any notion that hard work bears fruit. You can taste all 140 horses of this engine through a lip-service 'sport' mode for the auto tranny. The engine, which is the KA24E, will make MAYBE 30 miles per gallon on the interstate from a curious three-valve layout. Three valves per cylinder, all crowding up on one overhead cam. To get respectable mileage out of the Nissan Stanza, it helps to keep an eye on your throttle position, and for that, THIS particular Stanza has an aftermarket vacuum gauge which is measured in Bar(?!) and falls down behind the centre console. This particular Stanza also has: Mysterious stains! A battery box made out of a sign! Torsion-bar suspension! Rear seat armrest! And it still reminds you to use unleaded fuel! Cold, hot! If you are in Australia, you know this as the hmm-dm-hmm! The KA24E engine also uses a timing chain, not a belt. It was also the same naturally aspirated powerplant used in the first two years of the North American 240SX, or S13, depending on how deep you are, before it got the proper dual overhead cam engine in 1991. Not only that, but the single overhead cam KA24E was also farmed out to move the Nissan Hardbody mini truck from 1990 until 1997, the 1990 to 1995 Pathfinder - so that explains the mediocre efficiency of the engine. See, it's a powerplant that needs to haul stolen copper fittings away from a municipal construction site at three in the morning AND hoon around Lebden at 9am on a Sunday morning. But, back to the Stanza. This car is basically that one girl who was always telling you about that crazy dream she had. You might enjoy spending time with her, and she might even be a nice plus-one for the inevitable wedding of people you haven't seen since the phantom Gore administration, but there's no evolution for that relationship, no upward mobility, and no calm reassurance that ""No, this ISN'T as good as it gets, it WILL get better, she WILL let you do the below-the-waist stuff if only you tell her she's pretty every once in a while."" This Nissan Stanza is a free-throw directly into the air above you. When the ball inevitably comes crashing down, all you'll have to show for the effort is a $3000 emergency room bill and an Owen Wilson nose. --- CLOSING VIDEO CLIP Mr. Regular while lifting nachos with a fork: "UUUUUUUNNGGHHHHHUUUNNGHHHHHHHHH""