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Nissan Almera

Nissan Almera Published: 31st Jul 2015 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Nissan Almera
Nissan Almera
Nissan Almera
Nissan Almera
Nissan Almera
Nissan Almera
Nissan Almera
Nissan Almera
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Hot hatchbacks of the 1980s and 90s could be the next classic craze so we got in early to quickly bag a real bargain. And you could do the same...

If the scrappage scheme is going to be reintroduced, then Classic Motoring must be the first to rescue a classic before the cull has even begun – and a quite brilliant one at that. Our latest project car is not only far too good to be sent to the crusher but is one of the rarest 1990’s GTis on the road!

As we revealed last month, we stepped in to save a low mileage, one owner Nissan Almera GTi from the final journey simply by keeping an ear to the ground. As anybody who wheels and deals with used motors will know, great cars and unmissable deals crop up in all shapes and forms in a fashion that never ceases to amaze us.

In the case of this Nissan, it was a chance conversation with a work colleague who simply asked how do you go about scrapping a car. We advised him but – intrigued – remarked “Surely not your Nissan” because we knew he’d owned it for many years (much longer than we thought, in fact) and maintained it by the book.
Amazingly it was… and all because the car was going to be part-exchanged (for a newish Mazda) and the dealer was going to simply scrap it because, to the sales manager, R497 DVX was nothing more than a 20 year old car so accordingly allowed its owner just £150 as a trade-in!

This was something Classic Motoring simply couldn’t allow to happen so a deal was swiftly struck at £300 – unseen.

ASPEL’S ALMERA?

One of the most fascinating as well as satisfying things about buying an old car is wading through its history file – and the one which came with this Almera was a thick binder; we half expected Michael Aspel to jump out and say “This is your life!”.

It transpired that the car had only two owners from new, firstly as a dealer demonstrator before our man bought it in 1999 for £11,495, under the Nissan Approved scheme. Among one of its numerous benefits included free MoTs for life right up to December 2014! This has to be A Very Good Thing, because, as you well can imagine, the car is likely to be tested by the book with no favours given. A flick through the sheath of past MoTs proves this because twice in its life, R497 DVX was given the dreaded pink slip for nothing more serious than defective wiper blades! Servicing has been done pretty religiously – in fact, it had been into a Halfords workshop just weeks before we bought the car at a cost of £270 while a Nissan rear exhaust section relieved the owner of £175.

IS IT TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE?

Our Nissan is not perfect by any means but we defy anybody to find a more honest or original Almera – at any price. Apart from its cast iron history it’s nay on standard spec too apart from a sports air filter (more anon) and aftermarket alloys although the original unmarked originals came as part of the deal.

The red paintwork has inevitably faded to a patchy pink but should respond well to a professional ‘mop’. There’s a small sliver of rust on the bottom of the driver’s door and a few front bumper corner scuffs that need attending to, but the most significant damage is a busted back bumper, which has been gaffer-taped over. Inside, apart from a few luggage bay scars and naff add-ons it’s as almost good as new – or will be once valeted.

Thankfully it’s the start of the warm season because both the heater and air con don’t work and this was one of the reasons for the previous owner buying a new car as he didn’t fancy another winter driving it like a Caterham!

On the move, our Almera runs as you’d expect a well maintained 120,000 miler to, although despite that recent service it doesn’t go like a GTi, holding back anything above 5000rpm when all hell should break loose on a modern 16v engine. It could be a duff fuel injector but we suspect the fault may well be linked to that sports filter that’s not a standard fit. It’s filthy – we’ve seen cleaner hoover ones – and we’d wager it hasn’t been properly cleaned for years.

We have a theory about this neglect; being a non standard part, mainstream workshops don’t know what to do to service it (in the case of these filters you need a special cleaner K&N sells for £10) and so leave well alone…

Anything else? Well, the starter makes a nasty grating noise when starting for the first time and the rev counter, which initially had a darty-performing needle, now simply flicks right round past the 8000rpm mark on start up, prompting surprised passengers to ask “Did you really?”.

Nothing major then and we’re looking forward to righting and writing the wrongs to make this possibly one of the best Alme GTis in the UK – hopefully for less than £1000 and that’s including the purchase price! Who says classics (and what we consider to be a ‘proper’ classic, not simply something that’s old-ed) have to be expensive… We don’t! The trick is all about keeping an ear to the ground and taking a chance on a bit of an oddball.



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