I hated my first car: 1992 Nissan Pulsar SSS

I hated my first car: 1992 Nissan Pulsar SSS

I bought the car I didn’t want for my first car and it sucked.

Context is key, so give me a five. A 16-year-old me – after settling into a new public school in West Sydney – became friends with someone from the senior class. We had similar tastes in music, friendship led to access to cool parties, the usual. Standard teenage crap, really.

I had recently moved to Australia from the UK and had no idea what the average 17 year old drove. I have an older brother and at home ‘the boys’ loved a good Citroen Saxo VTS, a Vauxhall Nova or even the odd Peugeot 106 Rallye.

Literally none of these cars existed in Australia. Another great benefit of being around 11/12 kids was that some were licensed drivers. My friendship with them proved enlightening as to what kind of metal I might be able to buy for myself.

One of these gentlemen named Stuart owned a 1989 Toyota Corolla SX, registration AID-66E. It looked fantastic, with an aggressive chin spoiler fitted as standard, red pinstripes, equally radical ‘SX Twincam 16’ door decals and machined alloy wheels reminiscent of shuriken (Japanese throwing stars).

Its subtly sporty looks were backed by an absolute heart of gold: the mighty Toyota 4A-GE engine. Fun fact, all AE93 Series Toyota Corolla SX/GTis delivered in Australia received the most powerful and latest version of Toyota’s legendary 1.6 liter Twin Cam 4A-GE engine.

Nicknamed the ‘Smallport’ due to its small intake ports on the cylinder head, it was the most powerful iteration of the 4A-GE engine Toyota Australia has ever offered here. When new, it delivered a mighty 100 kW at the flywheel. Oil splashes in the block. A decent engine oil cooler too. A really nice kit.

I have fond memories of riding the shotgun in that car. Everyone else in this clique owned mediocrity: a TG Gemini, an N15 Pulsar Plus (no legendary Nissan SR engine in sight), a Holden VS Commodore, and a Mitsubishi Mirage that belonged to my best friend, whom I would marry later in life.

In short, every other car in the pack was either slow, boring, or unappealing. The mighty Corolla felt like an absolute star among this set. It turned, sounded good, steered well and never let us down. I also remember being surprised by the seven-piece gauge assembly that spanned more than half the dash, complete with an oil pressure gauge and voltmeter.

But it wasn’t just about sportiness, the other basics were also well thought out. I spent many relaxing hours in the seats of this Corolla and it felt good. Compared to the other sh*tters mentioned above, it was by far the most comfortable of them all.

With my little touch of metal, I thought it was the ultimate first car. I figured to save my pennies and buy my own copy when the time came. I discussed this detail with my close group of five friends – all in my age group.

You know how to do that. One of those five got his driver’s license before me and made the same choice. I’m still not sure what prompted him to do this as he wasn’t interested in cars and probably isn’t now.

Anger aside, it was done and I had lost the race to the sky in the first car. I couldn’t do the same. So what does an angry and hormone-ridden teenager do out of defiance? Of course, buy the next best thing in the budget, which turned out to be the 1992 Nissan Pulsar SSS.

I had $3,000 in the bank because I worked at Hoyts Cinemas, and my grandmother – who was visiting from the UK at the time – threw me $2,000 (an absolute legend). With $5000 I went hunting. That story in itself is funny enough, so in short I took my father and mechanic of 35 to inspect an absolute piece of shit.

It was one of the cheapest Pulsar SSSs on offer at the time, with average prices in 2007 hovering around $7000. It was an ‘ES’ version of the first series, had previously stood on a shunter, had the worst interior on record and four different brand tires on each corner.

“Justin it sucks, do whatever you want, I won’t fix it either.” His party trick was the ability to keep walking and driving without a key, albeit without steering due to the steering lock mechanism.

It was leaking oil, and I vividly remember looking into my father’s eyes as he sat there tapping the starter on the floor, and heaps of shredded clutch dust fell out. It was pretty much endless.

The starter was off due to the clutch slipping within months of ownership. It wasn’t a good introduction to driving. I hated that car and that’s what you get for not doing what you want and being a pushover.

After about nine months I honestly sold it for $2500 (lost half my money!) and vowed to buy what I want and listen to my dad. I broke away from that circle of friends, found my own way in the world and bought a 1989 Toyota Corolla SX. White, Enkei RP-01 wheels, sold by an angry mother in Lane Cove whose son never paid for meals.

I’ve owned eight of these since then, including a Toyota Australia test car, the only 1989 Toyota Corolla SX ever painted Seal Gray Metallic (Gunmetal), and a heavily modified import 2-door version (Like Bathurst!) complete with Individual throttle bodies and others treats.

I guess you could say the 1989 Toyota Corolla SX was mine Is correct first car in spirit and everything i ever wanted.

The post I Hated My First Car: In 1992, the Nissan Pulsar SSS first appeared on Drive.

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