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  • History of the Nissan EXA and NX

    The Nissan N12 Pulsar EXA/NX Turbo (1981-85)

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    The Nissan EXA/NX Turbo N12 made it's debut to the world stage in 1981, in the era of hot front wheel drive turbo vehicles. Powered by a E15-ET Turbo engine, it shared all it's goodies with the N12 Pulsar ET, except for Pulsar's rear end disc brakes (which by the way can be fitted directly to the N12 EXA Turbo).

    They were renown for their ability to produce vast amounts of power from it's small powerplant, coupled with a light body they made for lethal weapons on the race track. It took very skilled drivers to master the torque steer from this little baby.

    Other not so well known variations of the N12 EXA/NX Turbos were the non-turbo E15E versions, and the factory convertible version.

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    The Nissan NX-21 Concept Car (1983)

    While Nissan sales departments were busily shipping out N12's they were looking to the future, and wanted a radical new design for the upcoming NX/EXA series.

    Chief designer Thomas Semple, the then president of Nissan Design America, took charge of this new and ambitious new project. Semple, was renown for the design of the Pulsar EXA/NX, the NX Coupe, and even the current 350Z.

    What started out as rough sketches and quickly evolved into a drivable vehicle for the 21st century.

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    The NX-21 was to sport a more aerodynamic design complete with the now trademark slotted exa rear lights, gullwing doors, a modern interior with all the fancy electronics the 80's had to offer (including no rear vision mirror but a projector screen instead, a voice warning system, a smarter engine management system called ECCS), coupled with a powerful new ceramic gas turbine engine driving the RR (Rear engine/Rear drive) layout. The fuel efficiency was better than most modern diesels at the time, and could take various forms of fuel (including kerosine, light oil and alcohol). The power output was rated at 100PS.

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    (Pictures courtesy of our friends at Concept Car Central, benjamin3000, Eddie Ratley)

    The Nissan EXA/Pulsar NX N13 Series I (1987-88)

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    The N13 model Nissan EXA first appeared in 1987. It sold for around $29,000 (Aust).

    Unlike the N12 model, the N13 model was based on the chassis of the B12 Sentra (US model). It was powered by the all new CA16DE power plant - a double overhead camshaft, 16 valve, EFI 1.6 litre (as it proudly proclaimed on the sticker on the side of the car). Unfortunately the CA16DE's that made their way to North America and Australia/New Zealand had a lower compression than their Japanese counterparts (resulting in less power and torque) and never got their rear disk brakes either.

    Compared to other Japanese car manufacturer's offerings it didn't fare so well, it was roughly this time the Honda CRX and Toyota MR2 entered the sports car market.

    NISSAN EXA/Pulsar NX N13 Series II (1988-90)

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    Nissan quickly released the EXA with the Series II in 1988. Sporting a slightly larger motor, the CA18DE (1.8L), power and torque were more inline with the rest of the field. The interior got an upgrade with new cloth trim, but sadly the rear-drum brakes remained.

    NISSAN EXA/Pulsar NX N13 Series III (1990-92)

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    The final N13 series was the Series III. It received the rear-disc brakes it was begging for, the interior once again got a revamp with new adjustable head-rest front seats. Many series III received power windows as standard also

    NISSAN EXA GRAND PRIX EDITION (1988-91)

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    The 1988-91 Grand Prix Edition. This limited edition run was only available in Australia between the years of 1988-91. There were roughly 500 made, each receiving it's own number plated on the dash.

    The GP Edition received a more aggressive two piece front spoiler, Vector SSS alloys, and GP decals on the side. Mechanically it was indentical to the N13 Series II.

    NISSAN EXA SOLAIRE (1989-92)

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    The Nissan EXA Solaire model did not differ alot from the Series III EXAs. The Solaires had different alloy wheels, and ugly pinstriping on the side of the car, with a Solaire logo. Many of these cars also came with factory power windows.

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    Photos courtesy of Trippa

    NISSAN EXA N13 LA Type SE, SportBak (1988-91)

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    The sportbak versions of the EXA are a rarity and an oddity at the same time. Usually grey in colour they replace the standard hatch of the N13.

    There is also a softbak version with the hatch taking a Mazda Miata/MX5 look.

    NISSAN EXA N13 Factory Turbo (?)

    The rumour has been going for years, we've been unable to find an owner of such a beast (yet). Word is that it is powered by either a CA18DET or CA16DET with an LSD gear box, and disc brakes all round from the factory. It is possible that it was made by Nissan for once-off race/rally use, but never saw the race track.

    There has been unconfirmed sightings of factory turbo N13 EXA in Australia and New Zealand. It is also possible that side stickers read 16 Valve DOHC Turbo.

    Will we ever see this unicorn? Time will tell.

    NISSAN NX COUPE (1991-95)

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    Nissan discontinued the EXA in late 1991. They used the same design team to come up with it's successor - the NX Coupe. The NX featured a rounder, more modern design, and had a much easier to maintain motor in the sr20de. In the US, a nx1600 model was also released, which had the ga16de motor. The sr20de raised the power output to 105kW compared to the series III EXA's 93kW. Nissan discontinued the NX coupe in 1995.

    Features of the NX Coupe included: Removable Glass Targa Roof, Chrome exhaust extension, Power door mirrors, Front 2 speed with intermittent wipers, One piece colour coded bumpers, Integrated high mount stop lamp, and a dual tone horn, Power Steering, Tilt adjustable steering wheel, Remote hood, fuel and hatch releases.

    NISSAN NXR (1991-95)

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    Nissan also released a special edition NX coupe called the NXR. This model came with everything that the NX got, with the following extras: Anti-skid Braking (ABS), Front air dam with integrated fog lights, Side skirts, Rear boot lid spoiler with integrated brake light, Pulsar SSS (n14) wheels, Cruise control, power windows, Central Locking, Leather 4-spoke steering wheel, Leather Gear knob, 4 speaker stereo with amplifier, and charcoal interior.