Junkyard Gem: 1989 Nissan Pathfinder


Just before the sport utility vehicle made the cultural transition from “jouncy, utilitarian truck” to “tall commuter hatchback with seldom-needed AWD and vaguely outdoorsy image”, it was considered desirable— or at least acceptable— for such vehicles to have two doors. Nissan turned its Hardbody pickup into an SUV, and the Pathfinder was born. Here’s one in a Colorado self-service yard.

Do you like high-mileage vehicles? How does nearly a half-million sound? The busted-off speedometer needle and somewhat jumbled odometer numerals may suggest that we’re not looking at the actual mileage, but a 445,422-mile Pathfinder is plausible.

This truck has a Memphis dealership sticker and many jam-band decals. Perhaps it went on tour with the Grateful Dead from the time it was new until Jerry Garcia’s cigarette-and-chili-dog-induced death in 1995, at which point the owner switched to Widespread Panic.

Widespread Panic played at nearby Red Rocks Amphitheater just before this Pathfinder showed up in a Denver junkyard’s inventory, so perhaps the truck crapped out and was sent to the knacker’s yard, to be replaced by a youthful 200,000-mile 4Runner.

Later on, when the SUV replaced the sedan as the most mainstream of American transportation appliance, four doors were considered an absolute necessity; starting in 1990, the Pathfinder got four doors. Back in 1989, though, plenty of truck shoppers were buying Blazers and Bronco IIs and Monteros with two doors.

This one has a genuine 1990s-style Bell South analog car phone, complete with gooseneck phone mount bolted to the transmission tunnel.

Back then, a car-phone antenna conferred so much status upon its owner than people installed fake ones from J.C. Whitney.

It’s a truck… and a car.

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