1987 Nissan Prairie 1.5 gasoline from Sweden

Summary:

Space and economy

Faults:

Parking brake.

Got jammed when used uphill. I had to lift it and hammer it out of the jam. The wire had developed a hook, but it got straightened out with some grease and frequent usage.

General Comments:

Spacious and practical.

Goes at least 150 km on 10l of gas.

Very handicapped and rheumatic friendly.

Take out the back seat and you can practically move your home with it.

Expensive spare parts, and used parts are hard to come by. But then again, there is not much that can break on this simple and slim van-like station wagon.

The slide-doors are very useful, but can collect ice in freezing conditions, which makes them hard to open.

The door locks need frequent greasing during winter.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 8th November, 2009

1986 Nissan Prairie SGL 1.8 petrol from UK and Ireland

Summary:

A brilliant design well put together

Faults:

Starter motor failed at @140000 miles.

OS rear suspension arm collapsed and I regretfully scrapped the car as I couldn't find a replacement.

General Comments:

The most capable load carrying car I have ever owned.

It gave an impressive package of adequate performance and comfort and could swallow bulky loads that defeated many small vans thanks to its remarkable load height.

The handling was never more than mediocre but loading it up to maximum weight didn't affect it at all.

Access to the seats was unbeatable thanks to the sliding rear doors and pillar-less construction.

I was very sad to scrap it, to me it was a thing of beauty using the dictum "form follows function".

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 28th August, 2008

1987 Nissan Prairie SGL 1.8 petrol from UK and Ireland

Summary:

Definitely one of the most innovative, competent and useful vehicles ever made by Nissan

Faults:

The only significant fault to develop has been the loss of syncromesh on third gear which eventually led to third becoming unusable. Still, it's managed to soldier on for 4000 or more miles with a broken transmission so far!

Another annoyance is the fuel filler neck which due to it's exposed position under the rear wheel arch, has rusted through allowing water to enter the fuel tank in very wet conditions.

General Comments:

I approached the purchase of a Prairie with some trepidation, as I had assumed it to be a slow, cumbersome beast which would no doubt be not too much fun to drive. I'm glad to say I was wrong. Very wrong.

I decided to try one as I required something I could use like a van, with a decent capacity and preferably front wheel drive...the latter was desirable due to it having better traction in slippy or icy conditions.

My first drive was a real revelation. This thing was actually quite fast! Yes, the acceleration of an 1800 Prairie is very surprising. Not only this, buy it will carry on to a top speed of around 105mph and will happily cruise at 90mph, all the while returning excellent fuel economy. The single overhead camshaft, carburettored, 1809cc engine produces 90 horsepower and a very creditable 112 foot-pounds of torque. The secret of the performance lies with the low kerb weight of just 1050kg... remarkable for a vehicle this size.

The handling at first feels a little strange as the seating position is quite high, so any body roll is greatly emphasized. While there certainly is some roll, as would be expected with a tall vehicle, it is reasonably well controlled and the handling is fairly predictable. I run my Prairie with aftermarket alloy wheels with 195/65x14 tyres which I have to admit offer a huge improvement over the original 13 inch wheels. The only complaint could be aimed at the slight torque steer under acceleration and deceleration, possibly due to the drive shafts being very different lengths.

The Prairie features very large vented disc brakes up front and drums at the rear provide excellent stopping power and I have yet to press them to the point of fade, despite some very spirited driving! The pedal feel is firm yet the braking is nicely progressive.

The Prairie is remarkable comfortable for long journeys and it is even quite quiet, although it could benefit from better insulation of the cabin from the engine compartment. The dash, while not aesthetically pleasing is fairly well set out with easy to read... though it has to be said the instrumentation is somewhat minimalist. All the switch gear seems robust and are simple in operation, but the location of the radio is truly awful. It's operation requires the driver to bend forward and reach far down on the centre console... not a good design.

Whilst I am undoubtedly impressed with the Prairie even I must admit it's looks can only be described as awkward. It's tall, boxy and has slightly odd proportions. it's one of those vehicles that no amount of customising could really improve. However, all of that is more than made up for by it's practicality. The tailgate opens to reveal a very low load floor, ideal for loading up those heavy items and the lack of any centre pillar between the front doors and the rear sliding door make the access even better. This feature is unique to the first generation Prairie, I believe. All in all, while it may not be a thing of beauty, it is undoubtedly one of the most useful and dare I say, fun vehicles I have owned and I will certainly seek out another when this one reaches old age.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 11th October, 2002

2nd Sep 2003, 09:47

I too am a happy Prairie owner. Mine is the 1984 model 1500cc 5 speed manual. I purchased this vehicle in very poor condition and it had traveled 305,000 Km (approximately). My purchase price was $300, I spent another $195 repairing the head (corrosion in the water jacket - causing overheating) and now drive it every day.

Once a month I drive it 1000 km over a weekend, the rest of the time is city running. Highway travel is at 110 kph. Average fuel mileage is around 7 liters/100 km.

It has now done 335,000 km trouble free and I would happily buy another. I am gradually repairing the body work to bring this unique vehicle up to good condition and expect many years of reliable service - I plan to get it to 500,000 km.

Brent

Adelaide, South Australia.

20th Dec 2004, 08:23

I bought an early 1984 Prairie with the 1500 engine. Unfortunately I hadn't realized that 5th and reverse were almost un-selectable! Apparently this is a common fault on early models and severely restricted parking. The engine also boiled over at the slightest hint of fine weather.

I think I just bought a duff one - it was fun to drive when not overheating and trying to reverse!

5th Sep 2005, 21:06

Hi I've just bought my 2nd nissan prairie estate, and I would like to mod the car.

I am looking for any advice upon where I may purchase a body kit for my prairie.

I have searched and searched to no avail.

Any help would be most welcomed.

It's an f reg prairie estate sgl 1.8.

3rd Aug 2007, 11:43

Recently purchased `87 Prairie and it would be much nicer car with power steering. Anybody know if complete unit from another Nissan will fit right in there.