Back in the early 1990s, if you needed a fast front-wheel-drive car to get to an MC Hammer concert, you would be best advised to avoid the popular choices like your buddy's Honda CRX, Integra GSR, or VW GTI -- and instead head to your parents garage and borrow the family Maxima. But it couldn't be just any Maxima, it had to be the 1992-1994 Maxima SE that used the 3rd generation chassis and the powerful VE30DE V6 mated to a 5-speed manual. Find this 1992 Nissan Maxima SE offered for an undisclosed price, located in Lancaster, CA via craigslist.
The J30 generation was only offered with the iron block VE30DE for 3 years and the engine was only available in the Maxima...but it made quite the Taurus SHO fighter out of the SE. 60mph was dispatched in 6.6 seconds and 1320 ft took 15.1 seconds, performance that, in the age of grunge music, was usually reserved for sports cars. It was faster to 60 than a 1990 300ZX non-turbo and you could fit 4 adults in comfort. It even came with a limited slip differential as a standard feature if you selected the 5-speed manual transmission.
The VE30DE was a 24-valve DOHC V6 that featured an iron block topped with aluminum heads. The VE30DE also had variable valve timing, variable intake tuning (notably absent on the VQ30 engine that was used concurrently on the 300ZX and replaced the VE in the next generation), coil on plug ignition, and a timing chain. The iron block engine meant the following generation of Maxima actually shed a few lbs of mass when it was introduced, but for my money I'll take the chiseled good looks (and independent rear suspension) of the J30 over the Camry-esq A32 4th gen. It is just shame that finding a good J30 SE 5-speed is almost impossible.
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