The best Nissan Laurel in NZ!

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The best Nissan Laurel in NZ!

Postby Clarke_ » Tue Jan 02, 2018 11:02 am

Hi all,

Back in April, my father-in-law the retired Judge died - he was 81. And for the last 30 years, he owned what he regarded as the best car in the world; a 1986 Nissan Laurel SGX3.0 4-door pillarless sedan. And it's fallen to me to find a new home for his beloved car.

To get the obvious details out of the way first, this is a Japanese-assembled fifth generation C32 Laurel 3.0 SGX V6 with a mere 145,000 kms on the clock from new, in the best possible mixture of burgundy and champagne paintwork. The car is in really quite remarkable condition, including the beautiful interior with the sort of crushed velour upholstery that simply isn’t made any more. There are no dash cracks, the electrics (including the drivers seat) are all in fine working order, and the cassette player is utterly original and has been extensively tested over the years with a possibly unique selection of Johnny Cash albums.

The car is NZ new and has really only had two owners in its entire life. The second owner is really the important one, because like all great cars that have been loved and cared for over many decades, this is actually a story about a man rather than a piece of machinery.

His Honour Judge Bruce Palmer purchased the Laurel in 1986 and paid a truly astonishing sum for it at the time, as it pre-dated the flood of used imports and quality did not come cheap back then. It was the best car he could find, as it needed to replace the Ford Zephyr Zodiac (black with red leather upholstery!) that preceded it as the Palmer family car, and he required a vehicle that would serve as suitable transport for a successful member of the judiciary in Christchurch.

Bruce was always a very considered purchaser of cars. He did not lightly flit from vehicle to vehicle, or have dalliances with superficially-appealing but ultimately inferior machinery. Thirty years after be bought the Laurel, he was able to hold forth at family gatherings about how the Laurel was clearly superior to the parade of Toyotas and BMWs and Audis and Jaguars that came and went like the seasons. The fact that other family members had made unwise buying decisions was reinforced by the speed at which they replaced their cars, while the Laurel sailed on, indomitable.

With such a pedigree, there was no casual borrowing of the Laurel. Family members had other cars to learn to drive in, other cars to act as taxis for children and pets, other cars to conduct casual trips across town. The Laurel had a pride of place in the garage and in Bruce’s esteem.

Like the Judge, the Laurel is a very considered vehicle. It’s capable of a decent turn of speed, but is happiest when gathering momentum in the flow of traffic, the auto transmission slurring its way into a long loping glide, the sense of wellbeing radiating from the iconic Nissan bonnet emblem, past the clean-cut square lines and the frameless windows. It’s hard not to fall into a relaxed rhythm whilst driving it, and simply let the world slip past. It’s perhaps the way Nissan’s designers always intended their flagship to be driven.

Late into Bruce’s 70s, the Laurel was lightly rear-ended by a careless driver. Much to the relief of the family, the accident was not his fault. We thought the crash might be enough to put the Laurel and perhaps Bruce off the road for good, but the repair job was superb and he and the car sailed on for a few more years. But eventually his health diminished, his driving stopped, and he passed away in 2017. Naturally, his Laurel had pride of place in the funeral cortege.

So the time has come to find a new home for Bruce’s Laurel - but it can’t just be sold to any random person who wants a cheap drift project or family beater. As a highly-respected Judge, Bruce spent much of his career assessing the character of the people who appeared before him (and their clients!), and it would matter to him that the new owner would treat the Laurel with respect.

From a practical standpoint, the Laurel is an ideal collectors piece - it’s an iconic monument to the best Nissan engineering of the mid-80s, perfectly preserved in amber (or, in this case, champagne/burgundy with burgundy velour). The paintwork could do with a freshen up in places, there is some interior wear that might need to be tidied to bring it up to concours condition, but it really is in remarkable original condition. Naturally, it is freshly and thoroughly serviced, including a recent cambelt and oil service. It has a full service history, and even the original sales brochure, noting the price of "from $35,000" ... in 1986!

The family is looking for about $4,000 … but actually we’re looking for a new home for a piece of family history - someone who will ease the Laurel back into the ebb and flow of traffic, who will roll down those cool frameless windows, put their elbow on the sill, and grin with the delight of driving what Bruce knew to be the best car in the world.

Right now, the Laurel is living in the Wairarapa. If you’d like more information and photos, then feel free to contact Kent on 021 536 873. It's also listed on TradeMe, but to be honest the family would prefer to sell it to someone who will appreciate it, so for the members of this forum the price should be regarded as highly negotiable.

I will post photos shortly.

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Re: The best Nissan Laurel in NZ!

Postby broke » Wed Jan 03, 2018 9:44 am

Lucky for you someone crashed my old one, until then it was only the second best one in NZ :D

I still miss it.. this one is a carburetted model, correct? Also does it have IRS, cruise control, rain-sensing wipers or automatic headlights?

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Re: The best Nissan Laurel in NZ!

Postby 2 doors » Fri Jan 05, 2018 9:14 am

Awesome story, I truly appreciate that your taking the time to vet potential buyers , there are some true enthusiasts on the forum who would qualify .

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Re: The best Nissan Laurel in NZ!

Postby Datto_610 » Sat Jan 06, 2018 12:21 pm

Very cool story! Look forward to seeing some pictures of this awesome sounding Laurel!

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Re: The best Nissan Laurel in NZ!

Postby kartboy » Sat Jan 06, 2018 10:53 pm

Luckily this is in the north island otherwise I may have a divorce on my hands. Would be ideal for my family Datsun as can't fit 5 in the coupe or Ute.

Very nice example.

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