The Bid is Right

What's the final price-tag on this wrapper-fresh 1992 Nissan Sentra SE-R?

by Grady Eger
31 March 2022 3 min read
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If you’ve been following the auction scene of late, then you’re aware things are kind of nuts right now. Thanks to the continued growth of online selling platforms, classic cars are being bid on at an unprecedented pace. Insider has lots of thoughts about this phenomenon—you can find some here and herebut perhaps the most important one is that it’s fun. Who doesn’t like seeing amazing classics trotted out day in and day out, and who doesn’t like guessing just how much they’ll go for?

In the spirit of fun, we’re introducing a new contest. We’re calling it, The Bid is Right. The premise is simple and should be familiar to anyone who has watched daytime TV in the last few decades: The person who guesses closest to the final bid—without going over—wins.

Oh, and did we mention we’re giving out $500 to the winner? Yes, we take fun pretty seriously.

With no further adieu, we present this week’s contest. Submit your guess in the comments section below no later than April 2nd, at 2:05 pm EST (24 hours before the auction officially closes—that’s right, no sniping!).

Boy, do we have it good these days. Even as we stare down the plug of the forthcoming EV-pocalypse that’s ostensibly just over the horizon, enthusiasts are spoiled for choice when it comes to the four-wheeled fun stuff. We’re down a few hot hatches in 2022, but VW’s GTI and Subaru’s WRX are still buzzin’ through dealership lots, as are affordable sports cars like the new Toyobaru twins and the Mazda Miata.

Still, our rose-tinted rear-view mirror shows it used to be better for a gearhead with more passion in their heart than bucks in their wallet. Performance-ish trims of economy cars were far more common than they are now, carrying punchier engines, stiffer shocks, and bigger brakes than the standard car while also keeping payments—and repairs—lower than a contemporary sports car.

Honda and Volkswagen set the standard for cracking low-buck, big-smiles back in the 1980s, but Nissan had its own form of budget boot-scootin’ with the first-gen Sentra SE-R. Based on the third-generation Sentra, this little sport compact made big waves upon its debut in 1991—particularly for its then-new 2.0-liter SR20DE four-cylinder. Immediately, the SE-R set about breaking all the standard conventions surrounding the dreary subcompact commuter; 140 hp and 132 lb-ft were strong numbers in an era where an (un)healthy portion of the segment struggled to break three-figures in the power department.

A 7,500-rpm redline made accessing said power a whole heap of fun, as did a standard limited-slip front differential and a set of snappy gear ratios. When you were more focused on corner entry than bouncing off redline, the little Sentra continued to punch-up with 4-wheel disc brakes and a MacPherson strut independent suspension. Inside was quite spartan—what 1990s econobox isn’t—but a shmear of nice touches included more aggressive cloth sport seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

Fun, fun, fun—all for a smidge over $10,000 when new. As such, most first-gen SE-Rs are on their tenth-or-so hooligan, and are festering examples of egregiously deferred maintenance and the canvas of the backpage order form of the JC Whitney catalog. There are well-used cars, there are s**tboxes, and then there are well-loved SE-Rs.

All of which makes Bring a Trailer’s minty fresh, 445-mile 1992 Nissan Sentra SE-R so alluring. There are no missed shifts, no burnt valves, leaky gaskets, worn suspension, or dubious stains-‘n-smells to be alarmed at. As we outlined in our prior in-depth spotlight on this very Sentra, the car was purchased new and quickly pickled following the 444-mile break-in drive, with the 445th mile added during its removal from storage. Aside from a replacement battery, everything—everything—is factory original, including fluids, stickers, grease-pen markings, and tires.

So, just how much will this ‘90s capsule claim when the virtual hammer falls? Based on prior low-mile outliers, your guess is as good as ours. At the time of this writing, the high-bid sits at $30,666—more than double the original MSRP—and should continue to climb, Or, maybe not. You know the drill, folks! Closest to the pin wins a cool $500. Scramble down to the comments below and sound-off where you think the final bid will land.

More ground rules:

  • The commenter who guesses closest to the hammer price—without going over—wins. (Hammer price excludes auction house fees).
  • One guess per commenter.
  • If two people guess the same amount (within a dollar) the earlier guess wins.
  • Commenters must provide first and last name in addition to email address.
  • We will close the guessing on Saturday, April 2nd at 2:05 pm.
  • Your privacy is important to us, and we’ll never sell your information. By providing your email you will receive the weekly Insider newsletter, and you can opt out at any time.
  • You can read the full rules here.
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