The term Q-ship originated in WWI when merchant vessels carried hidden armament to attack and sink enemy subs. Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe Sentra also looks sedate, but hides a turbo 2.5-liter. Would you sink thirteen large for it?
Appearances are not always what they might seem, and looking at yesterday's Mercedes Benz 190E 2.3-16 Cosworth, the layman might not divine its special nature, so subtle are the identifiers. Fortunately this is Jalopnik, not Consumer's Union, and, as predicted by VeeArrrSix, a full 84% of you identified that boiling Benz as unique and anointed it a Nice Price winner- as much for its $5,500 asking price as for its condition. That teutonic sport sedan represented pretty much the best that Mercedes could throw at the market back in the eighties, but time and technology have moved on significantly since then.
Being the most steroidal evocation of that smallest Benz, the Cossie, when new, would set you back an arm and a leg, and possibly a left nut. Today's Nissan Sentra SE-R Spec-V is also a pinnacle of performance for the model, and while this one's more than double the price of yesterday's Merc, it's nearly 20 years its junior and the beneficiary of a less precipitous depreciation curve.
The Sentra has been Nissan's Corolla competitor since 1982 when the company decided that a made-up name would serve their small car better than the alpha-numeric, B-210. The car lacked much in the way of sporting pretensions until the SE edition of the 1991 through '94 B13 models - although the '86-'88 Sentra Sport Coupe brought both a little bit of excitement and the fug to the party.
The less said about the B14 version of the Sentra the better, but the follow-up B15 brought back the rabid with an SE-R version, and even hotter SE-R Spec-V edition. That car, as exemplified here, trades the Sentra's SR20DE 2.0-litre, for the Altima's 2,489-cc QR25DE, which bumps output from a not gonna' get you in trouble 145-bhp to a sorry officer, it won't happen again 175. Mated to the Altima's ex is a six speed close-ratio box funneling the ponies through a Torsen LSD. That's in a 2,710-lb four door sedan.
Now, this orangutan-hued Spec-V ups the ante just a bit more as the 2.5-litre motor is also - wait for it - turbo'd! That's right, that big-ass snail ahead of the cam cover isn't actually a delicious treat for ducks or the French, but an alchemist of energy that turns spent exhaust gasses into horsepower gold. BTW, if anybody can figure out how to turn my spent exhaust gasses into beer and pizza, we'll have to talk. An option on these cars was Brembo brakes, but this one sadly lacks the extra stopping power those bad boys can afford.
The seller is a dealer, and as such, doesn't have clue-one about horsepower or torque ratings, but does manage to provide at least six rear three-quarter shots prominently displaying what in Latin is commonly referred to as Cannius, Farticulous. That stovepipe of an exhaust, and the shopping trolling push wing enliven what is overall a pretty banal ass.
The rest of the Sentra is not what you'd call good-looking, but who gives a rat's asphalt when you're planted behind the wheel and putting all those turbo-fed ponies to the pavement. Whilst doing that you might notice the Sentra's interior is a little crappier than that of a similar age Civic, but about on par with that of the Corolla. This one has had a little remodeling, with an A-pillar trifecta of gauges and a stereo with one of those flip out screens that makes the center vents kind of useless. Other than that, it's mostly Ubiquitous- Japanese-Car interior, and even the seats are flatter than Kate Hudson so you'll have to count on butt-pucker rather than bolstering to hold you in place on the corners.
Wrapped around the Prozac-inspired interior is a whole lot of atomic orange paint that isn't quite retina-searing, but still would stand out in a line up (that's him officer, the orange one is the one that Spec-V'd me!), and comes with a modest 78K rocking the clock. Nissans are pretty reliable beasts, but it's hard to say how the forced induction parts would affect longevity, and of course the dealer would rather show you its commodious trunk than bring that up.
While that trunk is pretty big, you won't need a trunkful of cash to make this Sentra yours. Despite its being turbo'd; even though it's offered by a money-grubbing dealer; no matter that it comes with that lame-ass stereo head unit, it's only going for $12,990.
As you'll note that I've mentioned the price in the paragraph above you've no doubt realized that it's time to get off the shitter and make a decision as to whether that price is a good one or not. Sentra SE-R Spec-Vs are somewhat rare, however, outside of certain knowing circles, their added nomenclature is without meaning. That, and the turbo, makes this car the perfect Q-Ship despite its orgasmic orange paint. But is its price as perfect as the stealth? Would you pay $12,990 to pick this orange Sentra off the dealer's tree? Or, does that price make this one Q-ship you'd leave in dry-dock?
Help me out with NPOCP. Click here to send a me a tip, and remember to include your commenter handle.