This Nissan Stagea 260RS Is a Fast, Cheap Hauler

Cars & Bids/HoshiMotion

Upon its 1996 introduction, you would have been forgiven for confusing the Nissan Stagea with any other practical, marginally sporty midsize family wagon on Japanese roads. It did, however, benefit from a mash-up of parts borrowed from both the staid Laurel sedan and the decidedly more exciting Skyline. And, as a competitor to the Subaru Legacy and Toyota Caldina wagons, the Stagea came with a variety of silky-smooth straight-sixes that ranged from a normally aspirated 2.0 liter to a 2.5-liter turbo, with both rear- and all-wheel-drive available. With room for the kids and a week’s worth of groceries, there was little to complain about. There was also little to make the Stagea stand apart from its rivals.

Enter Autech, Nissan’s performance subsidiary. It wasn’t long before the firm began tuning the wagon to within an inch of its life, and the result was the fire-breathing Stagea 260RS. This limited-production beast lost nothing in practicality but gained everything in eye-popping performance. You could still haul the kids and the groceries, but by the end of any spirited ride, there’d probably be vomit all over the back seats and the cargo area would look like the aftermath of a food fight.

Autech engaged in some focused massage to turn the Stagea into the 260RS. Into the engine bay went a RB26DETT, the twin-turbocharged 2.6-liter six borrowed from the R33-generation Skyline GT-R. It made 276 hp (nearly 150 more than a base Stagea and 45 more than one equipped with the 2.5-liter turbo) and 271 lb-ft of torque, with power sent through a five-speed manual transmission to the permanent ATTESA E-TS all-wheel-drive setup, which included a rear limited-slip differential, also cribbed from the GT-R. The hits kept coming, though, as Autech also incorporated the GT-R’s nimble Super-HICAS four-wheel steering system, in addition to upgrading the suspension and adding a front strut brace and rear stabilizer bar. They also fit Brembo brakes and 17-inch BBS forged alloy wheels, plus a body kit with a deep front valance, side skirts, and a rear spoiler. The result is a car broadly considered to be a Nissan Skyline GT-R wagon, one capable of making the 0–60 sprint in 5.7 seconds.

Production was limited to just 1734 examples, all right-hand drive, and all built from late 1997 to early 2001 in two periods (Stage 1.5 and Stage 2), which differ largely in cosmetic “facelift” terms. The car’s combination of practicality, mind-blowing performance, and rarity made the Stagea 260RS something of a cult classic, which helps explain its inclusion in nearly every iteration of Gran Turismo since part 2.

America began welcoming them to our shores as each successive model year turned 25. Our Sale of the Week, this 1998 Nissan Stagea 260RS Autech, crossed the Pacific last year, and on March 12, it sold on Cars & Bids for $37,500.

According to the GT-R registry, this car was the 1051st model built, the 65th of 748 Stage 2 cars. Finished in Pearl White over a black and gray interior, its metric odometer reads 173,500 km (about 107,800 miles). The seller claims to have purchased the car in Japan in 2022, then waited a year to import it before titling it in Georgia. Aftermarket upgrades made by the seller include a Kakimoto racing exhaust, a NISMO strut brace, and 18-inch RAYS wheels, plus a bunch of minor exterior and interior bits. Recent work includes replacement of the valve cover gaskets as well as the timing belt and all accessory belts.

The seller made it clear that given the car’s import status, it may not fly in every state, so caveat emptor and all that. The seller also provided no fewer than 220 photos, so it’s not hard to gauge the car’s overall condition. It is far from pristine, and in most areas it’s not even clean, with dust, dirt, staining, and what looks to be pet hair throughout the interior, which itself is an interesting mix of suede up front and leather in the back. The exterior is straight, dent-free, and rust-free, though there are some minor paint scuffs throughout. This is all stuff you might expect from a family wagon driven in a manner that dumps the groceries, and we’d peg this one in #3 (Good) condition.

Now, we don’t feature the 1998 Nissan Stagea 260RS in the Hagerty Price Guide, but we do the 1998 R33 Skyline GT-R, and in similar condition we price them at about $54,000. Other recent 260RS sales (there aren’t many) seem to fall into the $30K–$50K range based on condition and mileage, so this result seems par for the course. And when compared to that GT-R valuation, it’s quite a bargain.

Fast wagons will never not be cool. When they happen to be far cheaper than the supercar on which they’re based, it’s hard to go wrong. Driving a RHD car on our roads might have its inconvenient moments, sure, and parts availability may present some challenges—particularly the body kit bits—but mechanically you can find much of what you need through Nissan Heritage. And the growing network of JDM specialists cropping up as more and more cars make their way over will only help matters.

So, congrats to the winning bidder. First order of business should be a thorough detail, but then go have fun with it. Just try not to spill stuff.

Read next Up next: Auction Recap: Gooding & Co. Amelia Island 2024


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