The 1991 Nissan Figaro, Completing a Cutesy Collection


Today’s Rare Ride is the last entrant in a set of four cars introduced to the series back in November 2018. Tiny, retro, and a convertible, Nissan’s Figaro is by far the most popular of the four Pike cars. It’s also the one you can always find for sale in the United States.

Let’s take a look.

All four Pike cars were produced at the Aichi Machine Industry factory, which Nissan later called its Pike Factory. All four were based on Nissan’s Micra and intended to appeal to a youthful, fun-oriented customer. The first Pike car introduced was the Be-1, a funky sort-of hatchback with design references from the Sixties and Seventies. Notably, the Be-1 was the only Pike built on the first generation Micra platform, which dated to 1983. All three of its successors were on the second-generation Micra platform.

Following the Be-1 was the Pao (the second most popular Pike car in the US), which looked older and more utilitarian, but had a more traditional clamshell hatchback in contrast to the small trunk of the Be-1. After the Pao came the S-Cargo, a tiny utility van designed to look as much as possible like a snail. Nissan succeeded there. And finally, the Figaro brought up the rear of the Pike car run, with a singular model year in 1991.

Figaro was the most luxurious Pike car and the least utilitarian by design. With its smooth and funky retro styling, it was decidedly cutesy. With seating for four (barely), Figaro was a fixed-profile convertible, where a canvas roof folded into the rear behind the second row of seats and took with it the rear window. All pillars remained in place. Well-equipped for a Kei car in 1991, all examples featured leather seating with contrasting piping, retro interior knobs, a CD player, and air conditioning. Paint colors were four and corresponded with the seasons.

All examples were front-drive, automatic, and used a 987-cc turbocharged inline-four shared with the Micra. The engine was good for 76 horses and 78 lb-ft of torque.

Figaro proved very popular upon its debut. The initial planned run was 8,000 cars, but an additional 12,000 were produced to meet unending consumer demand. All were sold via a lottery: Excited customers won their chance to buy a Figaro. Once they were all sold, the Pike program was finished.

The Figaro’s standout design, small size, simplicity, price, and age make it a popular JDM import option in the United States. There are over 100 for sale on AutoTrader right now at various price points, starting at under $9,000. The Figaro is one of the cheapest ways to get a classic JDM car in the US. Today’s gray example is for sale at a well-known JDM car outlet in Virginia. With 64,000 miles, it asks $12,900.

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