Gear Head Tuesday – Nissan Figaro

Gear Head


A rare Nissan Figaro in Topaz Mist

Nissan Figaro

The Nissan Figaro was introduced at the 1989 Tokyo Motor Show under the slogan “Back to the Future”. The name “Figaro” references the title character in the play The Marriage of Figaro by Pierre Beaumarchais whose play was used by Mozart in his famous opera of the same name.

Based on the Nissan Micra, the Figaro was built at Aichi Machine Industry, a special projects group which Nissan would later call “Pike Factory,” which also produced three other niche automobiles: the Be-1, Pao and S-Cargo.

Nissans’ S-Cargo is a retromobile cheerfully modeled on the Citroën 2-CV van, the name a happy pun on the 2-CV’s Gallic origins.

Nissan’s four retromobiles of the early 1990s were rounded out by the Be-1, left and the Mini-inspired Pao on the right.

The Figaro is a two-door 2 place retro-styled fixed-profile convertible built only for model year 1991, and originally marketed solely in Japan at their Nissan Cherry Stores sales channel. (Japanese car manufacturers sold various models in various sales channels, one of Nissan’s being their “Cherry” stores. Nissan eliminated this practice in 1999.)

Sales of the Figaro were by lottery only and the lottery was massively over subscribed. Nissan exported some Figaros to Great Britain where it was as greatly sought after as it was in Japan. A handful have made their way to the U.S., though they were never officially imported by Nissan. Only twenty thousand examples were built by Nissan in the convertible’s single year of production – all with right hand drive.

The design is variously attributed to Naoki Sakai and/or Shoji Takahashi.

In 2011, noted design critic Phil Patton, writing for the New York Times, called the Pike cars “the height of postmodernism” and “unabashedly retro, promiscuously combining elements of the Citroën 2CV, Renault 4, Mini [and] Fiat 500.”


The Figaro’s fabric roof retracts as did the roof of the 1950 Nash Rambler Landau

As a fixed-profile convertible, the upper side elements of the Figaro’s bodywork remain fixed, while its fabric soft top retracts to provide a less fully open experience than a typical convertible. The fixed-profile concept is seen on other convertibles, including the Citroën 2CV (1948–1990), the Nash Rambler Convertible “Landau” Coupe (1950), and the 1957 Fiat 500 – as well its 2007 Fiat 500 successor.

The Figaro was marketed in four colors representing the four seasons: Topaz Mist (Autumn), Emerald Green (Spring), Pale Aqua (Summer) and Lapis Grey (Winter). Of the four colors, Topaz Mist is the rarest with only 2,000 Figaros painted in that color.

The Figaro was offered in four colors representing the four seasons: Topaz Mist (Autumn) as seen at the top of the page; Pale Aqua (Summer), left – above; Emerald Green (Spring), upper right – above; and Lapis Grey (Winter), lower right-above.

The Figaro was equipped with leather seats, air conditioning, CD player and a fixed-profile slide-back open roof, a passenger-side basket and cup holders.

The Figaros have rack and pinion steering, McPherson strut front suspension and a 4 link solid axle rear suspension fitted with an anti-sway bar. Brakes are disc front and drum rear with power assist.




Add yours →

  1. Kind’of reminds me of the Lloyd built in Germany back in the 50’s.
    thanks Paul.


  2. I had never seen this dude before. But if you ever had a convertible break in the middle you would appreciate the side lines. I bought a couple Metros once and the guy said I had to take the Renault (?) with a removable hard top. I took it of course, it was free.. When I removed the top and opened the doors she broke in the middle (frame rust). I gave it to Jim, Shirl’s hubby who collected Studebaker’s. He would take anything on 4 wheels. LOL
    I had forgotten about the ’50 nash.
    THanks. Lots I do not know about cars, but I like ’em.


  3. Gordon F. Kertzel,lll 08/02/2017 — 06:07

    Paul, another great piece! I never knew these existed, especially in the 1990’s. You know I like unusual, and despite the fact that I have drastically downsized, I would consider up sizing again for one of these. Gordon


  4. christofear 11/02/2017 — 22:00

    Why, oh why weren’t there sold in the USA?


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