Nissan in Japan was pumping out a bevy of cute, retro compact cars in the late ’80s and early ’90s. These Pike Factory models include cars like the Be-1 and Figaro were touted for their magnificent retro styling, bulletproof reliability, and low cost of ownership. Our 1989 Pao, with only 70K verified miles, looks like a 1960’s beach cruiser yet has all the functionality of a modern vehicle. The Aqua Gray (FJ0) paint shows exceptionally well for its age, free of any notable blemishes sans the normal Stone chips and scratches associated with daily driving. The wild body lines have been kept up just as well, free of any notable dents or dings. One of the key elements that make these such perfect summer cars is the power fabric rag top. As one would expect, the convertible Pao isn’t like your traditional drop-top. The power top opens up like a sunroof on steroids retaining its trademark shape. This also means it can be fitted with a split-folding rear hatch. The top glass can be opened separately and creates a cavernous storage area.
The retro styling carries through to the interior finished in tan with an Aqua and charcoal dash. The seats are in good shape showing little signs of wear which is impressive considering the color combo. The thatched tan cloth is robust and is comfortable on long trips. Devoid of any notable rips or stains in the seats and carpet; both are in excellent condition for the age of the vehicle. The retro styling flows into the interior sporting a painted metal dash, keeping with the 60’s vibe, coupled with a single large multi-function gauge. One of the more rare options is the OEM radio which is present and functioning as well as it can considering the frequency difference between Japan and the US. It even has a clever little selectable volume switch for when the top is open vs closed. The side windows are split in half to allow the bottom to pop out as an additional vent. For those days that it may be too hot to open things up, the Pao is fitted with full climate control. The A/C blows cold and the thickness of the top helps to insulate the cabin in the colder months. The most notable interior flaw is some scuff marks on the interior side of the soft top, but they are purely cosmetic.
Power comes from the, equally cute, 1 liter MA10S. After all, this was built to be a fun little runabout, not a track terror. The engine starts quickly care of a new 12V battery. The motor sets into an even idle, and revs freely. The 5-speed manual transmission actually does a noticeably better job getting this little cruiser up to speed than its automatic counterpart. Providing two more forward gears than the automatic, one might actually claim this Pao feels peppy. The suspension is well built for soaking up bumps, ensuring a pleasant afternoon cruise that doesn’t rattle your teeth out. Braking feels reassured and the full-faced wheels do a wonderful job of eliminating brake dust. Grip comes in the form of four new all-season tires, mounted and balanced by one of our expert technicians. A new air filter and oil and filter service complete the maintenance update, and the next service isn’t needed for another three thousand miles.
The Pao turns heads everywhere it goes and is assured to make a fuss every time you leave it in a parking lot. There’s no doubt that you’ll be hard-pressed to come across another one at a stoplight, so be prepared for the questions everyone will have. But honestly with a standout like this, who could blame them? This comfy, unique cruiser is turn-key ready, and a special type of Japanese Classic.
*California Residents: In order to register a Grey Market vehicle in the state of California then it will have to be made CARB complaint first. CARB certifications will have to be performed within the state. Depending on the vehicle and any existing modifications will affect the pricing. Typically CARB compliance will range between 5-10K. Additional information can be found on the California Air Resources Board website.