Nissan Pao is First Produced
The Nissan Pao, first announced at the Tokyo Motor Show in October 1987, is a retro-styled automobile from Nissan Motors.
It was available as a three-door hatchback with or without a textile sun roof ("canvas-top"), the canvas top being the most collectible . The Pao was one of three fashionable spinoffs of the K10 Micra — the Figaro and Be-1 being the other two. Like the Figaro, the Pao was sold without the Nissan name and only by reservation from January 15 through April 14, 1989; orders were served according to their date of placing. The Pao sold out in 3 months and is a highly sought after and collectible car. Very few were made and the car is featured on permanent display in the Museum Of Modern Art in New York.
According to the article on Japanese Wikipedia, the name is a Chinese word describing a type of house used by nomads in Mongolia for assembly or meetings.
The engine was the 1.0 L (987 cc) MA10S, coupled with a 3-speed automatic transmission or a 5-speed manual transmission, the manual being the most sought after. The engine produced 62 PS (61 hp/48 kW) at 6000 rpm and 76 N·m (76 ft·lbf) at 3600 rpm.
It was designed as a fashionable city car in the mold of the Figaro, requiring just 4.4 m (14.4 ft) to turn and delivering up to 51 mpg (5.5 L/100 km) in the city and 79 mpg (3.4 L/100 km) at a steady 60 km/h (37 mph).
The chassis included rack and pinion steering, independent suspension with struts in front and 4-links and coil springs in back. It has a clamshell hatch in back, meaning the glass section swings up and the bottom portion opens down to create a tailgate.
There can be absolutely no doubt that Nissan's Pao is a very interesting car, and while it might not be to everyone's tastes it forges the way forward in an industry where mediocrity and minimum-offense are consider de rigour.
By minimum-offense what I mean is that modern cars are designed in such a way as to offend the absolute minimum number of people. Whilst trying to stick to this aim it is very difficult to create a car with any character at all since character almost instantly makes customers form two camps, one of hate and one of like (or love!).
Nissan, somewhere along the line, decided to go against the grain and to design a truly characterful car. The product of their efforts was the quirky Nissan Pao, released in 1989 to an adoring public and remaining the apple of many eyes until the present day. Buying a Nissan Pao now is not impossible but certainly very difficult even in their native county Japan. Finding a good quality model in the UK or the US is extremely difficult.
Many importers specialize in bringing cars like this back from Japan, making them road worthy and then selling them on at a premium, but with only 10,000 models released nearly twenty years ago they are becoming might scarce.
What makes the owning of a Nissan Pao such a pleasure, and what makes it so appealing to owners and fans alike, is that it is truly not afraid to break boundaries. It looks like a car from the fifties but has a very modern specification. It does not try to be something that it isn't but seems happy with its minor lot in life.
If only more cars were able to be built this way.