Nissan’s Pike Factory Cars Were Retro Before Retro Was Cool
Today, the four pint-sized cars, including the once-popular Pao and Figaro, are ideal gateways into classic car ownership
In the late ‘90s, the American auto market began its long flirtation with retro-classic design led by models like the Chrysler PT Cruiser, Volkswagen New Beetle and Plymouth Prowler. But by that time, this particular vibe had already run its course on the other side of the Pacific. In fact, Japan’s own infatuation with the marriage of modern motoring and old-school styling had originated nearly a dozen years before Detroit discovered the benefits of mining nostalgia.
In 1985, Nissan took its customers by surprise with the Be-1, a pint-sized car that wrapped one of the brand’s existing commuter platforms in a shape seemingly lifted from a time machine. In the process, it kicked off a minor design revolution that not only changed how Japanese buyers approached the cheap and cheerful section of the showroom, but also reverberated through the years to impact modern-day enthusiasts.