A Brief History of the Iconic Nissan Figaro…
Based on the Nissan Micra, the Figaro was specially commissioned by Nissan amongst a collection of other wacky offerings to celebrate 50 years of Nissan production. The Figaro classic car was unveiled at the Tokyo Motor show in 1989 under the banner “Back to the Future” and was sold only in Japan for the model year 1991. The Japanese fell instantly in love with the cute, head-turning little convertible car, and demand was so high a lottery had to be introduced so prospective buyers would be allowed to buy one!
In the years since, the Figaro has attracted worldwide popularity with a dedicated following of classic and retro car collectors and enthusiasts, particularly in the UK and USA. Until 2016, it was illegal to import a Figaro into the USA because it fell under the ’25-year rule’, which made it illegal to import cars aged under 25 years not meeting certain safety and emissions standards. Classic cars are now exempt from this rule meaning Nissan Figaros are eligible for import to the USA, making them amongst the most common classic collectible cars being shipped there.
Prospective customers wanting to own a Figaro in the USA have three main options, to import one from Japan, to import one from a specialist dealer in the UK or to buy one from an auction or non-specialist dealer in the USA.
How do I import a Nissan Figaro to the USA from Japan?
Importing from Japan can be a lengthy project to organize but a fairly straightforward process, and for a Figaro in original condition from here you should be prepared to part with around 5.5K-8.5K USD, although second hand Figaro prices are rising everywhere. They were all manufactured in four factory colours (Pale Aqua, Topaz Mist, Emerald Green and Lapis Grey) and all are fitted with white leather interior, power steering, air conditioning and CD player as standard. Vehicles in their original colours tend to be priced higher than resprayed examples, but some completely bespoke, resprayed and refurbished models have been known to fetch up to 41K USD.
Once you buy the car, you will be given an original Bill of Sale and its logbook, or V5C form from the seller, auction or dealership. You’ll need these in order to collect your car from customs in the USA. Then you’ll need to organise shipping. Cheaper options like roll on/roll off shipping are quicker, while container shipping is more expensive but generally agreed to be a safer method. The more you’re prepared to pay for shipping, the better attention and protection you can expect your Figaro to receive on its journey over in transit.
How do I import a Nissan Figaro from the UK?
The bulk of specialist second-hand Figaro dealers operate in the UK. The car’s massive popularity here is probably down to our love of anything eccentric, retro, classic and weird; because the Figaro’s hardy design make it well suited to the temperate UK climate; and, of course, it’s handy to have the steering wheel on the right-hand side of the car!
Most specialist dealers here, like The Figaro Shop, will usually source a Figaro for you within the UK. This cuts out lots of work for you and gives you the best chance of finding and buying the Figaro that most closely matches your budget and requirements, because Figaro dealers have lots of product knowledge and direct industry experience. When importing from the UK to the USA, rather than from Japan, the shipping distance is also cut in half, and most dealers will organize the logistics of transit for you (some specialists like the Figaro Shop can go further and organize delivery of your Figaro to your door).
The Figaro has celebrated a big birthday recently, and so inevitably many examples are beginning to show their age after thirty-odd years of wear and tear. A major advantage of using a specialist is that many, including the Figaro Shop, offer to ‘make-over’ your Figaro before passing it on to you. This often involves customized upgrading of many of the car’s accessories and components, refurbishment of the exterior and interior, customised body respray and a full service, so you can have a totally bespoke Figaro that truly is a car that makes your dreams come true.
How do I buy a Nissan Figaro in the USA?
Since the change to standards and emissions in the USA, the popularity and demand for the Nissan Figaro as a collectible classic car is growing over the country, with many dealers using classic car auctions, Figaro clubs and Facebook groups for buying and selling. Prices in the USA can vary widely depending on whether the seller is private or a dealership (autotrader.com gives a good guide to this); on the condition of the car and whether it has been upgraded or refurbished. Similar to other countries, prospective buyers can expect prices to start from the 4000 USD mark, although some Nissan Figaros in the US have been known to go for as much as 12,500 USD — more than the car originally cost when new.
As with buying any car, it’s essential to get proof of authenticity, and if you are buying remotely, a thorough, reliable description of the car’s condition is definitely advised.
If you need any more help or advice then do get in touch with us at The Figaro Shop. We love these iconic little cars and we love talking about them!