The Figaro was introduced at the 1989 Tokyo Motor Show under the slogan “Back to the Future”. Production was between 1991 and 1992. It was built by a Nissan special projects group called the Pike Factory who also produced other niche automobiles Be-1, Pao, and S-Cargo.
The Figaro however was by far the most popular. Only four colours were available: Topaz Mist, Emerald Green, Pale Aqua, and Lapis Grey. Ironically the least popular was Topaz Mist, only 2000 were finished in this colour, which now has become the most sought after shade. It is fashionable now to completely re-colour a Figaro. Contact us if you have a favourite colour choice. Only 8,000 Figaros were originally produced with an additional 12,000 added to meet demand in less than 2 years. Most of them are now in the UK and prices are slowly rising and surely set to increase as time passes.
The Figaro comes fully fitted with leather seats, air conditioning, a retro look CD player and a retractable roof that completely folds into its own boot keeping the strong design lines of the car. It was designed by Shoji Takahashi who won a design competition with it. One of his inspirations was Swatch who design identical watches changing only the colours. Takahashi also took ideas from many classical, European, and particularly Italian car designs.
The Figaro engine is Nissan’s MA10ET, a turbocharged 1.0 L (987 cc). It has a three speed automatic gearbox; it was not available in any other way. The car has a capacity for four people. Interior height is 1130mm width is 1310mm. It does around 68 mpg and has a 75bhp output.
BUYING JAPANESE CARS
There are many advantages to buying a car imported from Japan. Japanese cars have a higher spec than their UK equivalents. Most of them are sold at auction, unlike in the UK where usually just poorer vehicles go to auction for quick sale. All Japanese trade and most private sales go through their many auction houses. These are precise operations with hundreds of people in front of computer screens processing rapid turnovers.
All auction cars are inspected and given an appraisal sheet showing interior and exterior condition by grade. Most cars have a much lower mileage than their UK equivalents, partly because Japan is a small country and residents are encouraged to walk or cycle in the towns. On top of this most speed limits are less than 60mph so in general the cars travel more slowly; all Japanese cars are restricted to 110mph. Unlike the UK Japan doesn’t salt roads, which means that the car hasn’t suffered the corrosion salting causes. In addition Japanese drivers are encouraged to sell their cars before they get too old, compared with the UK practice of hanging on to vehicles for a long time. To encourage quick turnover there is a very strict Japanese MOT equivalent called the Shakken, which includes rigorous emission testing. To stimulate people to buy new cars, Japanese tax increases as cars age. Japanese parts are usually cheap so servicing is done on a regular basis. The myth that insurance is necessarily high on imported cars is simply untrue; there are many insurers who compete on prices for these cars. Contact us if you need to find one.
- Wayne Hemingway, industrial designer
- Joss Stone, soul singer
- Vanessa Feltz, TV presenter
- Eric Clapton, guitarist
- Nancy Sorrell, model and wife of Vic Reeves
- Akihiro Miwa, Japanese singer
- Danny Wallace, writer and TV presenter. The purchase of his Figaro is related in his book “The Yes Man”
- Andrew Marr, BBC journalist and political commentator, drives one in the opening credits of his TV show
- Sarah Jane Smith, fictional character from TV series’ Doctor Who and The Sarah Jane Adventures – the Figaro is now of great interest to young children due to this programme!
- Alexandra Shulman, Editor of British Vogue
- HRH Princess Eugenie, youngest daughter of the Duke and Duchess of York