The Figaro has been referred to as a 'retro fashion car,' and was born out of the Japanese 'boutique' movement in car design. Japanese designer Shoji Takahashi was inspired by Swatch watches - the notion that it was possible to give identical products different casings.
The magpies of the Figaro design team took all the best and shiniest bits from a variety of European cars and fused them into an almost-cartoon whole. There's something there to remind you of just about every classic car you have ever seen. An Austin Healey specialist provided the grille, a Vauxhall one the chrome and some panels are Ford Popular, others vintage Rootes. Owners will become used to pensioners approaching to say 'I had one of those in the sixties!' - no mean feat considering the car was introduced to the public at the 1989 Tokyo Motor Show under the slogan 'Back to the Future.'
- Press Release, 14 February, 1991
Nissan announced that they were to produce 20,000 Figaro (to be released in three batches, between February and September 1991), but demand was so great that potential users had to enter a lottery in order to win the chance to buy the new car, which was priced at 1,870,000 yen (£10,000).
What It Looks Like
There are those who believe cars like the Figaro are cute and trendy. They're not. It is a suburban Noddymobile
- Quentin Willson, 2003
This judgement, from the man who left Top Gear to front Channel 5's Britain's Worst Driver, might be taken by many Figaro owners as the ultimate compliment. In truth, the Figaro is not a million miles away from the glorious motor favoured by the best mate of Big Ears - but put in for a pastel respray. The only visible Nissan badge is in the shape of a fleur de lys on the bonnet and the car itself appears to date from the late 1950s or early 1960s - it's all curves and chrome (the lighting units, the grille, the bumpers, hinges, handles) and is finished off with elliptical white wing mirrors (rather like the ones later used in the design of the 'new' Mini Cooper). The car is a convertible, with a sliding soft-top that folds neatly into the trunk so as not to spoil the natural lines of the vehicle. Even the hubcaps are distinctive - white and chrome and reminiscent of Polo mints. The interior is finished in cream with off-white leather seats, and the electric windows are controlled by sea-shell shaped chrome switches. The custom-made CD player/radio is fashioned from Bakelite-effect plastic. There are companies that restore them (at great expense) to full working order and the casing is so beautiful in itself that it would probably be a mistake to replace it. The dashboard is awash with chunky chrome switches to control the air conditioning and the white steering wheel surrounds a substantial mother-of-pearl horn. There is even a rear seat of sorts.
The car was produced in four colours: lapis grey (it's lilac when the sun shines, honest), pale aqua (light blue), emerald (pale green) and the rarer topaz mist (a sort of caramel colour). However, as the 1991 press release explains, 'to bring out an atmosphere of light hearted elegance, the entire car is painted in a solid two-tone colour scheme that accentuates the beauty of the body surfaces' - and so, the convertible roof is off-white. Still, people will always customise cars - resprays are not unheard of and vehicles whose owners have decided to depart from the traditional colour schemes can be found cruising along sunny sea-fronts. The most popular 'non- Figaro colour is 'Barbie Pink Nissan Figaro'.
February 14, 1991
Nissan Announces Domestic Release of All-New Nissan Figaro
TOKYO – Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. Today launched limited domestic sales of the all-new Figaro, a compact coupe that follows the successful Be-1, Escargot and Pao niche cars. The sales volume will be limited to 20,000 units.
The Figaro was developed around the concept of creating a distinctive, personalised coupe that would allow owners to enjoy a delicate feeling of stylish elegance in everyday life. In commercialising the concept vehicle Nissan has given the car a unique design that conveys a sense of spiritual satisfaction and a full complement of equipment and appointments intended to satisfy a zestful desire for a good time. In addition, careful attention has been paid to enhancing the quality and safety features of the car, resulting in an eminently refined product.
The overall body form is composed of large curved surfaces and natural lines. High-quality chrome plating is used effectively on the bumper, side sill mouldings and other body trim parts to create a unique design. To bring out an atmosphere of light hearted elegance, the entire car is painted in a solid two-tone colour scheme that accentuates the beauty of the body surfaces.
The Figaro is built with a sliding soft top that opens wide to allow occupants to enjoy the exhilarating pleasure of open-air motoring while travelling in elegant style. Leaving the rear pillars and side roof rails in place, the top folds neatly into the trunk so as not to detract from the distinctive body styling.
The entire body is painted with a fluororesin paint that provides superior water repellency and also maintains its new-car luster over a much longer period than ordinary paint.
The interior is rendered in rounded surfaces throughout to match the gentle curves of the exterior design and is intended to give the occupants a feeling of enhanced pleasure and comfort.
Front and back seats are covered with authentic white leather. Providing the appearance and tactile sensation that only natural materials impart, the leather seats project a friendly, inviting image with a touch of chic refinement.
Powering the Figaro is the compact, lightweight MA10ET engine, a 1 litre turbocharged unit that provides outstanding fuel economy and quietness. To ensure pleasant, comfortable driving and ease of operation, the Nissan Figaro is available only with a 3-speed automatic transmission. The chassis system consists of McPherson struts at the front and a four-link-type coil spring suspension at the rear. A rack and pinion power steering system is employed to allow easy manoeuvring at low speeds or when parking.
(4) Safety Enhancements
A host of advanced features are incorporated in the car to ensure a high level of safety. These enhancements include side door beams, three-point seat belts for all occupants, high-mounted stop lamps, flame-resistant interior materials, a body construction with high strength and rigidity and a special system to prevent misoperation of the soft top.
(5) Price and sales method
The Nissan Figaro is priced at 1,870,000 yen. (about £10,000 and remember this was in 1991, over 15 years ago!!!) Details regarding the three allotments of the limited sales volume, ordering periods and lottery result announcements are as follows:
Ordering Period Lottery Result Sales
1st allotment Feb.14 – March 14 April 6 8,000
2nd allotment March 15 – June 16 June 29 6,000
3rd Allotment June 17 – Aug. 31 Sept. 14 6,000
Overall length (mm) 3,740
Overall width (mm) 1,630
Overall height (mm) 1,365
Wheelbase (mm) 2,300
Tread: front (mm) 1,350
rear (mm) 1,335
Ground clearance (mm) 150
Curb weight (kg) 810
Turning radius (m) 4.7
Steering Rack and pinion
with power assistance
Suspension: front Independent struts, rear 4 link coil springs
Brakes: front Ventilated discs, rear Drums
Tires: front 165/70R12 77H, rear 165/70R12 77H
Overall sizes of body (Length,Width,Height), mm 3740 x.1630 x 1365
The wheel base, mm 2300
Distance between front/rear wheels, mm 1350/1335
Height of road clearance (clearance), mm 150
Weight without passengers, kg 810
Weight with passengers, kg (how big are your friends!)
Number of Passenger Spaces 2,+2
Number of doors 2
Minimum radius of turn, m 4.7
Volume of fuel tank, L 40
Volume of engine, cube.cm 987
Stamp of the engine MA10ET
Maximum power, l.s./.rpm 76 ps (55.90 kw)/6000 rpm
Maximum moment, N*.m*(.kg*.m)/.rpm 10.8 kg*.m (105.91 N*.m)/4400 rpm
The specific power 10.66
Type of the engine Serial 4 cylinder OHC turbo
Information about the engine
Type of the supply of the fuel NISSAN ECCS
Fuel Unleaded regular gasoline
System of reduction in the quantity of harmful ejections (LEV) No
Compression ratio 8
Diameter of piston, mm 68
Piston stroke, mm 68
Fuel consumption in the city, mpg (13.6km/L) 31.9 (estimated)
Fuel consumption after the city, mpg (24.1km/L) 56.6 (estimated)
0w40, 4w30, 10w40, 15w40, 20w50
Power Assisted Steering Yes
Front wheels 165/70R12 77H
Rear wheels 165/70R12 77H
Front & Rear Tyre pressure for 165/70R12 77H 2.0 kgf/cm2 == 28.44 psi
Front brakes Ventilated disk
Rear brakes Drum (leading/trailing)
Front suspension Independent suspension strut type
Rear suspension 4 link coil type + stabilizer
Standard top Body Colour
Optional Main Body Colours
Other Colours upon Special Order inc Barbie Pink Nissan Figaro for sale
See the Nissan Figaro Video here (No tools or downloads necessary, run time 2mins 06 secs)...Nissan Figaro Video