by Peter Dushenski
Yesterday, as I was trundling through downtown, saturated with sodium and returning from lunch with a couple colleagues, I spotted this retrotastic ode to Japanese motoring.
Fittingly, we were returning from Kyoto Japanese Cuisine, where I’d gone on at some length about how much I adored Japanese culture, but don’t much care for the food. Everyone else had sushi, I found the diced beef and rice on the menu. Hey, if I weren’t a little different from the rest of the herd, I wouldn’t be ogling rare Rising Sun metal.
It was Lapis Grey, one of the four colours (each symbolizing a different season) that the little know Nissan was offered in, and I immediately started sharing my limited knowledge of the design icon with my uninterested coworkers. The only reason they were listening to me ramble on at all was that I’d just given them a quick ride in the Japanese technological wonder that is the Lexus GS450h, the review of which is upcoming.
In bold contrast to the horrifically fast Lexus hybrid, the 75hp Figaro is powered by a 1.0L turbocharged engine that ships its gusto to the front wheels. Hopelessly trying to cope with the prodigious power are 165/70R12 tires. Take that, dubs.
But that’s only part of the reason why the Figaro has won international design awards. It’s also won them on account of the power-folding tuna can top, similar to that of the Fiat 500. Shoji Takahashi, the designer, hit a home run for Nissan at a fragile time for the company.
Amazingly, Nissan only ever produced 20,000 of the 1950’s-inspired coupe, allowing demand to far outstrip supply. At a feathery weight of 1,800lbs, that means that only there are only 36 million pounds of Figaro on the planet. Compare this to the more than 41 million pounds of Rolls Royce Phantom that have rolled off the production line since 2003, and the scarcity of the Figaro comes into immediate perspective.
Through the magic of social media, just hours after @carenvy tweeted the Fig sighting, the owner (@onedery) made himself known and has graciously offered to participate in an exclusive comparison test with the Nissan Pao. We’re still hammering out the details, but expect a feature on these pages in late August.
[Photo credits: author, cheharrigan/Flikr]