Old School

HERE IS A VERY RARE JA­PANESE KEI CAR THAT MELTS OUR HEARTS

Top Gear (Philippines) - - Contents - WORDS BY JOEY BERNARDEZ PHO­TOG­RA­PHY BY CHRIS­TIAN HALILI

You can’t help but smile when you see a Nis­san Fi­garo. It re­ally is a cute lit­tle thing.

If a ma­chine could be the man­i­fes­ta­tion of a good mood, this car would be it. You can­not look at it with­out smil­ing. It has the ap­peal of a puppy! This is a Nis­san Fi­garo, built in 1991, based on the Mi­cra, and pow­ered by a 1.0-liter tur­bocharged en­gine. Only 20,000 units built, one year only—solely for the Ja­panese mar­ket.

The Fi­garo, with its clas­sic good looks, has mod­ern con­ve­niences like power steer­ing, power brakes, power win­dows, au­to­matic trans­mis­sion, and air-con­di­tion­ing. And of course, it also has that fixed-pro­file rag-top.

De­spite the small pro­duc­tion num­bers and be­ing avail­able only in Ja­pan, the car’s pop­u­lar­ity spans the globe. There are Fi­garo clubs world­wide, com­prised of used ex­am­ples from Ja­pan. This par­tic­u­lar car be­longs to John Resurec­cion of Las Piñas. His fa­ther bought the car in 2008 and drove it around for a cou­ple of years un­til it started to break down. Since the car was never sold here by the of­fi­cial Nis­san dis­trib­u­tor, there’s some dif­fi­culty in sourc­ing parts for it. Thus, the car sat in John’s garage ac­cu­mu­lat­ing dust and lan­guish­ing for the next five years. With his fa­ther’s per­mis­sion, John de­cided to res­ur­rect the car and fix it last year.

He sent the Fi­garo to his friend with a restoration garage in San Pablo City. Af­ter spend­ing quite a bit of money and ef­fort im­port­ing parts from Ja­pan, he was able to get it to look good and run. John now uses it as a daily driver, even if he has a Toy­ota 86, too. “The Fi­garo is the di­rect op­po­site of the 86,” he says. “The Toy­ota is road rage wait­ing to hap­pen, but the Nis­san is more like ther­apy for road rage. It elic­its smiles and fas­ci­na­tion, in­stead of envy. I have much bet­ter prob­a­bil­ity of

peo­ple giv­ing way to me at in­ter­sec­tions.” In some in­stances, peo­ple al­most hit John be­cause they are gawk­ing and smil­ing and kind of for­get they are veer­ing to­ward the Fi­garo. John also ex­plains that he can drive it fast if he wants to, but he feels much hap­pier driv­ing it at low speeds. “This is not the sort of car you drive when you are in a hurry,” he adds.

Tack­ling curves is quite in­ter­est­ing be­cause it has these tiny and nar­row 12-inch wheels, but it’s still very fun. Imag­ine the tires squeal­ing even at a very mod­er­ate 60kph. You have to go 80kph to 90kph in a nor­mal front-wheel-drive car to do the same. Crazy!

John shares that his car is al­ready 25 years old and its restoration is not yet fully com­pleted. Some small parts have yet to ar­rive from Ja­pan so it still makes funny noises. Thus, daily trips feel like an ad­ven­ture.

We haven’t heard it said be­fore but we be­lieve that the Fi­garo was meant to be a mod­ern in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the Au­to­bianchi Bianchina that was made in Italy from 1957 to 1970. Look up the car and you will see the un­de­ni­able re­sem­blance.

Re­spect goes to Nis­san for bring­ing back a clas­sic de­sign dur­ing con­tem­po­rary times. And kudos to John for shar­ing his fas­ci­nat­ing car with us!

‘The Fi­garo is pop­u­lar around the world, even if it’s strictly a JDM model’

1991 NIS­SAN FI­GARO

Few in­te­ri­ors are as cool as this. The de­sign makes a solid state­ment

Looks to be real chrome. And there is a ton of it all over. So clas­sic!

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines

© PressReader. All rights reserved.