This Quirky Automobile Is Japanese. However There’s ‘One thing Very British’ About It.

LONDON — It simply could be essentially the most lovely factor on 4 wheels. Individuals smile when one cruises by. They level, they wave, they use the phrase “cute” quite a bit, they usually ask, “What is that?”

The tiny Nissan Figaro has an virtually cartoonish design that’s assured to face out. To an American residing in Britain, who commonly spots pristine Figaros, it will seem like a extremely in style mannequin that was made not too long ago.

Each a part of that guess is mistaken: The Figaro is relatively outdated, constructed for the 1991 mannequin yr, and there by no means have been massive numbers wherever. Nissan by no means even exported it from Japan.

But right here it’s in Britain, within the 1000’s, an oddball little convertible with an ardent following and a again story that’s even odder.

Extra on that in a minute.

Britain by no means had dominant carmakers like Ford, Basic Motors and Chrysler. As a substitute, for generations, it had a profusion of small-to-medium producers.

These carmakers produced a a lot wider array of designs than their American counterparts, a very good variety of them quirky, small, underpowered, none too sensible — and beloved by their many admirers.

However within the face of international competitors, recessions, bankruptcies and consolidation, British automobile manufacturing plummeted from its peak within the early 1970s. Manufacturers like Morris, Triumph, Austin, Sunbeam, Daimler, Rover and Reliant died off.

An more and more aggressive and world market had much less room for eccentric vehicles, British or not, or for fashions that promote only some thousand.

Vehicles have misplaced their character,” stated Nic Caraccio, a loyal Figaro proprietor and dealer who lives outdoors London. “In the event you exit on the road now, the Citroëns and Vauxhalls and Skodas and Peugeots, they’re all black or white or silver, they usually all look the identical. Not the Fig.”




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Positively not. And it’s the look that entices folks right here — the curvy, throwback form, and the entrance finish that would have been the face of one of many animated characters within the film “Vehicles.”

“The quirkiness, there’s one thing very British about it, isn’t there?” stated Colin Bullock, a harbormaster in London. “It’s so acquainted to folks, even when they’ve by no means seen it earlier than. They are saying, ‘Oh, I used to have a type of in 1962,’ which is unimaginable, and I simply smile.”


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