My First Encounter With A Nissan Pao
Photography by Ted Gushue
It’s true what they say: Out of sight, out of mind.
I’d never seen a Nissan Pao in person before. I’d heard of them, sure – friends of friends had mentioned the existence of these mythological Kei cars for years, but to see one in person? That just wasn’t a thing. Mercifully, thanks to the 25 year rule, more and more of these little guys are popping up on American roads.
One such example is owned by Petrolicious reader Godis Sanchez, who just so happens to live not far from Petrolicious HQ. He dropped an email seeing if we’d be interested in checking out his new toy, and the answer was obvious.
Ted Gushue: Tell me a bit about how the Pao started with a Nissan because it’s a story I think not many people really know.
Godis Sanchez: This car was built by Nissan in the Pike Factory from 1989 to 1991. It was a limited production vehicle only sold in Japan and never came to the states. It sold out within three hours.
TG: How many were going to be made in the run?
GS: The whole run lasted about 52,000 cars in total.
TG: 52,000 people living in Japan ordered one of these within three hours?
GS: Yes, but that’s including the different varieties that they had. They had one that was called the Be-1. Then, there was the Nissan Figaro. There was a Nissan Pao and the last one was the Nissan S-Cargo.
TG: These cars aren’t very fast, are they?
GS: No. It has a full 52-horsepower, 0 to 60 depending on the dinner you have last night. That’s about it.
TG: When did you first become aware of them?
GS: I’d been searching for one for a while and I was looking for the perfect one. I wanted the specific color. I wanted with a canvas top because they also came with a tin top, but I wanted canvas top, and I was specifically also looking for automatic, three-speed automatic.
TG: Where’s the market at on them? What do these trade for?
GS: Many people ask about the value. To me, the value is driving around, having fun, seeing the people that smile when you show up and everybody comes around you and ask you, “What is that?” That’s the value that the car brings to me. Money-wise, it’s just not important.
TG: For sure. I meant more in the … just because it’s something that I could never compare to anything else.
GS: Yeah. It’s different. It’s unique. Most of the people say that it looks kind of like a Mini and a Fiat, and different little features on it, but I love the fact that it’s just different.