6k: Yesterday’s Future of Tomorrow’s Design: 1988 Nissan Pao

Everyone loves a car with quirks, until the quirks distract from the point of the vehicle. Like how the modern MINI’s toggle switches can be frustrating to use, or some Wes Anderson films just become hard to watch. The Pao’s very reason for existence is its quirk, and it manages to pull it off. Its dominant speedometer, odd stereo design, and heavily ridged body were a hit in Japan. This one has managed to bring its essence here to America, along with its rare 5-speed manual transmission and non-folding tin top. Find this JDM 1988 Nissan Pao in Portland, OR for $6,499 via craigslist.

The Pao was built under the umbrella of Pike cars – a name denoting the cutting edge. Paradoxically, it blazed the trail in automotive design by pointing to the past. This tike borrows classic design cues from Citroen, Renault, Morris, and others. If you squint, you can see the modern Nissan Cube’s face in this Pao’s snout. Although the exposed hinges, seams, and rivets were left in the past with its very un-cuboid circular design motif.

It managed an 87-mph top speed from its 8V, 987cc four, which was big enough to exclude the Pike line from Kei-car classification. With only 1,600 pounds to move around, its performance will be slow but enjoyable thanks to a 5-speed manual. Someone has been able to live with it for 127,000 kilometers (79,000 miles). Most of those could have been on Japanese roads, although the seller doesn’t specify. This Pao is currently registered and titled in Washington.

Space inside is cramped. Although it technically has seating for five, the seller recommends two to four maximum (depending on their personal hygiene). Close shifter placement allows you to switch from AM to FM with your knuckle hairs. Let that be your motivation for perfecting left-hand shifting.

See a cuter Japanese rarity? Email us at tips@dailyturismo.com.

PhiLOL actually likes the tuna here, but abhors structural rust. Save the manuals.