Rusty But Worthy? 1991 Nissan Figaro – SOLD!

Mar 2021 | Craigslist ClassiFINDS, Topless Thursday

April 21, 2021 Update – we confirmed the seller of this “Classifind” deleted their listing, so we’re now able to call this one “SOLD!” While this one got away, please reach out either by email or call Rudy directly if you’d like to be informed when we come across something similar.

The world of JDM imports can range from awe-inspiring performance cars to luxurious land barges to oddball “Hello Kitty”-on-wheels roller skates that look like they’ll tip over in a stiff breeze. This 1991 Nissan Figaro is closest to that last category, but it’s also a collectible model that has enamored Japanese car enthusiasts around the globe. Originally listed in March 2021 on Craigslist in Athens, Georgia, the Figaro looks good but hides an ugly secret underneath. The seller is asking $7,500 or best reasonable offer, which compares favorably against the Hagerty Insurance Online Valuation Tool that pegs a “Good” condition model at $10,500 – but when you see the issues this car has, you may wonder if it’s closer to the “Fair” valuation of $5,300.

It’s a well-known fact that importing gray market Japanese cars is a game of chance, but after years of practice, there are many businesses dedicated to getting it right the first time when bringing over Japan’s discarded classics. You can find pages on the internet going back five, ten years where unsuspecting buyers ended up with cars and trucks that were heavily damaged in accidents or floods and simply cleaned up just enough to present well in photos. Fortunately, the top-tier importers have emerged and they pride themselves on finding the best survivors and drivers Japan has to offer, and the cars built in Nissan’s Pike factory are so coveted by collectors that these four models – the Be-1, S-Cargo, Pao, and Figaro – are seemingly safe bets for importation.

Or so it seems. We’re not sure what happened with this Figaro, but it has significant rust issues underneath. The seller simply refers to it as “…rust on inner rockers and rear sills,” but photos show what looks like gaping holes in the lower extremities of the Figaro. Now, one of the risks with a boutique car like the Figaro is whether you’re buying it from an enthusiast or someone who just likes items with a natural artistic flair, a quality the Pike factory cars possess in spades. The seller certainly provides a detailed overview of the Figaro, and notes he imported it from the UK – not Japan – in September of 2019. Service records indicate the timing belt and water pump were replaced by the previous owner, and the seller has replaced the alternator and tires. Check out the pictures and let us know: would you take on this Figaro? Good luck with the purchase if you would!

Here’s the seller’s description:

“The Figaro was made by Nissan at its Pike Factory in 1991. A Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) automobile (though not a Kei car), only 20000 were made. A few thousand made their way to the United Kingdom. This one, #11533, was imported by me from Bromsgrove, England in September 2019.

Very retro and cute! Underpinnings are from the Nissan Micra. 1000cc turbocharged 4 cylinder drive the front wheels through a 3-speed automatic. Not a fast car but plenty of power for popping around town or cruising through the country. Theoretical top speed is >100MPH but I don’t think that would be pleasant for the vehicle or the passengers 🙂

Timing belt and water pump replaced by previous owner just prior to shipping (have receipt). Cooling system strengthened for Georgia climate at Car Craft in Athens, GA (more receipts). New tires on arrival about 2000 miles ago. Roof was replaced in 2017 (receipt) and has no tears or leaks. Most recent repair was alternator replacement last fall by Car Craft. Only non-ethanol gas since I’ve had it.

Original stereo was updated by the manufacturer (Clarion) in 2011 and now has digital display and aux-in. Bluetooth dongle hides in the glovebox. New Polk DB461 speakers in the doors and a discrete Kenwood subwoofer under the driver’s seat. Sounds very nice!

Excellent support from clubs in the UK and stateside. Many mechanical/electrical parts are off-the-shelf for late 80s Nissan Micra. (NAPA 1394 oil filter, for example). Body and trim bits are easily sourced from Japan or the UK but may take a while to arrive.

Leather seats are in fair shape with some cracks and tears (more on driver’s side). There is a small backseat that works best as a grocery shelf. Upper “boot” holds the top when down; lower “boot” contains the spare tire and has room to squish some soft luggage. No electric gremlins! Power windows work well. Power antenna. After-market power locks with keyfob. Also an aftermarket immobilizer fitted in the UK. Cold AC and hot heat.

Odometer/speedometer was converted from kilometers to miles with a mechanical reducer around 40000 so actual mileage is a bit lower than the ~72000 indicated. Speedometer now reads in MPH. Tach, temp, and gas gauges all work correctly.

Paint is in original Lapis Gray with white top. A few dings and chips here and there. Rust on inner rockers and rear sills will need attention before any respray. Not a show car by any means but still presents very well!

This is not a car for introverts! Gets a lot of looks, smiles, comments, and thumbs-up from across the whole swath of humanity. Mileage is about 72000 and will go up in proportion to good weather!

Title is free and clear in my name. Car was imported legally. Some assorted service records, receipts, and inspection reports from the UK.

I find myself missing a manual transmission and cannot justify TWO convertibles in the backyard so am letting this one go to make room for a Miata. Price reflects condition and, I think, is fair. I will entertain reasonable offers. Payment with cash, PayPal, or wire transfer.”

Do you have a Nissan Figaro story you’d like to share?  Comment below and let us know!


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