In 2008, My wife Dorothee and I spent several weeks in the U.K., primarily to attend the Goodwood Festival of Speed
While driving through Great Britain and Scotland, we spied an unusual little car on several occasions, one that we couldn’t identify. After some further research, we learned this car was a Nissan Figaro.. built only in 1991, and never imported to the US. In fact, the Figaro was built in very limited numbers (20,000 total) and intended primarily for the Japanese market. But over the years, well over 4,000 of these right hand cars found their way to England, thanks to a less restrictive import bureaucracy than we have in the US.
During our stay, we managed to find a Figaro for sale at a used car lot in the same village we were staying (Chichester), and so we had an opportunity to inspect the vehicle up close, and to take a drive as well. We immediately fell in love, and wanted one for ourselves. Sadly, our US government, determined to protect us all from ourselves, dictates that no car not officially sanctioned for US sale may be imported into the country unless it is as least 25 years old.
The Figaro is quite a unique car. It was introduced as a boutique model, and initially only a total of 10,000 vehicles were built. However, demand for the iconic car was so strong that the manufacturer had to resort to a lottery system for buyers, and ultimately agreed to produce an additional 10,000, for a total of 20,000 cars.
As mentioned, the car was sold mostly in Japan, with some 4,000 or so making their way to the UK via the grey market. A very active owner group exists in the UK, including a website with a wealth of information about the car: www.figaroownersclub.com
The Figaro featured a diminuitive 1,000CC engine with power enhanced by turbocharger. There were few options, as all the cars came with electric windows, air conditioning, automatic transmission, all leather interior, and fold-back center roof similar to the newer Fiat 500’s.
We have been waiting patiently for some 8 years for the Figaro to become import-legal. That year was 2016, and so it was that in June 2016 we traveled to England to take ownership of our very own Figaro, one we had contracted with a well-known Figaro shop to complete a full restoration. For our “Figgy” we chose the stock color of Topaz Mist, one of just 4 colors offered for the model, and, at just 2,000 vehicles built in that color, the most rare.
While in England we attended the Figaro Owners Club 25th Anniversary get together at a nice old castle called “Wroxall Abbey”, where some 250 Figaros were in attendance.
There are now a small number of Figaros in the US, and further details of the car can be found on the US club website: www.FigaroClub.org
A short video of our trip to retrieve our Figaro is below: