Japanese items and collectables have always been desired by the western world. Whether its ancient art or retro games machines to the latest Casio G Shock watch. It isn’t any different with their cars. They have a huge motoring history and a rich heritage in motorsport and design. Many of your favourite European cars have to thank Japanese designers for some ideas.


Don’t park in the lines- be a rebel!

The Nissan Pao is no different. With its cute curves, bright colours and simple designs the car appeals to so many. Including a few custom car builders. Designed and built by Pikes Factory Specials the car is and isn’t a mainstream mass-produced car.

The lowly and boxy Nissan Micra K10 was drafted to be the donor platform for the Pikes Factory specials, and the Pao was its first radical makeover. Premiering at the Tokyo show in 1987, the Pao is a rolling pastiche of retro cues gathered and rearranged from around the globe: mostly original mini, but also pieces of 2CV, Beetle, Mehari, mini-moke, and Austin 1100. It was followed shortly by the much less creative Be-1, and then by the brilliant little Figaro.  The goofy S-Cargo rounded out the Pikes family, before the Nissan fun-mobile exercise petered out.

The Pao’s production was purposely limited to 10k units for the Japanese domestic market only, and interested parties had to submit a reservation from January 15 through April 14, 1989; orders were served according to their date of placing. The new fashion darling sold out in three months and is still sought after. But the question as to whether the Pao is a worthy work of art or a flash in the pop-pan is as questionable as Wikipedia’s reliability. It claims that the Pao is on permanent display in the Museum of Modern Art in New York along with those other timeless automotive masterworks residing there: the 1946 Cisitalia 202 GT, a Willys Jeep, a ’59 Beetle and a ’63 XKE. But a search of MoMA’s press releases on the subject of Pao draws a big zero. Has anybody in NY seen it there?


With fold down windows, ribbed bodywork and chrome effect parts this car is uber-retro.

This custom Pao belongs to a chap called Masataka Hiramatsu from Osaka, Japan. He’s a 37-year-old car nut. He purchased the little Pao about 3 years ago and set about modifying it to what you see today. So how has he done it?

Since buying the car from a used car dealership in his hometown he has spent about £3500 on it. The biggest change to the car is the suspension. With the help of Accuair Japan he has fitted an Accuair elevel system with one-off air bags. This allows the car to squat about 15cm lower than standard and hug the Enkei 92 wheels, (15”x7 +38), wrapped in Pirelli Dragon rubber, (165/45). When on the floor the car is transformed into something entirely different. Gone is the funky retro car and a car straight from a Manga universe is born. The best part is because of the large coach built panels on the car no bodywork was altered on the vehicle.

This car looks unbelievably cool sat on the floor with the help from Accuair.

The paint is still the original Nissan Aqua Grey and due to its iconic status why would you want to change this! Inside the interior of the car is stark and empty from the factory with just some accessories making it different. The Accuair control panel is at easy reach and the steering wheel is changed to a Grip Royal Trickle wheel for a better feel on the road.

The engine is a tiny 987cc lump, which was also used in the Nissan Micra from the time. It’s not quick but if you’re expecting a quick car then you’re looking at this all wrong!

The car is perfect for turning heads, looking cool and being different at shows. Masataka has some awards to his name and often is seen mixing it up with the trendsetters in the Japanese car scene, and we all know hoe crazy those guys are!

These cars can be imported into the U.K. fairly easily so maybe we’ll be seeing more of them in the future.