Aaron Widmar
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Before Retro Was in Fashion: An Exaltation of the 1991 Nissan Figaro

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1991 Nissan Figaro retro compact car rare classic car convertible spotlight pictures (3)

Everyone has a classic car style they love. While most American gearheads drool over bombastic muscle cars and hot rods, some prefer the simple elegance of European compact cars. In the early 1990s, when most automobiles were squarest and ugliest, Nissan decided that it was time to remind consumers of how beautiful cars once were.

Intentionally retro—and proud of it—the 1991 Nissan Figaro was a one-of-a-kind labor of love that defied contemporary automotive design conventions and hearkened back to classic European compact sports convertibles.

1991 Nissan Figaro retro compact car rare classic car convertible spotlight pictures (6)

Revisiting the Figaro: The Most Fun You’ll Have in a Nissan

Utilizing a steel monocoque construction and grounded on the Nissan Micra platform, the Figaro was a single-year attempt to change consumer perception about the brand. The crowning achievement of Japanese designer Naoki Sakai, the Figaro bears noticeable influence from Renaults, Fiats, MINIs, and Citroëns of yesteryear.

Initially, 8,000 Figaros were produced, but their popularity led to such high demands that a1991 Nissan Figaro retro compact car rare classic car convertible spotlight pictures (5)nother 12,000 were made. Still not enough to go around, hopeful buyers were entered into a lottery, where random winners were drawn to have the honor of taking a Figaro home.

Powered by an in-line three-cylinder engine that earned 76 horsepower and 78 lb-ft torque, the 1991 Figaro earned an average of 32 mpg paired to its three-speed automatic transmission.

Inside, the right-hand drive city car blends old-fashioned leather upholstery, chrome gauge displays, and switched controls with cutting-edge features (e.g. a CD player and electric windows) and performance. As a convertible, it possesses a retractable fabric top.

The Figaro was offered in only four body colors, each water-repellent fluoroplastic paint representing a different season: Emerald Green (spring), Pale Aqua (summer), Topaz Mist (autumn), and Lapis Grey (winter). Adding to its quirkiness, the Figaro gets its name from the comedic literature, specifically Beaumarchais’ The Marriage of Figaro (talk about a throw-back!).

If you have the luck of seeing a Figaro at a classic car show in your neighborhood, don’t miss the chance to take a closer look at the most peculiar and splendid gem of Nissan’s recent history.

Gallery of the 1991 Nissan Figaro