The Figaro: Everyone Knew Her As ‘Nancy’

The New York Times: “The tiny Nissan Figaro has an almost cartoonish design that is guaranteed to stand out. To an American living in Britain, who regularly spots pristine Figaros, it would appear to be a highly popular model that was made recently. Every part of that guess is wrong: The Figaro is rather old, built for the 1991 model year, and there never were large numbers anywhere. Nissan never even exported it from Japan.”

“Britain never had dominant carmakers like Ford, General Motors and Chrysler. Instead, for generations, it had a profusion of small-to-medium manufacturers. Those carmakers produced a much wider array of designs than their American counterparts, a good number of them quirky, small, underpowered, none too practical — and beloved by their many admirers … An increasingly competitive and global market had less room for eccentric cars, British or not, or for models that sell only a few thousand.”

“Owners join Figaro clubs and Facebook groups, give their cars names, often buy more than one per family, and sometimes pay over 10,000 pounds, or $12,500 — more than the car cost new … It has an unusual ‘fixed profile’ convertible roof — the middle folds down, but the sides stay put … Nissan built the Figaro in pale shades of aqua, green, gray and taupe … More than 3,000 of the cars are registered as being in active use in Britain, but numbers are no longer rising, and the pipeline has slowed to a trickle. ‘There’s only so many, and they’ve been around awhile,’ said Peter Pattemore, who drives a Figaro (named Jimmy), as does his wife, Sandra (hers is Sally). ‘But we’re going to keep them as long we can’.”

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