A retro-styled three-door hatchback, the Nissan Pao is a short-lived JDM car with a lot of history.
Nissan is one of the most diverse car companies in recent memory. The company has cars to suit all purposes, they have SUVs for people who have a lot to carry, and the company also has trucks that can stand up to some of the best, even if they are not as successful. They have pretty much every section of the car market covered, even the adorable.
Enter the Nissan Pao. This little car was produced for the 1989 through 1991 model years. It’s a retro-styled three-door hatchback that was originally called the Nissan Cherry Stores for the Japanese market, and people had to be on a list to even purchase one.
The car was first announced in 1987 at the Tokyo Motor Show. Buyers could pick between having a sunroof or not for their Nissan Pao. It should also be noted that this was one of Nissan’s Pike cars. The name came from the factory where they were built, the other Pike cars were the Nissan Figaro, the Be-1, and the S-Cargo.
People loved this option from Nissan because it provided something different for drivers who were tired of the cars of the time, many of which lacked the character that ones like this one brought. In speaking of the Pao, Phil Patton, a New York Times design critic, called the car “the height of postmodernism”. Most modern fans of the car find it interesting that it came in the 80s.
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The Nissan Pao is a short-lived option with a lot of history. It’s one that many people have seen in recent media, but without knowing a great deal about it. Because of that, here is a detailed look at the 1991 Nissan Pao.
Overall Specs Of This Adorable Vintage JDM Ride
As with a car of this size, most of us can probably guess that it’s not superfast or powerful. However, it’s still designed to be a fun car to drive. This vintage JDM car is powered by a water-cooled 1-liter 988 cc inline-4 engine, according to car.info. In terms of power, it has a max of 52 horsepower at 3000 rpm and a torque of 75 at 3600rpm. This front-wheel-drive car was paired with either a 3-speed automatic or 5-speed manual transmission.
For performance, the Nissan Pao has a top speed of 87 miles per hour. According to automobile-catalog.com, the Nissan Pao can accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 18.5 seconds. It can go a quarter-mile in 21.3 seconds. These speeds are not phenomenal, but that was never the intention of the Pao. Nissan wanted to make a fun little car that was meant for people who were a bit outside the box when it comes to their driving needs. Certainly, if not anything else, people look when a car like this drives by simply because it’s super adorable.
As you may have also guessed, this car has great fuel economy. Most report that it gets 51 miles per gallon in the city and an impressive 79 on the highway. This means that if you’re looking for an older car with impeccable gas mileage, this may be one of your best options.
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Cost Of The Pao Today
According to the website Carsfromjapan.com, the average price of the Nissan Pao ranges from $4,000 to $13,000. There were over 30,000 units of the car produced, which means there is a decent number of options for potential buyers to find. As with any used car, the price depends on the condition as well as any upgrades made by the current owner.
For example, we found one 1990 option listed for over $24,000 with a reported 3,598.4 miles on the odometer. On the other hand, there was another 1990 option with over 250,000 miles for just over $6,000. While these are not the worst prices for a used car, some people may find them a bit daunting for a vehicle that isn’t fast, powerful, or spacious. What this shows is that even on the used car market, the Nissan Pao is still a niche car.
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Nissan is known for producing cars that reach practically every corner of the car market, which is a big part of the success of any car company. However, with the Pao, the company designed something for a niche market that was sure to turn heads for one reason or another. The result was an incredibly cute car that was intended for general driving and not very much more. The Pao can seat up to 4 people, it was fast enough for its purpose, and it truly left a mark on the car community.
Now, all these years later, some people wish Nissan would bring the car back. Truly, it would fit right in with some new and experimental small cars on the market, while also potentially bringing Nissan back to the forefront of people’s minds. All in all, the Pao was a success for Nissan and provided a great deal of character for the streets.
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Barnell Anderson is a writer from Louisiana, USA with a real passion for cars and motorcycles. His biggest areas of expertise are car history and concept cars. Barnell's favorite car is the Ford Mustang. He also wants to one day own a Tesla!