QotW: What “Class of 1989” car would you import?

Nissan Pao

It may seem like we just asked this question, but just because a car is the greatest graduate from the Class of 1989 doesn’t mean you want to own it. The doors have opened onto a whole new era of once-forbidden Japanese machinery now that 1989 is no longer under America’s ban on foreign cars younger than 25 years.

What “Class of 1989” car would you import?

Before the PT Cruiser, the New Beetle, or the neo-Mustang/Camaro/Challenger, there was the Nissan Pao. Along with its siblings the Figaro, Be-1 and S-Cargo, it was retro before retro was a thing. Built off a K10 March platform, the Pao embodied the cars one would’ve seen on post-war Japanese roads. Nothing fancy, just the basics — exposed hinges, sliding rear windows, and painted interior surfaces. Yeah, sure, it’s front-wheel-drive and has only a 1.0-liter four-cylinder for power, but it’s so darn cute. Besides, not all of us want our own Godzillas.

What say you, dear reader? As always, the most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a toy. Click through to see the winner of the last QotW, “What’s your 2014 automotive resolution?”


Our favorite comment of the week was an open-minded take by Nihontekko. Hondas do often get a bad rap, and it’s nice to see someone make a concerted effort to look past the stereotypes:

My automotive resolution is going to take some time to appreciate Honda. In my area, there are a lot of “ricers” in poorly modified, and well modified, Hondas of all models and vintages. I’ve never wanted to be associated with that crowd, so I shied away from owning any Honda, period, and through the years I’ve cultivated a stigma against the company solely on the image of “fart-can” racers I see all too commonly. My attitude has cut me out of the loop for way too long, so for 2014, I’m going to change that and really learn about and appreciate what Honda’s built over the years. Hell, I might even take the plunge and buy a Civic just to see what it’s all about.

2014 – Nihonnotekko’s Year of the Honda

Omedetou, your comment has earned you a set of decals from the JNC Shop!

JNC Decal smash

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8 Responses to QotW: What “Class of 1989” car would you import?

  1. daruma3gakoronda says:


    Expecting a flood of R32s, but how about this for a twist?

    Rocky Auto KenMeri bodied R32.

    Rocky Auto takes a R32 GTR, rips off the body panels, slaps on KenMeri styled body panels (larger to account for the larger R32 frame) and you have a retro looking but modern Skyline! Best of both worlds! Rack & Pinion, multilink suspension! You can have your cake and eat it too!

    You can also have AWD, AT etc., if you like. 😀

  2. Ryan Senensky says:

    Nissan Figaro because im really big Whovian and Sarah Jane (4th doctor’s companion) had one when she had her spinoff show the Sarah Jane Chronicles.

  3. Stj says:

    X81 Chaser or Mark II all the way! Now people in the state’s can stop trying to make a Cressida look good! They were never intended to look good or to be sporty, they were the old man’s alternative to the sporty hardtop sedans that the X81 Chaser and Mark II were!

  4. Dave says:

    Pao is one of my favorite Nissans ever!!! In fact, I adore and covet all of the Pike Factory cars. They’re all so awesome and well-designed, I want to collect them all.

    This week’s question is just way too hard. There’re tons of cars in that ~1989 period that I’d love to own and drive. I’ll just throw down the 20-series Toyota Soarer for giggles. I’ve always loved the Z20 Soarers. Sleek, boxy, handsome, high-tech, plus they had the fabulous Toyota straight-6s, they’re perfect embodiment of the Japanese grand tourer. They’ve always more-or-less been the luxury GT version of the Supra.

    Problem is, these aren’t really “class of 1989” since this generation came out in ’86. ’89 is actually near the end of its lifecycle, before being replaced by the gorgeous 30-series (original Lexus SC). I guess I’ll say specifically the Aerocabin version of the Soarer, which appeared in the middle of ’89. Think of a BMW Baur *convertible* but having a folding metal instead of canvas top. Before the current folding hardtop craze, Toyota already tried it w/ the Aerocabin. The packaging is ingenious, but sadly it still had to be cut down to a 2-seater. Nevertheless, it’s super cool and perhaps the ultimate 2nd-gen Soarer. It’s also quite rare, w/ only 500 produced in ’89, all were powered by the top-spec 7M turbo engine. This is quite a creative version of a very cool and special car, totally worth importing.

  5. pstar says:

    Series 5 Savanna Turbo. Seems like they’ve gone totally extinct in North America in the last 10 years.

    Speaking of which, I would really appreciate if you, Ben, or one of your colleagues could make a post that outlines the import procedure, the steps, the typical costs associated with each part of the process, and all that.

    Hell, go all in and actually do it and document the whole thing for us. Bring that goofy Pao (lol, is Portugeuse for “bread”) over!

  6. Jim-Bob says:

    I’d probably go for (one of) the Pao’s sister cars, the S-Cargo. It was an homage to the Citroen 2CV (as the Pao was an homage to the Renault 4, if memory serves) and is a cargo van shaped like a snail. Plus, the French eat snails (escargot), so the name works on multiple levels. Then again, I’d love any of the retro cars Nissan built off the Micra chassis too ( the others are the Be-1 and Figaro) as all of them have a fun sense of style in a car with a 1 liter engine.

  7. XRaider927 says:

    Nissan Fairlady Z Z32(300ZX)……

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