Rare Rides: The 1987 Nissan Be-1 - a Little Retro Ride

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides the 1987 nissan be 1 a little retro ride

Today’s Rare Ride is a Nissan Be-1 from 1987. As the first of four Pike cars, it set the stage for the upcoming Pike cars and commanded immediate attention from consumers. Come along as we check out this [s]hatchback[/s] cheerful economy car.

We’ve seen one of the Be-1’s brethren previously — when we learned about the industrial chic styling of the Pao. Looking like a hatchback from the Fifties, the Pao’s styling threw lots of details from various classic vehicles onto one small hatchback body.

Such was the point of Nissan’s Pike cars, conceived as a way of playing with retro car design on modern car bones. The previously featured Pao and the Be-1 were “hatchbacks,” while the Figaro and S-Cargo Pike cars took on convertible and utility van shapes, respectively. All Pike vehicles were based upon the contemporary Nissan Micra, so Nissan’s budget for the project went into the new bodies and reworking the interiors to be suitably retro and stylish.

The Be-1 was the first Pike car to hit the market upon its introduction in 1987. It’s the only car of the four to have its basis in the first-generation Micra, first sold in Japan in 1983. All Be-1 examples received a 1-liter inline-four, mated to a five-speed manual or a three-speed automatic. The tiny mill managed 51 horsepower and matched the Pao in engine and transmission specifications.

Like the Pao, the Be-1 was not marketed as a Nissan, but rather “Be-1,” as was visible on all badging. The unique marketing worked, and Nissan found itself with orders than it could fill. The company planned to make just 10,000 examples of the Be-1, so a lottery system was introduced to determine the select group of buyers.

Four different colors greeted buyers: today’s Pumpkin Yellow, Hydrangea Blue, Onion White, and Tomato Red. Specifications did not vary much, and aside from the paint color there were two options: The standard tin roof could be swapped for a canvas open-top version, and both roofs were available with either manual or automatic transmission. Unlike the Pao’s cutesy Sixties styling, the Be-1 seems to go more for a late Seventies aesthetic with its flush front and rear lamps and serious interior. And though it’s tempting to call this a hatchback, the enclosed cargo area and fixed rear glass may well mean we’re looking at an (oddly proportioned) two-door sedan.

Either way, this Pumpkin Yellow beauty is for sale on Miami Craigslist with 72,000 miles on the clock. It asks $8,000.

[Images: seller]

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2 of 9 comments
  • Jatz Jatz on Jan 21, 2019

    Get. In. My. BELLAY!

  • -Nate -Nate on Jan 24, 2019

    I like it, I'd love to see this in the tomato red . RHD vehicles are O.K., the shifting is moot, forget about that, the left turns and trying to safely pull out to pass can be white knuckle experiences . -Nate

  • Redapple2 C2 is the best. C3 next. Then C7 (looking at you jimII).
  • Jeff S Vulpine--True the CAFE rules are for ICE.
  • Gray I grew up in the era of Panther and Fox platforms. If only they developed a good looking two door Conti. The four doors became a cult in their own right. And kept the 351W as a top line option.
  • Vulpine ABSOLUTELY YES!!! Bring back the TRUE compact trucks. The demand for them is far higher than the OEMs want to admit.
  • Brn More likely, with Google having troubles, the money tree isn't as ripe as it once was and cutbacks are needed.I hope the overall industry continues to evolve. When I get the the point I can't easily drive, I would still appreciate the independence that autonomous vehicles can bring.