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.
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