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

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

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 hatchback 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]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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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

  • JOHN One is for sale on an ebay car donation site.https://www.ebay.com/itm/305579991767?itmmeta=01HYHVJ49MCC6HEWQY5AX9MX85&hash=item4725fca2d7:g:k9cAAOSw5V5mThFw
  • Scott So they are losing hundreds of millions of dollars and they are promising us a “Cheaper EV”? I wonder how that will look and feel? They killed the Fiesta because they claimed that they couldn’t make a profit on them and when I bought the first one in late 2010 they couldn’t deliver the accessories I wanted for it! Then I bought a 2016 Fiesta ST and again couldn’t get the accessories for it I wanted. They claimed that the components were going to be available, eventually. So they lost on that one as well! I don’t care about what they say anymore. I’ve moved on to another brand.
  • Michael S6 CX 70 or 90 will not be on my buying list. Drove a rental base CX 90 and it was noisy and the engine noise was not pleasant. Ride was rough for a family SUV. Mazda has to understand that what is good for Miata isn't what we expect in semi luxury SUV. My wife's 2012 Buick Enclave has much better Ride and noise level albeit at worse gas millage. Had difficulty pairing my phone with Apple CarPlay
  • Michael S6 What is the metric conversion between one million barrels and the number of votes he expects to buy.
  • NJRide This could give Infiniti dealers an extra product maybe make it a sub brand