By on January 21, 2019

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]

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9 Comments on “Rare Rides: The 1987 Nissan Be-1 – a Little Retro Ride...”

  • avatar

    Pretty cool little car. I like all the Pike cars. Would love one with a manual to make the best use of that 51 horsepower.

    • 0 avatar

      Had the same thought, but I don’t know about shifting with the left hand.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s not a problem. While in Nam our unit had a RHD Toyota grey Jeep-clone and none of us had difficulty with the shifting.

        But this little car reminds me of a Daihatsu that belonged to one of my Air Force buddies who was my room mate in the barracks.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m sure you would get used to it. It might be weird and/or difficult at first, but I’m sure one would get the hang of it.

        I’ve been told that the two main problems with driving a RHD vehicle in LhD country is that one, you can’t see around a vehicle to pass on a two lane (with 51 hp, I’m sure that situation wont come up very often) and two, your passengers will freak out the first few times they ride with you, as they’re sitting on the “drivers side”, meeting traffic head on with no control over the vehicle.

      • 0 avatar

        It requires no more dexterity (sinisterity) than working a manual-crank window.

        I drove a RHD Subaru for a few weeks in an urban area in the US. I can see passing on 2-lanes being sketchy, but on urban streets and highways, the only significant problem was tollbooths (manual windows didn’t help). Some time before that, I drove in the UK. Driving on the other side of the road was slightly strange, but the biggest learning curve was getting used to the bulk of the car being on the other side of me. Shifting wasn’t the least bit weird.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    One of our companies used an S-Cargo for short run, in city deliveries circa 2006-2010. It helped build some ‘buzz’ around our brand, as it was so distinct.

    Shifting with the left hand is learned quickly and easily. In the U.K. most rental vehicles were (are?) manuals and visitors adapt(ed).

    However making left hand turns in North America in a right-hand drive vehicle is a bit of a nightmare.

  • avatar

    Get. In. My. BELLAY!

  • avatar

    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 .


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