While we’ve seen the Europeans do retro two-doors nicely and the Americans sometimes not so nicely, today we head across the Pacific to Japan to experience the weirdness of their retro creations. Enter Nissan’s Pike Factory, in truth, nothing more than a set of special edition Micras, but still representing “the height of postmodernism...[in an] unabashedly retro [package], promiscuously combining elements of the Citroën 2CV, Renault 4, Mini [and] Fiat 500” (New York Times). Keeping in mind the campy and somewhat kitschy nature of these Micras, which of them would you choose as your clown-mobile back in the States? Here are the options:

The first contestant: 1987 Nissan BE-1 - ¥398,000 ($3,472)

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Of the set of Pike cars, the BE-1 was decidedly the least retro. Nothing too flashy or cheeky here, just a simple tub with some fashionable side moulding and solid colored lamp lenses. The story continues in the interior with a relatively drab design based on the color scheme of a panda. The 51 hp carbureted 1.0L I4 linked to a three-speed auto means that the car doesn’t just look retro but drives like it too, but it’s in good condition considering there are only 79K kms (49K mi) on its chassis. So what do you think? Is this a nice alternative to a BMW Mini for you, or is its design not outlandish enough?

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The second contestant: 1989 Nissan Pao - ¥400,000 ($3,489)

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Next up is the Pao; whereas the BE-1 mimicked the original Mini and had a trunk, the Pao is a true hatchback with a clamshell opening, much like a Land Rover’s split tailgate. Moreover, Paos offered corrugated sheetmetal and a canvas roof as a sort of combination of the Citroen HY Van and the 2CV. The yellow fogs on this one complete the French look, and the cream interior is a bit less drab than the BE-1's, though it looks a little worse for the wear. Same powertrain but 100 more pounds and a total 119K kms (73K mi). Do you prefer its looks over the BE-1 or are turned off by its wear and tear?

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The third contestant: 1991 Nissan Figaro - ¥442,000 ($3,856) 

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The most well-known and the least practical, the Figaro was the one coupe offered in the Pike line-up and, although looked it like a convertible, it really just had a roof-rail system like the C3 Pluriel (I wonder where Citroen got their idea from...) Anyways, this one is nice in its classically pastel colors and has a sports hood (!) as with the rest. Same carbureted 4 and 3-speed, but 200 lbs more than the Pao and with 99K kms (61K mi) here. Does the style win you over, or is it just an ugly little fig in your eyes?

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