Yesterday I was walking down a street in Yuen Long, Hong Kong when an obscure Range Rover-ish car came barreling my way. “What is this car?” I asked myself as it drove by, only to learn from the rear spare tire cover that the owner apparently has no clue either.
In reality, there’s a good chance the guy knows the make and model of his car, as that’s a fairly important bit of info to have when you’re trying to register or get insurance.
So really, that spare tire cover with “What is this car?” must mean this bastard is trolling the entire city of Hong Kong, taunting us and doubting our ability to identify the mysterious boxy machine.
I don’t know a bout y’all, but I for one will not be trolled, especially on the subject of cars. No sir. So, upon seeing this spare tire cover and realizing that my brain was completely devoid of any memory of such a vehicle’s existence (and arguably devoid of much more), I was determined to I.D. this little creature if it was the last damn thing I ever did.
So, after an hour of obsessive google searching while completely ignoring my brother—whom I see maybe once a year— during dinner, my mind descended into madness. I began asking questions like “Is this thing a kit car?” and “Maybe he put new front and rear fascias on it?... Is it chopped?”
The answer to all of these questions is, of course, “no.” This is a stock automobile, like most vehicles in Hong Kong (the local authorities aren’t too keen on people modifying their cars). I found this out after looking at the wheels and recognizing CV axles poking out of both the front and rear hubs. It’s all-wheel drive! I also remembered a Nismo sticker on the back glass. So the mystery machine was an all-wheel drive Nissan of sorts. Hmm.
(Warning: The answer to “What is this car?” lies just below this gorgeous interior shot)
After what seemed like a lifetime of Wikipedia-ing, I came upon this page and found the answer to my life’s most burning question. It’s a Nissan Rasheen! And, as my colleague Jason Torchinsky pointed out to me, the vehicle is awesome and weird enough to have the honor of being featured at the Lane Motor Museum.
Built from 1994 to 2000 and sold only in Japan, the Rasheen is basically what happens when a Nissan Sunny (or Sentra for us Yanks) gets turned into a cutesy off-roader. Lane Motor Museum talks about how the car came about:
As the popularity of Sport Utility Vehicles (or SUVs) grew in the 1990s, Nissan realized it needed a small four-wheel drive SUV to augment sales of its larger Nissan Patrol.
The Rasheen initially came with a 104-horsepower 1.5-liter GA15DE engine mated to a five-speed manual and a viscous coupling four-wheel drive system, a system that basically involves a fluid hardening as it shears due to differences in front and rear driveshaft speeds. The hard fluid then locks the shafts, engaging four-wheel drive.
The handsome Rasheen later got a bigger 1.8-liter 125-horsepower motor mated to a four-speed auto, and finally 143 horses of fury from theSR20DE 2.0-liter in the Rasheen Forza edition— a vehicle that I very much need in my life, despite only having just now learned of its existence.
So Mr. Hong Kong Troll, your trolling days are over. Jalopnik now has its very first post about the amazing and wonderful Nissan Rasheen. Now it’s only a matter of time before “Rasheen” becomes a household name, and your little spare tire tomfoolery loses its luster.