Welcome to Cars of The Ku, a new weekend segment where I highlight a cool car I've found around where I live. Ku (区) is the Japanese word for "city ward." Today's car of the Ku is this mint green Nissan Pao.

The Pao is a truly delightful looking car from the late 1980s which intentionally models itself off the original Austin Mini, the Citroën 2CV, and the Austin A40 Farina.

The Pao was part of the "Pike" series usually credited to Sakai Naoki. The "Pikes" were vehicles meant to create obvious brand offerings which would make Nissan a stand-out company amongst the vast Japanese automotive landscape. The models for the idea of a "distinctive style" were successful design elements from Japanese electronics makers, like Panasonic and Sony.

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The Nissan Pao arrived at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1987. At that time, the original Austin Mini was quite popular in Japan. It still is. The Pao adopted the Mini's outside hinges, took panel styling cues from Citroën, and had a half-and-half rear hatch modeled on the Austin A40. It was meant not only to be retro, but to be playful, even cartoonish – and most importantly, to be immediately recognizable as a Nissan product by Japanese consumers.

The Pao came with either a three speed automatic transmission or a five speed manual transmission. This vehicle has the five speed, which is actually much, much rarer than the automatic version. As far as I can tell, my neighbor (this is only two buildings down from my own apartment) has kept this 25 year old vehicle in really great condition. It has some rust, but for the most part, it looks good.

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Photos credit Kat Callahan/Jalopnik.