This May Be The Holy Grail Of Nissan Pao Accessories

Illustration for article titled This May Be The Holy Grail Of Nissan Pao Accessories
Photo: Attila Bethlenfalvy

Remember my fellow North Carolina Pao-owner friend Attila? I wrote about his photos of an amazing steering wheel before. He’s had a bit of mixed luck lately, with a tree branch shattering his Pao’s windshield on the bad side, but on the plus side, he’s also recently acquired an incredible and very obscure 348-page factory Pao dealer book and accessory catalog. It’s full of amazing stuff, including what I’d consider to be the Holy Grail of Pao accessories.

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Accessories for the Pike Factory cars were pretty varied and numerous, as you would expect for an odd little statement of a car like the Pao.

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Photo: Attila Bethlenfalvy
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My own Pao—and many I’ve seen, online and in person— came with a number of these, which makes me think that many were fairly common add-ons when buyers got their Paos.

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Photo: Attila Bethlenfalvy

One of these, though, stands out from the rest, as it answers a longstanding question I’ve had about the Paos, and feels very much an encapsulation of the strange mix of fun and utility that makes up the Pao’s personality.

It’s just called the Carrying Box. It looks like this:

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Photo: Attila Bethlenfalvy
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Now, most of you see that and think, hey, that’s a box, but of the boom variety, not the carrying variety. It’s a portable radio and tape deck, certainly not an uncommon thing in the late 1980s/early 1990s. So what’s so special about it, maybe other than the sort of odd design?

What’s special is that the radio/tape deck there that runs the show in the middle there is the head unit from the Pao itself. Looking at the standard Pao radio, two things always stood out: first, it has a big switch that reads OUTDOOR and INDOOR, a strange selection for a car radio, and also it looks like it should be removable.

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Photo: Jason Torchinsky

It sits in a little tray, it has two little pull handles on the front, and the whole thing can slide right out with two screws and unplugging some wires.

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But what then? You can take it out, flip the switch to OUTDOOR, but even if you do that, all you’re holding is a fun, retro-looking paperweight, or maybe an ersatz panini flattener. It has no internal power or speakers, so, as a radio or tape deck, it’s useless.

Enter the Carrying Box. It appears that the carrying box must have a slot for the radio, and in that slot must be connections for an internal 12V power supply and connections to the pair of speakers. So, you can park your Pao with your trunk full of salamis and cheese wheels and Mrs. Butterworth’s bottles filled with gin, whip out the head unit, pop it in this box and boom, you’ve got music outside the car.

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It’s charming yet faintly absurd (you could likely just get a normal self-contained boom box that takes up the same amount of space and works as well or better) but who cares, because the whole process is just fun and, again, charming as hell.

As you can imagine, I want one, bad, but a bit of searching has found me exactly zero of these things, and I bet if any even exist they’d be gut-clenchingly expensive.

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That said, this thing isn’t exactly rocket science! I’m pretty sure I could take an old toolbox and cut a hole in it, cram it full of eight D batteries connected in series to make 12V, add a couple speakers and the proper wiring and boom, homemade Carrying Box!

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Illustration: Jason Torchinsky
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Is this a project I’m likely to put off forever? Probably. But it’s absolutely do-able!

I just love that Nissan bothered to do this at all. That this fun, silly concept-car idea somehow actually made it into production. I really hope these were actually built, and I hope at least a few people bought them, and used them just like this, carefully sliding out the radio and shoving it in the box and popping in a tape and carrying it somewhere, setting it on a blanket as people cavort and ate and dry-humped and swam or croquet’d or whatever.

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I just like knowing it may have happened.

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus, 2020 Changli EV • Not-so-running: 1973 Reliant Scimitar, 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!)

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DISCUSSION

11civicsi
11civicsi (v2)

This is pretty neat little radio. On a somewhat related note, I thought of you yesterday when I saw this on Japanese Classics.

I was surprised I had never heard of the Nissan Rasheen before and figured other people might have the same thought. It was apparently made at the Pike factory like your Pao and the Figaro.

https://www.japaneseclassics.com/vehicle/1995-nissan-rasheen/