It's SoCal month here on Speedhunters, and while there is a wealth awesome car stuff to be seen around LA, it can be a bit hard to access since I am in Japan right now. That's no problem though, because the SoCal influence can be seen on cars all over the world, and especially here in Japan. I have been researching some of the US-inspired custom cars in Japan and I came across a really unique build that I thought was worth a closer look. The majority of the cars that I have featured here are commonly seen models, this one surely is not. Before I get into the details of the build, I should probably give a little background info on the Nissan PAO.
You might think the retro boom started in the late '90s with cars like the VW New Beetle, but Nissan actually introduced a few retro-styled cars ten years before that with the Nissan Figaro and PAO. The car combined Japanese compact car reliability and practicality with retro European-inspired styling both inside and out. Now in 2008, a lot late '80s cars can look pretty dated, but the PAO still looks very chic and stylish when I see them driving around here in Japan.
Even in stock form, the PAO's retro styling makes it an eye catcher, but the owner of this particular car has made taken an already rare car and over the course of many years, transformed it into a one-off custom machine that still stays true to its retro roots.
The first thing you probably notice after the PAO's classic styling is the stance on this car. After using various coilover sets over the years, the owner switched to a custom air suspension kit that allows for plenty of "slammage" while retaining drivability. There are no crazy body modifications, but there have been some subtle additions including a set of EMPI chrome headlight visors which were originally designed for a VW type 1 Beetle.
Of particular note are the wheels on this car. Although they look a little similar to the American Racing Torque Thrust, they are actually a Work wheel called the "Goocars Hemi" sized 17"x7J with an offset of +38. The tires are from Nankang in the rare size of 165/40/17 which gives them quite a nice stretch when mounted to these wheels. At the time the tires were purchased, no Japanese brands were offering up 17" tires in this size. The front brakes were also swapped out with ones that were sourced from a Nisan Pulsar GTi-R.
From the factory, the interior of the PAO has plenty of retro features,but on this car has been customized even further. The list of modifications include custom finsished front seats with from a Nissan Figaro with body color stitching and an old school Saddleman seat cover in the rear. The octagon steering wheel is from Mooneyes and you can also see that the screen for the navigation system has been painted to match the dash.
Although the main purpose of this car is obviously not racing, the stock PAO engine has been replaced with an engine from the K10 Nissan March Super Turbo. This 930cc engine is quite impressive as it's both turbocharged AND supercharged from the factory. Stock power output for this engine is 110ps, and in this case it has been pushed even further with a custom ECU tune and electronic boost controller. To properly accommodate the top-mount intercooler from the March engine, a custom air duct was outfitted to the PAO's hood.
Out back you can see the custom dual exhaust system and the the rear fenders which have been modified to fit the larger wheels. While a 17"x7 might not seem too aggressive in a standard sense, you have to remember how tiny the standard wheels and tires are on the PAO. The rear lenses have also been outfitted with LED lights for a more modern look.
In the end, you have a car that brings a great mix of uniqueness without being too over the top. Even in Japan where high quality custom car builds are all over the place, this car still manages to stand out with its combination of a unique platform and tasteful modifications.
For tons of details on the car and its history, check out the owner's site at http://www.kustom-pao.com .