Behold The Pre-Pao: Cold Start

Cs Paosketch

Nissan has announced that they have added a metric crapton of old press releases and photos to their newsroom archive, and it’s proving to be fantastic so far. As the proud owner of a 1990 Nissan Pao, I immediately started to scour the archive for interesting Pao stuff, and hot pickles did I find something good, which you can see above you. It’s a drawing for the concept version of the Pao, which was first shown in Tokyo in 1987. This seems to be a drawing from after the general design direction of the Pao was decided, but still relatively early in the process. It’s significantly and fascinatingly different from what the Pao became, which is why it’s so exciting.

Looking at it, you can get an idea of the rugged, almost militaristic look they wanted for the Pao, a novel mix of adventure, capability, toughness and yet, somehow, cuteness. This early drawing captures most of the basic lines and proportions of the Pao, but has significantly more aggressive off-road tires and lacks the Pao’s trade mark roof rails.

Some of the proportions are a bit different, as is the bumper design, the lack of an actual grille, and how the rear vent windows can open far wider here.

A somewhat later drawing is far closer to the production Pao:

Cs Paosketch2

With this drawing, we’re pretty much to the Pao shown at the auto show:

Cs Paoshowcar

Looking at all of these, I think the most significant change is the de-emphasis on the wheels, which makes the Pao look a bit less like a military vehicle and more like a plucky hatchback that’s up for a little adventure.

I kinda like the more butch Pao, though; a 4×4 version like that, perhaps scaled up a touch in size and power would be a really exciting thing. A Paower Pao.

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14 Responses

  1. Hey Jason, hope I’m not being offensive here – you’re head/tail light royalty, I know, your opinion matters the most here – but those front indicators look so much cooler integrated in a flat panel than in the final version. I still love the Pao, but that small detail in the concept is just much more appealing to me.

  2. I often wonder if any private owner ever decided to collect all four Pike Cars. Sometimes I daydream about that for my family: me and my wife would daily the Be-1 and Pao interchangeably, my daughter would drive the Figaro, and we’d have the S-cargo for moving stuff around – which we often do with our cars, a ’98 VW Polo and a ’91 Renault 4, so it’s not like the S-cargo would just be parked there. That would be a cool fleet.

  3. Every one of these that I’ve seen that someone customized has been slammed to the ground, so maybe seeing an off-road version of it could be great. It’s such a joy inducing car, I would think (almost) anything you did to one would look great.

    I do like the fog lights yours has; somehow they complete the face of this thing.

  4. Can’t you just put a set of All Terrain M/S tyres on the Pao?
    I had a set of used Coopers, that somebody had driven Paris-Dakar with once, on one of my VW Beetles. It went absolutely through everything, even though it was only 2WD. Same goes for a 2CV if you put rough tyres on them (but I never tried myself). Isn’t the Pao nose heavy (like my Figaro) so it provides a lot of grip, like a RWD Beetle?

    On the Vanagons people sometimes used some plastic blocks above the springs as a cheap and easy lift kit. Must be possible on other cars too?

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