The Nissan Figaro is somewhat of a cult figure in the automotive space. For those who haven’t heard of it, it is a little throwback-styled Nissan convertible that was sold in Japan for just the 1991 model year. Despite its adorable nature, I’m not a fan, so I was surprised when I encountered one special enough to write about. A gentleman in Japan threw a Honda S2000 engine under a Figaro’s hood, added inboard coilover suspension, and prepped it for heavy track usage, and it’s just epic.
That’s correct, owner Yamamoto Katsuya of R.F.Y. engineered and built an S2000-powered Figaro and it looks awesome. The S2000 engine (also known as the F20C) sits way far back to improve weight distribution and, well, that’s probably the only way it could be done. According to TokyoAutoSalon.jp, it produces a hearty 246 horsepower at 8,300 rpm and 160 pound-feet of torque at 7,500 rpm. These numbers seem close to a factory S2000’s, so I bet his mentality was to keep it relatively stock for the sake of reliability.
The rest is just bonkers: 245-width track tires, lots of neat aerodynamic work to cover up the Figaro’s otherwise ghastly looks, a massive rear wing, big front splitter, the works. Thankfully, Katsuya’s Facebook page is currently public, and there’s a bunch of coverage of it, like this sweet video clip:
This thing seems like an absolute riot to drive, and this clip is the Figaro being driven fairly lightly while they test and tune.
He discusses why he went with certain parts choices on his Facebook page. Usually, when big power is added to a short-wheelbase car, bigger wheels are fitted for wider tires and bigger brakes. However, there was no chance a 17-inch wheel was fitting under the Figaro’s arches, so he went with wide 15-inch wheels, which should still be enough considering it weighs nearly nothing, and massive 245-width tires are fairly common. Upon further investigation, it looks like he has a lot of experience tuning Honda S2000s and NSXs, so it’s really neat that he applied all that knowledge to this brilliant little Figaro.
He even won an award in the Tuning Category at this year’s Tokyo Auto Salon, which is certainly well-deserved. The build is thoroughly documented on this site, too, so definitely check it out.
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