When I first saw my dream car, I had no idea what it was

Courtesy Keith Evans

On a trip back home to the U.K. in the early 2000s, I saw this cool, quirky retro car passing by. “What on earth is that?” I asked my sister, who had no idea. But I was smitten, and I went on a mission to find out what this mysterious car was.

I soon discovered it was a Nissan Figaro, and I had to have one. Of course, the Figaro was never sold in the U.S., but cars older than 25 years can now legally be imported, so no problem, I thought.

Wrong! California has the most restrictive emissions regulations in the country, and just because a vehicle is federally legal doesn’t make it so here. Instead, in addition to meeting the 25-year requirement, an imported car must be certified compliant by the California DMV.

In the case of the Figaro, this means modifying the fuel and emissions systems and being inspected by the State Referee—and there’s only one shop in the state certified to do the work. As a result, it takes months and costs a bunch. I was unwilling to endure this bureaucratic process, so I began looking for the rare Figs that were already registered in California.

NIssan Figaro owner Keith Evans
Courtesy Keith Evans

Earlier this year, someone posted an ad in one of the Figaro Facebook groups for a legal Fig for sale at a reasonable price in Southern California. I wasted no time and called. It was still available, although offers had already been made. I hung up, cogitated for 10 minutes, then called back and offered full asking, which was accepted.

I arranged with the seller to have the Figaro transported to my home, and a few days later, it arrived. I was so thrilled—there’s just nothing like this car! All the stories about the smiles and the joy it brings to all who see it are true. I have other classic cars, but the Figaro gets more attention than any of them. The Figaro Club and the online community are great, too. Viva Figaro!

This article first appeared in Hagerty Drivers Club magazine. Click here to subscribe and join the club.

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