I’ve always admired the Japanese car market’s unique ability to not take itself too seriously, and to be open to having actual, honest fun with their cars. One of the best ways to see how this manifests itself is in the thriving industry of aftermarket kits for Kei-class cars and vans to turn them into other, usually retro cars. They’re like costumes for cars, sort of, and I’ve written about them before. I just encountered a new (to me) company that does this, and I’m especially excited because they make a car-costume of a car I actually own.
The company is named, appealingly, Modest Cars, and what caught my eye is that they make a conversion kit for a Suzuki Alto to turn it into a pretty damn good facsimile of a Nissan Pao.
I first saw this thing on the Pao owner’s group Facebook page:
That’s a remarkably good Pao kit, really. Here, look at a side-by-side:
Considering the two cars aren’t related in any way, that’s a pretty decent resemblance. On their site, you can choose just how detailed and involved you want your car-costume to be:
It seems so strange to me that you can take a modern car and give it a body kit to make it look like a car from the late ‘80s/early ‘90s—that gap of time just seems too short for something like this, normally?
But, the Pao is a pretty distinctive and unique-looking car, so I really shouldn’t be surprised. And, if you think about it, what was the Pao really but a Micra dressed up in more interesting clothes?
The company also has the usual assortment of VW Microbus-style kits, Citroën H-van kits, and more generic Mini-like kits, too. But they also have one other very unexpected kit:
A UAZ 452? What other company makes a kit to turn your Daihatsu/Subaru Sambar into a replica of a Soviet-era (though still-made!) van? I love it. There’s also a good set of options for this kit:
These don’t seem to be cheap: the front clip is around $1,500, the rear a bit more, and if you did everything you’re likely looking at dropping about $6,000 or so. Still, you’d have a tiny UAZ with Japanese build quality after all that, so maybe worth it?
Sure, authenticity is fun, but it isn’t everything. Of course there’s a goofy, somewhat cheesy quality to these things, but you know what? I love cheese.