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Automakers get their inspiration from a variety of sources, and animals are often at the top of the list. From naming vehicles after animals to describing how powerful a car is, such as using terms such as ‘horsepower,’ it’s a common theme in the auto world. The animals used are often powerful or well known for their speed, however. Nissan got inspiration from a very odd animal when it designed the S-Cargo, however.

Nissan didn’t produce many S-Cargo models

In 1987, Nissan gave the world its first peak of the S-Cargo. It’s a tiny van with lots of rounded lines that make it clear the inspiration came from a snail. In fact, the name S-Cargo is derived from the French term “Escargot” which means snail. Believe it or not, the S-Cargo was based on the Nissan Sentra.

Like many unique vehicles, Nissan chose not to make many S-Cargo models. In total, there were only about 8,000 to be produced. It had a brief run from 1989 to 1992.

Road and Track reports the S-Cargo is part of the Pike line. These were four cars built at the Pike plant by Nissan. They include the S-Cargo, the Be-1, the Pao and the Figaro.

Each were tiny in appearance, and a huge hit on the Japanese market. Because the steering wheel is located on the right side, there were several models that made their way to Britain via import.

Even though it’s not a powerhouse, it was very popular in Asia and Europe, according to Lane Motor Museum. It’s often used as a work van thanks to the fact that it’s tall inside. It has a payload capacity of 660 lbs.

The Nissan S-Cargo didn’t hide what it was

Sometimes odd is just plain weird. At other times, it’s charming. In the case of the S-Cargo, it was the perfect mixture of both.

If Nissan had tried to make the S-Cargo into a larger vehicle, it wouldn’t have worked. Making it tiny gave it a sort of cute look that is rather appealing. Adding in the fact that it is a solid work vehicle just added to the draw.

It certainly isn’t a powerful vehicle by any stretch of the imagination. The S-Cargo comes with a 1.5 liter four-cylinder engine that is paired with a 3-speed automatic transmission.

Some models were equipped with an electric canvas sunroof that gives the S-Cargo an even more pointed snail look. It’s not built for speed, as evidenced by the fact that it can only go 80 mph.

There’s never been a vehicle like the S-Cargo

There have been plenty of odd vehicles over the years. Elvis Presley had a number of them in his personal car collection, like the Messerschmitt KR200. It’s similar to the S-Cargo, thanks in large part to the fact it’s so odd it’s cute, and it’s tiny size.

Other cars that walk a thin line between mainstream and incredibly ugly are the Pontiac Aztek, Stout Scarab, and the Reliant Robin. They’re so ugly they have a set of loyal fans who would love to own one of their own.

Even so, the S-Cargo remains unique in its body shape. It might bring to mind the much-beloved Mini brand, but the S-Cargo is totally unmistakable, and the only thing Nissan did wrong with it was not manufacturing more.

If you want one of your own, then you probably won’t find one at your local used car lot. They are now old enough to import, however, so you can buy one from Japan or Britain if you can locate one. Just make sure you’re not being scammed by someone taking advantage of people who want to buy classic cars.


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