Small And Round and Brown – Like A Japanese Consumer Law


Well, make that round and baby-poo brown, to be exact. And small and devoid of all pretension . We present the Nissan Be-1…

It is the answer to a question that is not often asked here in Western Australia – how to have a tiny car that only lasts two years and avoids road tax. The Japanese are the people who must necessarily deal with this and this is one of the ways that they cope.

As an aside, I have often asked why the Japanese run a system of road tax that punishes people for retaining cars past a certain date – and punishes them so severely with a financial burden that they comply by buying fresh cars every two years. I’ve been told that it is to prevent pollution, to make less traffic on the roads, and to make for greater safety – and I think this is a crock of sushi…t…

If a small car is well-built…and I can assure you Japanese small cars are well-built…it can last for 12-15 years. It pours out minimal pollution and this does not rise exponentially as the engine ages. The upholstery, body, and paint scheme do not emit pollution. Engines can be reconditioned and/or replaced and there you are – starting fresh again.


The number of cars on Japanese roads will be the same whether they are 1 year old or 10 years old. The roads dictate that number. And the other laws that prohibit ownership if you cannot provide adequate parking storage mean the same for a new car as for an old one.

And as far as safety, there are no new safety measures that occur annually – the cars that were adequate to travel earlier are adequate now – with the added advantage that the owner is going to be more familiar with the operation of the old vehicle than the new. Unless – of course, the new one operates the same way as the old one and then where is the improvement that was trumpeted…?

Okay, legal rant over, the Japanese do very nice very small cars – again to dodge petrol usage and road tax. This is one of the series Nissan did in the 1980’s that included such delights as the S-Cargo. This one has no chrome anywhere, body-colour wheels, sensible rubber bumpers, and a smooth aerodynamic shape.


It has a 987 cc engine to dodge tax, 3 speed auto transmission, seats 5 Japanese, 2 Australians, or 1 Samoan, and has an amazing amount of interior room. It came in white, yellow*, red, or blue and used very little fuel.

If they sold it today, I would buy one new.

Note about the Japanese car-change laws. I suspect that the major car manufacturers made sure the Diet passed them to ensure a busy domestic market. The only good effect of this is the availability of Japanese used cars for export. They are probably good value, as the owners in Japan are pretty frugal people who take care of their goods – until they are wrenched from them by the tax officials.

  • Apparently this car at Whiteman Park is Pumpkin Yellow. I think the pumpkin passed through the baby first.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close