Well, we've made it: this is the 365th car featured on #bcotd. Tomorrow will mark the start of its second year. To celebrate, I thought I'd quickly introduce one of my favourite factory-built specials.
You just know a story on a weird car is good when it starts with a quote from the movie Mr. Baseball, starring Tom Selleck. His love interest is Hiroko Uchiyama, played by Aya Takanashi, who, during a business dinner, says: "Japan takes the best from all over the world and makes it Hers".
At the time, it seemed a bit too sweet, but the more I learn about Japan—especially its cars—the saying often rings true. The Autech A-10 is nothing more than an '60s Italian sedan reinterpreted by Nissan tuning arm Autech using parts from the corporate bin. Developed and shown in 1996, it remains a literal unicorn and one-of-one prototype.
Starting with the square Rasheen crossover—if you're not familiar with it, I'll give you a few to both familiarize yourself and contain your excitement. As soon as you realize that underneath that slab-sided shape was the chassis from the Nissan Silvia, you realize the 'Nostalgic Sports Sedan' was probably conceived between rounds at the local izakaya.
The A-10 is rear-drive, wears just enough Alfa Romeo (and Renault Gordini) styling cues to look convincing, and its breathed-on 180 horsepower 2.0-litre engine was controlled with five forward speeds—plus a limited-slip differential. Weight? Just 1,255 kg (2,766 lbs).
It's also the closest anyone has come in recent years to doing a proper retro version of a beloved-by-enthusiasts car. The Chrysler PT Cruiser? Chevrolet SS-R? Not so much.
If you're wondering just how serious Autech was in making it a worthy tribute to '60s sports sedans, the tuner fitted a classic, leather-wrapped Nardi steering wheel.
You may not like its looks—or its method—but I have a feeling that if could offer, say, a test drive of the car to readers I'd have more than a thousand names to choose from!