Muji Car 1000

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I think it's essential that if you call yourself a car enthusiast, you should spend some time in the service side of the automotive industry. Not only to see a bit of how the sausage is made, of course, but because you'll quickly discover that most people just don't give a shit about cars.

(Honestly, I don't blame them.)

Beyond driverless cars being considerably safer for more normal tasks like commuting and long highway drives in nice weather, I see them being quickly adopted by many people who never really enjoyed driving and would have preferred public transit (if it was more convenient or cleaner) or taxis (if they had money to burn).

My mom is already a saint 100 times over, but her patience with a son whose first word was "car" was superhuman. She got her license at 40, by the way, only because the kids needed to be taken places. I think she ultimately enjoyed driving sometimes, but more for the freedom and less for the car. At the mention of the word "turbo", however, she'd start looking for an escape.

You may think that the entire world is sitting on its hands, waiting for the new Audi R8 or whatever, but most people could care less. I know there's a new one, but horsepower? Engines? No idea. (Besides, I'm usually busy learning about Ladas with Porsche engines.)

The Muji Car 1000 is brilliant precisely because it addresses people who would buy a car if it simply said "Car" on its butt. 

"Does it work? Is it good on fuel? Cool, I'm in."

Japan's market is a marvel of specificity, and just as much as there's a kei car for young women who love rabbits (Suzuki Alto Lapin), and one for young women named Carol (Mazda Carol), there's a car for people who need a car but don't really want one. This is the anti-enthusiast car.

In the first world, I think that the 2001 Muji Car 1000 is also the hatchback that holds the title for the modern car from a major manufacturer with the least number of features—though proving this will be an exercise in splitting hairs. 

It's important to understand that Muji is a "non-brand" brand, but unlike the generic coarse-becuase-it's-still-bark toilet paper rolls only sold in a package of 250, Muji's items are generally of quite high quality. I shop there when I can, because it's rare to find well-made items for a reasonable price that aren't slathered in logos. This approach wins Muji fans, which is why the company now has stores all over the world.

The Car 1000 had zero options, and is in fact de-contented from the normal Nissan March (Micra other places)—yes, this is just a March. There are no external badges, no nothing. Drivers were treated to a CD player and radio…with only two speakers. Bumpers, door handles, and trim were unpainted, and steel wheels with hubcaps were it. It's a miracle the cupholders survived.

Colour? Marble white. Rear bench seat? Vinyl. Trunk lining? Vinyl. Engine? 1.0-litre 4-cylinder with 59 horsepower, mated exclusively to a 4-speed automatic. Presumably, the Nissan logo was left on the steering wheel so owners could match the symbol to a dealer's as they approached. "Oh! That's the same symbol as on my wheel. Maybe they'll look at my car for me? I think I hear a noise…"

Lest you think this is a crazy idea—and who would buy a car with no redeeming "enthusiast" qualities—the limited run of 1,000 units was sold exclusively online in 2001. They sold out. Those who pre-ordered the car received a free gift, too: a logo-less Muji bicycle.

Laugh all you want, but there aren't 1,000 Argyll GTs in the world.