Jill Stephens & Ian Mckeen

Jill’s Figgy Rosalita, an epic story of blood, sweat, tears and a very racy love affair with a 26 year old.

It was in the winter of 2007. The winter of discontent you might say. We were sat in a local pub when Jill looked out of the window and said “that’s the one I want”. With starry eyes, she pointed to a peculiar looking car. I say peculiar because it wasn’t the best it could have been. It had been patched up so many times, I counted “50 shades of Lapis grey”.  I knew then that she had fallen in love with another. She hadn’t been happy for a long while. Her existing love, although modern and reliable, wasn’t up to her expectations. She longed for a more distinguished, more outspoken and more exciting model, one with a body to die for and an ability to turn the heads of others.

I had never seen one of these before. How could I compete with this? This was the start of a voyage of discovery into the weird world of the Nissan Figaro and their quirky owners. I start this story with 100 brownie points.

A few months later Jill had purchased her dream love. It had just been imported and had an appeal that can only be described as `love me, love my car`. I said to Jill that “I recall driving something like this at the fairground when I was a child”. With a thwack, I felt the smooth back of her hand round the side of my head and then another one for retorting back that some people will pay good money for experiencing that amount of pain. (She took away 25 points). She had found her perfect `Mr Grey` and no one was going to tell her any different.

Over the years my cars had come and gone but Jill cherished her little Figgy now called Rosalita. (Friends call it the Noddy car). As I laughed at this I lost another 15 points. She had some work done to it and upgraded the stereo. All I hear as she pulls onto the drive now is the sweet sound of the car and not so sweet sound of Bruce Springsteen blaring out of the CD player. (I may lose my life for this comment). By the way Rosalita is her favourite Springsteen song.

Year after year it passed its MOT but it had started to show signs of rust and age. A bit like me really. It finally came to a point when I said, to Jill’s horror and disgust, “You don’t drive your car that much anymore so why not sell it”. Well, the look I was given said it all. I had just lost all of my points and more. My bags were already packed and I was at the point of being thrown out of the house for such a stupid comment when I had an epiphany. Quickly thinking out loud I said “well how about getting the car fully restored?” Brownie points were now coming back thick and fast. Jill’s eyes lit up and it was then that I realised that I had lost in love to a 26 year old.

After a lot of research we opted to take the car to The Figaro shop in Didcot. Having dealt with many garages in the past, I was dubious as to what these guys could offer over and above the rest. We walked into the workshop and were shown around. To our surprise quite a few Figaro’s were in different stages of repair and restoration. We left the car with the team and were informed that a full no obligation appraisal will be completed. So far I was impressed. Better still so was Jill. (A few more brownie points scored I do believe. I’m now cooking on gas and can do no wrong). (FYI, 100 brownie points equates to a night out with the lads).

So a few days later and a few hours chatting to the guys in the workshop, the appraisal was complete. Jill had decided that she would opt for a custom restoration. Respray, mechanical and interior.The budget was decided and as I spoke to the guys at the Figaro shop, asked about some of the extras that would set this car off above others. This included a professionally made bespoke book about our restoration and custom rear fluted seat. I say our, because I have now grown to respect this little car. Yes we could have spent the money on a brand new car, but where is the appeal in that?

Wherever we go with this car people stop and stare. They come up to us and ask questions. One older gentlemen said. “I had one of these back in the 50s”. We didn’t have the heart to tell him it was made in 1991. This is something you never get with a modern car.

Jill has had her little Figgy now for 10 years. It has become part of the family. It has cost blood, sweat, tears (of joy and sadness) and quite a lot of money. Was it worth it? Oh yes. Would we do another restoration? Probably. Would we sell the car now? This is a definite no. How can we? It would be like getting rid of one of the children. Although this would prove a cheaper option.

The story doesn’t end here though. If anything, this is the start of another chapter in the life of Rosalita. With her shiny bumpers and restored rear end (the cars not Jill’s) it comes out weekends. What an absolute delight to drive. Winding our way through the countryside with the wind rushing through what hair I have left, stopping off at a pub and spending an afternoon talking to people about the life of this little gem of a car. Jill’s Nissan Figaro.

You may be wondering how many brownie points I finished with. Well I do believe I am in credit, however, I have been reliably informed that these can be taken away at any time.

A special thank you goes out to the guys in The Figaro Shop. Without the work they have put in I can honestly say I would be well and truly in the dog house.

Published on 19th June 2017