Nissan never officially made a hot Micra. Enter the Japanese aftermarket
By Cam Tait / Friday, 15 September 2023 / Loading comments
Anyone who considers themselves part of the Gran Turismo generation (myself very much included) will be familiar with the Japanese tuning legend Tommykaira. Unlike Spoon, TOM’S and (mostly) Mine’s, the Kyoto-based tuner doesn’t put all its eggs into one manufacturer’s basket, instead focusing its attention on bringing all sorts of Japanese gems up to speed. It even had a stab at creating its own two-seater sports car, the ZZ, which looks a bit like a cross between an S1 Lotus Elise and a Renault Sport Spider – and is every bit as cool as it sounds.
Although we don’t hear too much from Tommykaira much these days (probably because it hasn’t appeared in a GT game for a decade) its recent social media posts suggest it’s still busy making fast cars go even faster. But like so many Japanese tuning outfits, the ’90s were when Tommykaira really hit its stride. The decade saw radical demo cars such as the R34 Skyline GT-R -based Tommykaira R, the bonkers Impreza M20b and even a E34 5 Series built in collaboration with German tuner Hartge. Perhaps the most radical of them all, however, is the oddity that you’re looking at right here – and it’s magnificent.
This is the Tommykaira M13: the Nissan Micra (or March as it’s called in Japan) hot hatch that never was. Well, hot might be pushing it a bit, but it was certainly a lot warmer than the base K11 Micra. Annoyingly, there’s naff all about the M13 in the public domain, but it’s widely believed the M13 saw power from the Micra’s 1.3-litre inline four ramp up from 75hp to a giddying 90. Quite how Tommykaira achieved this isn’t stated, though word on the Micra forums is that upgrades were made to the cams, inlet, ECU and exhaust system. The resulting performance meant the Micra’s acceleration times were no longer measured in years, and beating the 100mph mark probably wasn’t quite as impossible as it was on the standard car.
It’s worth remembering too that the K11 Micra comes in well below a tonne, so it’s not like the motor has to work all that hard. Besides, that, er, ‘bold’ body kit apparently made the K11 even lighter, while a new set of alloy wheels helped reduce unsprung mass. Behind them sit bigger brakes and Tommykaira’s own suspension system, and there’s a strut brace under the bonnet to improve rigidity. Granted, the design won’t be to everyone’s taste, but those upgrades coupled with a lightweight platform all point to a car that’ll be a riot to drive well below the speed limit.
There’s also a touch of class on the inside, with the ultra-dreary stock interior receiving a major refresh with wood veneer, leather seats embroidered with the Tommykaira name and a steering wheel which, to my eyes, looks like the Nardi wheels found in Mazda MX-5s and Subaru Imprezas of the era. Okay, so the interior is completely at odds with the wild exterior design, but you’ll be far too busy staring at the Tommykaira-branded instruments, waiting as the speedo gently ticks north to really care.
It’s also rare. Super rare. Nailing down an official production figure is tricky, seeing as though the M13 kits were allegedly made available for those wanting to upgrade their own Micra at home. This example, however, was sorted at the factory and comes with a plaque to prove it. The ad says it’s chassis number two, out of a production run believed to amount to just five cars. So while you might disapprove of the way it looks either inside or out (or both), £8,995 for an ultra-rare curiosity from a tuning icon will surely never not be tempting…
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