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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Japan's Mitsuoka Car Company

Have you ever heard of the Mitsuoka Motor Company?

It’s a Japanese automobile manufacturer that has, since 1993, been selling its Mitsuoka Viewt (see image above) as a retro-styled model resembling the beautiful 1963 Jaguar MK2.

The thing is, Mitsuoka has been in business since 1968… manufacturing automobiles that look less like Japanese cars, and instead more like cars that Japan Anglophiles are interested in purchasing, selling some 15,000 Viewt's in Japan alone since that model’s introduction.

The Viewt—how the fug do you pronounce that, and why… why Japan?— 

Until 2016, one could only purchase a Viewt, and other company models in Southeast Asia, but for those in the UK and Ireland, you can drive on yourself after visiting exclusive dealer  T W White & Sons.

Mitsuoka produces: the Viewt, Roadster, and Brooklands, and a few other models.

Hmmm.. would you want an expensive Japanese faux version of a British car you only wish you could afford?

I’d take a kit car of a Shelby Cobra… so my answer is hell, yes. Still… I would really like a car company to build me an affordable car that looks like a 1957 Chevy Nomad wagon, but with all the modern conveniences that ABS, air bags, AC, power steering, et al… it doesn’t even need to be made of all that great American steel like the original, but it should have all that chrome on it.

For example, the Mitsuoka Viewt is available in Japan in six different trim levels and comes equipped with such great modern things like Anti-lock Braking System, air conditioning, Electronic Brake-force Distribution and Power Steering—stuff that a 1963 Jaguar MK2 did not have… though I am unsure about the A/C - but whatever… it’s a modern A/C system.

Pricing in the UK is likely to range between £23,000 to £29,000 depending on model variant and specification with a waiting list time of about six months.

The thing is… the Viewt doesn’t really look like an old Jaguar… yeah, it has rounded headlights, and a grille that evokes memories of the old girl… but really, in every photo I’ve seen of the car it only bears a passing resemblance to a 1963 Jaguar MK2.

The 1963 Jaguar MK2 - okay... the Viewt kindda looks like it. Kindda.
For people who know, that’s like saying the 1955 Chevy Bel-Air looks like the 1956 version or like the 1957 version.

I’m nowhere NEAR a car expert and I know the many differences.. the many visual differences. Any Jaguar fan worth his/her salt that wishes they could afford an MK2 knows that the Viewt is a very distant relative by marriage and by cousin of the iconic British cat.

Drive-wise… the Japanese Viewt comes with a 1.2 liter engine… which is bloody tiny. My old white 1986 Mazda 323 (aka Familia, for the Japanese) was equipped with a 1.6 liter engine capable of 86 HP. Now, before you snicker, that lightweight beast had what I like to call a hidden gear that would kick in at 120 kph and easy take me up to 140 kph… I think the fastest we (proverbial we) ever went was 205 kph. But that was on a decline and after a helluva long run-up.

So… a 1.2 liter engine in the Viewt… I’m pretty sure that car is a LOT heavier than my old 323, and even with improved engine tuning, it’s not going to have a good acceleration or even a high top speed.

But that’s not the point. The car was built for Japanese anglophiles who might like a spot of Earl Grey rather than o-cha (green tea)… it’s a knock-off… an homage… it’s meant to give one the appearance of having something special.

Roadster


As for the Mitsuoka Roadster, the Roadster will cost about £53,000… like holy crap.

For that amount of money, you’d think you’d be getting something more than a Mazda MX-5… but the Roadster comes with the same 2.0 liter engine as the MX-5 generating 158 HP and 139 pounds/feet of torque… which is what the Mazda Miata used to provide.

Heck… even the Roadster’s interior looks pretty much identical to the MX-5!

Still… nothing wrong with a Mazda MX-5…. it’s the world’s favorite roadster, after all.

It’s just that for that kind of money why wouldn’t you just get a MX-5? It’s less expensive… but depending on one’s tastes, that Roadster sure LOOKS kindda hot.

But is the Roadster pretty—or does it just look that way?

Brooklands


Because the Brooklands is supposed to be a limited edition version of the Mitsuoka Roadster, I am once again confused by the Japanese naming. What is Brooklands

If you look at the photo above, the car looks like a cross between a British MG at the front and the MX-5 in the rear.

That’s like marrying a sex goddess who only wants to screw around when she isn’t cooking and cleaning up after you. You think something like that exists—it should—but it never does. But here it
is in the Brooklands.

Remember that line: She ain’t pretty she just looks that way (it’s from a rock song by The Northern Pikes)… well despite no mention of a larger engine or horsepower, Mitsuoka has raised the sticker price on the Brooklands:  £56,700.

Okay… so what do you get for that, since it ain’t more bank for the buck….

You get handmade wire wheels (like the old Jaguars!), and inside, beige and green stitching—one can only hope it’s Jaguar green, which is a real color used by Jaguar for its racing vehicles.

For both the Roadster and the Brooklands, Mitsuoka brags that they have the world’s fastest power-retractable hard top that opens and closes in 12 seconds.

Speed…

Other cars manufactured by Mitsuoka are: the Galue, the Ryugi, the I’m-not-sure-what-the-fug-it-is Like T-3, and the Himiko, which is in actuality the Roadster.

Yes, in Japan, if you would like a Roadster, you should ask for the Himiko. If you are going to enter a Himiko, you might as well do it right.

The Like is a compact two-seater electric car (??!!) that can carry a load up to 100kg. Uh... I'm 100kg. Doesn't the load capacity depend on the weight of the two people ON the "car"? Because if we have two lightweights on the car, then surely it can carry more than 100kg... or is that the maximum weight the storage area in the back can hold up without crumbling? 
Glancing at the www.mitsoka-motor.com Japanese website, you can see in English (the car company caters to Anglophiles, afterall!) some of the vehicles they used to manufacture: like the Like, Nouera, Orochi, Yuga, Ryoga, Ray, Zero1, Le-Seyde, SSK, BUBU356 Speedster (like a 50s Porsche!), BUBU50 series, which look like those old crappy three-wheel Euro cars seen in Mr. Bean or Cars 2.

There’s also the MC-1 (micro car series) - which I think we need to look at because really… I’m sure you are curious as I am:
The CONVOY88 (made in 2002) on the bottom right looks like it tried to go between a pair of buses.Two others look like golf carts. One looks like a decapitated VW Beetle. The two sports cars - they look like legit vehicles.
Okay… remember an old 1970s American song that snickered that “you’re gonna get killed in a Japanese car”—take a gander at the Mitsuoka 1982 BUBU501, and you’ll wonder if that song was an omen, or whether or not the car company actually sold any of these things:

The BUBU501... it certainly looks like one could get more than a boo-boo if one was in an accident in this thing. Three-wheelers don't cut it for me. It takes back to a time in my childhood where I wish the number of wheels I rode on was like what the big boys had.
Despite a few snippy remarks, I like what Mitsuoka is doing. 

More company information on Mitsuoka can be found at: www.mitsuoka-motor.co.uk, where you can see all the details of the cars, and find brochures.

Kanpai,
Andrew Joseph

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