Mitsuoka Motor Co., Ltd. is a lesser known automotive company that specializes in its own unique brand of customized vehicles based on existing platforms from automakers including Toyota, Nissan, Mazda and Ford. Finding a niche in building eccentric cars, the company has continued production since its establishment in 1968. Based in Toyohama Prefecture, the small Japanese company of just over 600 employees is Japan’s 10th largest automaker crafting each car by hand with the aim of producing a unique vehicle for its clients.
Taking heavy visual cues from 1950′s and 60′s European vehicles, the maker has often been tagged with directly copying styling features from brands such as Bentley in an attempt to add luxury appeal to their brand. Their most popular vehicles on the streets of Japan are the “Viewt” and “Cute” both based on the popular compact Nissan “March”. Looking as if they were picked straight out of a Japanese cartoon, the vintage-styled automobiles can be seen zipping around the city on any given day.
Some of the more obscure Mitsuoka models such as the “Orochi Roadstar”, produced in 2005, have risen to a cult status due to their rarity and unconventional organic styling. This particular car was built from the ground up around a V6 Toyota engine, and is easily one of the more well-known vehicles in the automakers line up. Its interesting design is claimed by the automaker to have been inspired by a fish and a snake, which is easily to believe.
Continuing in their aspiration for custom luxury vehicles, Mitsuoka also produced the “Himiko”, built on an extend wheelbase version of the Mazda MX-5. The vehicle’s design by Takanori Aoki is reminiscent of classic English sports car design with an elongated hood and curvy accents. Built around the theme of a majestic ship at sea, the roadster definitely achieves the look of being plucked out of the past and transported to the modern world.
The Mitsuoka “Galue” is another interesting vehicle that called global attention to the automaker at the 2010 Beijing Auto Show. Based on a Mustang convertible, the custom made conversion has been labeled as a cross between a late Cadillac and classic Bentley. Although an accurate description, the relatively cut-and-paste design has met its fair share of criticism.
Whether or not Mitsuoka fit your tastes, the automobile maker and customizing specialist has definitely made itself well known for such a small production company. Building unique cars from established platforms has allowed them to focus on creating vehicles shaped by their one-of-a-kind design philosophy. True to their mission statement, Mitsuoka definitely makes cars that stand out of the crowd.