Since the 1990s, Mitsuoka has produced many classic-inspired cars that have continuously captured the attention and the hearts of classic car lovers.
After the launch of its quirky and unconventional BUBU Series, the company shifted its focus towards retrofitting classic designs onto Japanese car-make chassis, thereby creating numerous affordable yet stylish models that are recognisable and well-loved today.
(Related Story: Mitsuoka: The BUBU Series)
In this article, we will be exploring the story behind the Mitsuoka models that were launched in the 1990s.
The 1990 Le-Seyde is Mitsuoka’s first official line of classic cars, though the company had not been recognised as a brand on its own yet. The two-door coupé bears striking resemblance to the Zimmer Golden Spirit, and was modified using the Nissan Silvia (S13). Mitsuoka only made a limited 500 units, and all were claimed to have been sold out within four days of its release.
The Dore (pronounced Doura) was a convertible version of the Le-Seyde. Released in 1991, the vehicle was modelled after the contemporary 1990 Ford Mustang, and even made use of the Mustang’s 4.9L V8 engine! The Dore was in production until 1993. After a long silence, the Le-Seyde line was revived for the last time in 2000 with the release of the Second Generation Le-Seyde, which was, again, in limited production. The last of this Le-Seyde was built in 2001, and it marked the end of the iconic series by Mitsuoka.
The Viewt is probably one of the most well-known cars by Mitsuoka. It is still in production today at the original Mitsuoka Motor factory in Toyama. Originally made in 1993, the Viewt is made to look like the 1963 Jaguar Mark 2, and uses the Nissan March (K11) as its base.
The first generation Viewt was in production till 2013, and was taken over by the second generation Viewt that was first introduced in 2005. The newer Viewt is made from a Nissan March (K12), and has become one of the most popular models with about 1,000 units sold annually.
The Viewt stands as Mitsuoka’s longest-running model in production. The company has even released the 20th Anniversary and 25th Anniversary versions of the Viewt – definitely a crowd favourite for Mitsuoka fans.
1991: Mitsuoka Zero-1
The Mitsuoka Zero-1 is another discontinued line that is important to Mitsuoka. It gained attention of the automotive industry, and led to Mitsuoka Motor being recognised as the 10th authorised automobile manufacturing company in Japan. It is the first ever model to be officially recognised as an Original Mitsuoka.
The Zero-1 is a Lotus Super Seven replica that made use of the Mazda MX-5 drivetrain. This fully open two-seater was followed up by the Classic Type F, which takes a futuristic spin on the Zero-1 and incorporates more curves to the rather boxy design of its predecessor.
The Galue is also one of the few Mitsuoka models that are still in production today. It started off as a modification of the Nissan Crew (HK30) and contains elements of the chrome grille from Bentley, as well as rear lights taken from the Cadillac Fleetwood.
The Galue has seen many iterations over the years, with different body shapes that saw smoother, sleeker curves. It even has a convertible version based on the Ford Mustang! However, the signature grilles and round headlights are unchanging, making the Galue model one that exudes American and British elegance.
1996 also saw the introduction of the Ray, which was a hatchback modelled after the Autozam Carol. Subsequent generations of the Ray also kept the unique hood design that seemed to resemble the Galue.
The Ray started out as a three-door car, but was eventually changed to become a five-door car based on the Daihatsu Mira Gino in 2002. While it received mixed reviews globally, it was apparently noted as the most attractive car in Australia! It saw the last of its limited production in 2004.
The Ryoga made its debut in 1998. The modified Nissan Primera (P11) has been noted as the Japanese Jaguar Mark II by many, and has been well received by the neo-classic car community.
The Ryoga came in a sedan and a hatchback version, and also had a second-generation version that was modified from the Nissan Sunny. While the Ryoga was discontinued in 2011, the elegant look of the car has endured the test of time, and is a statement of elegance and functionality that Mitsuoka boldly claims.
1998: MC-1 Series
The MC-1 (Microcar) is a quirky one-seater series that was made for fun and enjoyment. The MC-1s are recognised as “four-wheeled bicycle[s] with a motor”, and were delivered as a DIY-kit for customers to build the entire microcar from scratch.
Owners of the microcar greatly enjoy the process of building their own vehicle from start to finish, and were given the opportunity to modify the look and feel of the car at their own discretion – truly accentuating the individuality and personality that Mitsuoka wished to promote in Japan. While the company stopped manufacturing the MC-1 series in 2007, it still offers after-sales support that allows customers to purchase spare parts for their microcars!
If you would like to get your hands on your very own Mitsuoka Galue or Viewt, you are in luck! MYCAR Pte Ltd has been awarded as the official distributor of Mitsuoka cars in Singapore, and now, you can enjoy these beautiful models at an affordable price.
For more information, visit Mitsuoka Singapore via their website (coming soon!), or join in the conversation on the official Facebook page.
All images courtesy of Mitsuoka Motor.