You probably have seen a Rolls Royce or a C2 Corvette, but it didn’t look like one. If it resembles a Rolls Royce Phantom, it’s the Mitsuoka Galue. If it resembles a C2 Corvette, it’s the Mitsuoka Rock Star concept.

If you have never seen one of these, you probably wonder why someone would do that to a Rolls Royce, but it’s not the case. Mitsuoka is a Japanese company established in 1968 specializing in building new cars from other cars mainly manufactured by other Japanese manufacturers such as Toyota, Mazda, and Nissan. 

Mitsuoka technicians rework the body, leaving only the engine, drivetrain, suspension, and some parts of the interior. For example, the Mitsuoka Roadster is built on the Mazda Roadster platform, has the same 1.5-liter Skyactiv engine and transmission, and is front-wheel drive. 

Unknown to many, it started out as a car repair shop in 1968, later expanding to dealerships and accredited service centers mainly dealing with JDM cars and J-spec cars. 

black Mitsuoka

However, it didn’t start “production” until 1982, when they made the 3-wheeled BUBU 501. In 1985 they began building replicas of cars from other manufacturers, starting with the BUBU 505-C, built like the 1958 Morgan 4/4. 

The CEO, Susumu Mitsuoka, wanted to be recognized as a fully pledged automaker and started designing an original chassis used in the Mitsuoka Zero-1. It featured the 1,6-liter and 1.8-liter Mazda Roadster engines and transmissions, but this was not the focusing point. 

To be considered an automaker in Japan, you had to design a safe, reliable, durable, and unique chassis. It could pass crash tests that were quite demanding at the time. This became a struggle, and soon, Mitsuoka discontinued the Zero-1and started focusing on remodelling cars from other manufacturers, mainly using chassis from JDM manufacturers. 

Being a British car fanatic, Susumu Mitsuoka first started making vehicles that resembled some Jaguar and Lotus models. The Zero-1 resembles the Lotus Seven, and not many would know the difference if the two were put side by side. 

Mitsuoka

Mitsuoka is known due to three models in its “production” line-up, the Mitsuoka Galue, Himiko and Viewt. If you thought a Rolls Royce Replica was the worst they could do, wait until you see the Orochi built on the NA2 Honda NSX platform. It has been criticized before, but in Japan but it has some unique look you can’t seem to notice, such as this one donning a Liberty Walk body kit. 

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Mitsuoka Models

Mitsuoka

Mitsuoka Galue 1996-present

This is among one of the most produced Models, with production starting in 1996. The first series consists of four generations; most are built on the Nissan platforms. The second series used a Nissan Platform, while the third series Galue is built on a Toyota Axio chassis. 

First Series 1996-2011

Galue 1- 1996-1999

Mitsuoka didn’t try much with the first Galue to Roll out of their production plant in Kakeomachi, Toyama City, Japan. The Galue 1 was built on the Nissan Crew platform but with only one engine option, the RB20DE. The only changes made were the grill which resembled a Bentley R-type grill, and the taillights, taken straight out of a J-Spec Cadillac Fleetwood. 

In the 1990s, the Nissan Crew was mainly used as a taxi and the Japanese law enforcement agencies. It was affordable, and parts were easy to get. This made the perfect car to work on and use the advantages as a selling point. 

The only parts made in-house were the headlights, rearview mirrors, seat fabric, and chrome bits, making the Galue look luxurious. However, some dealers sold the Galue one as the Nissan Crew as both of these cars were not any different. Even today, you’ll find some exporters and importers selling it as the Nissan Crew. 

Production only lasted 3 years as this was more like a test run to Mitsuoka. They later discontinued the Nissan Crew platform for the Galue at the end of production in 2001. 

Galue 1
Galue 1
Galue 2 1999-2005

Immediately after Nissan Unveiled the Y34 Cedric and Y34 Gloria, Mitsuoka jumped on the opportunity to use the platforms, engines, and other mechanicals. The Galue derived from the Y34 Cedric has the 2.5-litre V6 (VQ25DD), while the Gloria derived has the 3.0-litre V6 (VQ30DD). 

Galue 2
Galue 2

Apart from the engine options, the difference is that the Galue derived from the Nissan Gloria has a more luxurious interior with wood bits, luxury fabric seats, and window blinders. As a result, it was more expensive, and lesser units were made. 

Both cars came with a 4-speed automatic CVT transmission like Nissan made them. Mitsuoka didn’t touch the drivetrain and suspension, among other mechanical parts. The only parts that changed were the interior stitching, dashboard, and wheels. 

Unlike the Galue 1, the exterior was reworked but used the same body panels. The difference is only visible to a keen eye. 

Galue 2
Galue 3 2008-2014

When producing the first series Galue, Mitsuoka tended to follow Nissan models’ production years. The Galue 2 was discontinued after Nissan discontinued the y34 Cedric and Y34 Gloria in late 2004. The last units rolled out of the production plant in 2005. 

Galue 3

Mitsuoka then hopped on the 2004 Nissan Fuga (Y50), taking apart the front and rear ends and rebuilding both ends. The result is a “Rolls Royce Phantom” whose designers slept on the work and used round motorcycle headlights. Looks awkward, but some prefer it that way despite the awkwardness. 

In 2007, Mitsuoka introduced the Galue convertible, which was the first time a non-JDM car chassis was being used. The Galue convertible was based on a Ford Mustang Chassis but still had the front and rear end from the Galue built on the Nissan Fuga Y50 chassis. 

Galue 3

The Galue convertible resembles a Rolls Royce Wraith but is not even close to the interior or exterior build quality. Mitsuoka did some interior and exterior touch-ups, but it remained an entry-level Mustang with a body kit. The Mitsuoka Convertible features Ford’s 4.0-litre Cologne V6 and 4.6-litre Modular V8 engines. These were later upgraded to a 3.7-litre Duratec V6 and a 5.0-litre Coyote V8 towards the end of production in 2010. 

Second Series 2008-2010

The Second series Galue is the smallest in the Galue line-up. It features the Toyota Axio chassis (NZE141) with the 1.5-litre and 1.8-litre engines with optional four-wheel-drive. Like other models produced before it, the second series Galue also called the Galue 240, has a British touch all over the front and rear grills. 

Galue 3

The front grill resembles a mix of grills from the 1990 Bentley Eight and the 1955 Bentley R-type, while the front and rear bumpers resemble those from the 1960 Jaguar Mark II. However, the Galue 240 still resembles its predecessors. Still, to frequent buyers, it was not appealing as much, mainly because of the shorter wheelbase. 

Mitsuoka only used the NZE141 chassis for 2 years before discontinuing it and replacing it with a Nissan Teana J32 chassis.  

However, they did not cease to use the NZE141 chassis entirely. In 2014, the NZE141 chassis was used on the Mitsuoka Ryugi, which looks like the Galue but is cheaper and less luxurious. 

Third Series 2010-2015

When Mitsuoka started to use the Teana J32 chassis for the Galue, it was the first time they were increasing the wheelbase. The chassis was lengthened by 3.9 inches, and the front end was reworked to resemble the first series Galue II. 

Galue 3

The only thing that changed from the Teana Galue was the taillights and some optional chrome bits. Interior remained unchanged, but Mitsuoka removed the Nissan badge and replaced it with theirs everywhere. The third series was mainly sold with a 3.5-litre V6 (VQ35DE) as only the LX trim was converted to a Galue. 

This helped save conversion costs as the LX trim was the most luxurious Teana spec with alloy wheels, leather seats, and heated front seats. Mitsuoka had to get rid of the badges and front and rear end conversion. 

Fourth Series 2015-present 

The fourth series is based on the Nissan Teana L33 and Altima L33 LHD (left-hand-drive) platform with no significant changes from the third series apart from the LED headlights from the Fiat 500. It was the first LHD Mitsuoka to be sold outside Japan. 

Galue 4

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Mitsuoka Himiko

The Mitsuoka Himiko/Roadster is a vintage-looking convertible coupe that resembles something that would have been an outcome if Morgan Aero and Jaguar XK120 teamed up. Production for the Himiko started in 2018. It is currently in its second generation, still using the Mazda Roadster’s chassis used in the first generation. 

Unlike the chassis used for the Mitsuoka Galue, the Mazda Roadster chassis used for the Himiko is stripped down, leaving the engine, transmission, and other necessary drivetrain and suspension mechanical parts. Most body panels are replaced with new ones, including the doors, trunk, and hood. 

First Generation (NC Miata chassis) 2008-2018

The first Generation Himiko is made from the Mazda Roadster ND chassis sharing the same engine, transmission options, and mechanicals. This was the first time Mitsuoka stripped down and rebuilt a car, and it actually looked good. 

Galue 5

Mazda Roadsters are known for their mild looks. If you prefer something unique, the Himiko is the car for you. Unlike other Mitsuoka models are mainly sold with an automatic transmission, you can get the Himiko with either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission. 

Second Generation (ND Miata chassis) 2018-present

There is not much difference between the first-gen Himiko and the second-gen Himiko apart from the ND Miata chassis used, and the Retractable hardtop was discontinued. The second-gen Himiko only comes with a retractable leather soft top. 

Galue 2

Most buyers still go for the first-gen Himiko mainly because of the larger 2.0-litre engine compared to the 1.5-litre in the ND Roadster. Transmission options remain the same as in the first-gen Himiko, a 6-speed automatic or 6-speed manual transmission. 

Mitsuoka Viewt

The Mitsuoka Viewt is considered the most absurd Mitsuoka model. This is because it’s built on the Nissan March/Micra chassis. Still, unlike other models, it doesn’t retain the coupe or sedan body configuration. Mitsuoka converts a standard Nissan Micra or March to a four-door sedan that looks like it doesn’t belong on the road. 

The rounded trunks look like they’re not supposed to be there and seem like they’re almost sagging off the rear end. However, some people like it that way. Mitsuoka would have stopped making the Viewt and focused on their more marketable models, such as the Galue or the Himiko if they didn’t sell. 

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K11 Viewt 1993-2003

K11 Viewt
K11 Viewt

The K11 Viewt was built off the K11 Micra, and it features a redesigned front and rear end. Mitsuoka went all out on the Viewt, especially on the front end, which resembles a jaguar XK120 and is full of chrome bits. Everything on the front is lined or covered with chrome, from the new bumper extension to the signal lights. 

Luxurious versions of the K11 Viewt had leather seats, leather door panels, a leather dash, and leather-wrapped steering. They were only sold with a 4-speed automatic transmission driving the front wheels. Other specs had either the 4-speed automatic or the 5-speed manual transmission. You get the K11 Viewt with either a 1.0-litre or a 1.3-litre petrol engine. 

K12 Viewt 2005-2012

Mitsuoka revealed the K12 Viewt when Nissan released the K12 Micra in 2005. The K12 Micra has a rounder body panel appearance as most, including the doors, were redone. The trunk extended more outwards, and as a result, the K12 Micra has a larger rear bumper than the K11. 

K12 Viewt
K12 Viewt

A 2-door K12 Viewt was made from the Micra 12SR, the sportiest version with a Micra with the 1.2-litre engine, a 5-speed manual transmission, and carbon fibre inserts on the dashboard, center console, and door panels.

K13 Viewt 2012-present

K13 Viewt
K13 Viewt

Mitsuoka was kind of late to the party when they unveiled the K13 Viewt, based on the K13 Micra, in 2012, as Nissan unveiled the K13 Micra in 2010. Nothing was different if you compare the K13 Viewt to its predecessors, except slightly smoother body lines. Mitsuoka introduced new bold paint codes such as the bright yellow displayed above. 

FAQ

Are Mitsuoka cars good?

Depends on your definition of “good.” If you want a unique vehicle that very few people have and don’t mind its looks, go for a Mitsuoka Galue or a Viewt. Mitsuoka is not commonly known, and most people will think that you are driving some vintage Jaguar or Morgan from the 60s. Some of these cars come with tunable engines, such as the VQ30, RB20, and American muscle V8 engines. You can easily create a monster sleeper from a 10,000-dollar Mitsuoka.

Is Mitsuoka Japanese or Chinese?

Mitsuoka is a Japanese auto manufacturer.

Are Mitsuoka cars durable?

Depends on the make and model that the Mitsuoka model was built from. For example, a Mitsuoka Galue built on the Axio’s NZE141 chassis will last for around the same time as a standard Axio.

Are Mitsuoka cars expensive?

Well, yes. When buying a Mitsuoka car, you are basically paying for a body kit and some interior upgrades, rarely. Mitsuoka models cost almost twice the price of the vehicles they were built from. For example, a 2010 Mitsuoka Himiko sold for over $55,000. This is nearly half the price of a 2010 Mazda Roadster sold for around $23,000 when new.

The looks are undeniably unique, but it makes more sense to buy a body kit and have it installed over buying a Mitsuoka car.

What problems do Mitsuoka cars have?

Mitsuoka cars share common issues with the vehicles that they were built from. For example, RB engine issues and rust will always be evident in the 1996 Galue. Both problems are also common in the 1996 Nissan Crew. There might be some issues with the body panels, especially after a crash, since they do not re-align easily.

Are Mitsuoka cars reliable?

Mitsuoka does not tamper with the car’s mechanicals, drivetrain, suspension, and electronics; thus, reliability is not compromised depending on the vehicle a specific model was built from

What does the Mitsuoka logo mean?

It’s based on the original Chinese character for Car, “車”.

Christopher Weydert
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