Published on August 7th, 2018 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
What happened to Mitsuoka Motors in Malaysia?
You have probably never seen one or if you did, you did not know what it was. Hand-made from Japan…. yes hand made…….and using base engines and chassis made by other Japanese automakers like Mazda and Nissan, Mitsuoka is Japan’s 10th largest carmaker and yet most people have never heard of them.
Mitsuoka started out as a car repair shop in the 1960s in Toyama, 250 miles west of Tokyo. It expanded to include car dealerships in the late 80s before designing and building its own cars. But the real dream of self-admitted British car nut and company chairman, Susumu Mitsuoka, was to be recognized as a fully-fledged carmaker in its own right. He achieved that accolade in the mid-90s after designing his own chassis for the Caterham-lookalike Zero 1, a sports car that employed Mazda’s MX-5 1.6-liter drivetrain. To be recognized as a “carmaker” in Japan, all you have to do is show that you can make a reliable, safe, unique chassis after proving that your new car can pass several stringent crash-tests.
Tired of Japan’s boring designs and wanting to create his own masterpieces, the maverick Mitsuoka started out by borrowing chassis and powertrains from major American and Japanese carmakers and dropping significantly remolded bodies onto them. From the late 80s into the mid-90s, he built a slew of adventurous-looking models, many extracting strong design hints from English classics like Jaguar and Rolls Royce. Some of his more adventurous models include the Excalibur-inspired La Seyde coupe which sits on a Mustang platform and employs Ford’s V8 drivetrain. Yet another model boasting a huge Rolls Royce-like grille and lights is the Galue, a mid-sized sedan dropped onto a 2.0 liter Nissan Silvia platform.
Today we still see the Mitsuoka flagship showroom and advertising billboard along Jalan University but the quirky hand made cars are all gone and instead in its place are grey/reconditioned Japanese SUV’s and MPV’s. It looks like the AP used car business is better than the quirky hand made car business.