Japan holds a lot of weight all across the automotive world. The small island somehow gives the world its most reliable and sensible vehicles like Honda and Toyota, while simultaneously giving us the gift of some of the most exciting and interesting cars the world has ever seen. Whether you drive a Honda Accord or a Nissan Skyline, the land of the rising sun means something to nearly every motorist. However, Fewer of us are familiar with one of Japan’s coolest and most whacked-out custom-car builders, Mitsuoka.
Japan is an old and complex place that can’t be reduced to simple stereotypes. There are many seemingly contradictory intricacies that, as someone who knows little about the island nation, couldn’t begin to explain.
Politeness and Etiquette seem equally as fundamental to Japanese culture as giant, space fairing robots are. I would argue that it is precisely why they are responsible for so many great cars. Mitsuoka certainly falls on the space-robot side of things.
The Le Seyde Dore
Being from Alabama, I heard many people dream of owning a Fox-body Mustang. I don’t think a single one of them had anything like this in mind. Road & Track describes the Le Seyde Dore as being roughly the same size as a small sailboat. Mitsuoka dressed this 1991 Fox-body Mustang as a 1928 Mercedes-Benz SSK.
The coolest part of the aesthetic here is that the front has almost nothing to do with a Mustang, but you can start to see the Fox-body peeking through the 1920s dress when you see the profile.
To continue the long thread of weirdness, if you visit Mitsoua’s website (which I highly recommend), you will be hard-pressed to find any specs on the older cars they built, the Le Seyde line included. Specs aren’t really the point, though, are they?
Mitsuoka is only here for the fun of it. These cars are meant to make you smile when you see it, not flex about how much power it has. I wish more carmakers would take that cue. The wacky carmaker didn’t only use Fox-body Mustangs for the Le Seyde; they also used the proper (for Japan) right-hand drive, Nissan Silvia.
Mitsuoka’s other creations
R&T reports that Mitsuoka, like many major Japanese brands, can point look back over fifty years of business in the automotive industry. Mr. Susumu Mitsuoka started the space-alien car company in 1968. Although the company started as a repair shop, its creativity quickly outgrew repairs and burst into the custom coachbuilding world.
Mr. Mitsuoka was a self-proclaimed British car nut. Even without this confession, the British sportscar scene is clearly seen in many of the company’s creations. It has made cars based on the track-special Lotus 7, called the Mitsuoka Zero1, and a current model called the Veiwt; a Nissan Micra with the front end of a classic Jaguar Mk2.
The most recent Mitsuoka simply wants to be friends
The latest creation from the Mitsuoka laboratory is the “Buddy.” It is made from the bones of a Toyota Rav4 and is transformed into a strange mismatch of Ford Bronco features. This truck is confusing; it leaves any car aficionado with taste almost repulsed, but it slowly starts to win you over. It’s the Mitsuoka way of making you think, “oh, lord! This shouldn’t exist,” but then slowly, your icy, prudish heart melts. The realization sets in that it makes you happy to know someone is in the world driving this and loving it.
These cars are a giant, smiling middle finger to the caviar and champagne stained grounds of the Concours d’Elegance, and I love it.