When you’re learning about the singular Mitsuoka automotive brand of Toyama, Japan, two words that you will never be able to avoid using are “unique” and “unconventional.” Where other Japanese names like Toyota, Nissan and Honda have become global giants with sprawling production lines and eclectic ranges with mass, universal appeal, Mitsuoka never seems to have betrayed its core message of a limited range of truly interesting and special vehicles.
Mitsuoka Company Background: A Maverick Tale
Mitsuoka Motor Co. Ltd was founded on February 1, 1968 in Toyama City, Toyama Prefecture, Japan. It has built its reputation over the years on unique luxury vehicles, but despite its long history the company still only boasts under 500 employees — just 470 as of December 2019. Compare that to the likes of Toyota, which employs 340,000 people around the world, and you can safely say you have a niche brand.
Founder of the company, Susumu Mitsuoka, was a real automotive maverick who was just crazy about cars, and in particular, British cars. Back in the 1960s all he could see in the Japanese market was the same-old boring and functional designs. What he seemed to crave the most was artistry. After the first few decades of operating as a repair shop and dealership, the company developed its own unique chassis, which helped to firmly put Mitsuoka on the map. Getting to that point involved a range of unique, sometimes even garish designs that at the very least got the public talking.
What Mitsuoka has come to do best is take fundamental concepts that are put into mass production by bigger competitors like Mazda, Nissan and Toyota and reimagine them as niche, handcrafted individual pieces of art to be created for the individual spirit. To that end, they have a range of cars that carry elements of other cars like the Nissan Micra, Mazda MX5 etc, and even some of their components — Mazda Skyactiv engines, for instance — but with 100 percent original styling, accenting and features that turn it into a whole other automotive personality.
The company has several headline models in its line-up, three of which form the backbone of popularity, especially among Japanese imports for sale in the UK. They are:
• The Mitsuoka Viewt
• The Mitsuoka Ryoga
• The Mitsuoka Galue
The Viewt is a popular Japanese imports UK car that is reminiscent of the body and frame of the Nissan Micra, but with a more vintage design at the front end. It was first produced back in 1993, but still goes on today, now featuring some of the latest tech combined with classic wood-look interior for that continued nostalgic feel. The hand-crafted detailing like the round headlamps, elegant grille and old-world metallic bumper detailing and bonnet lines add an irresistible charm to the Viewt that can turn heads in admiration wherever it goes.
The Ryoga — not to be confused with a similar current model called the Ryugi — is a former entry-level luxury sedan modelled on the Nissan Sunny, Primera and Sentra models. It originally was produced from 1998 to 2004. It features many of the same old-world and crafted details at the front end as the Viewt, but it has a longer body and more defined sedan shape.
The Galue dates back to 1996 originally, but is still in production today. At first glance, it will give you the impression of a classic Rolls-Royce or Bentley, but it is in fact more closely related to the Nissan Crew, Fuga, and Teana — or at least it has been through its several generations. There was even a convertible model that was based on the idea of the Ford Mustang. The Galue continues to add colour and gravitas to the Mitsuoka range.
Other models you might find in the range of Japanese imports include the Ryugi luxury sedan, the Himiko roadster and the Rock Star, which is a masculine edition of the Mazda MX-5 Miata. The range of past models, too, is actually quite eclectic, with some truly interesting items like the Bubu, Speedster and Le-Seyde, as well as other ultra-modern and athletic offerings like the supercar-inspired Orochi.
The Allure of Mitsuoka
In a world where individuals are striving to carve out their own identity, there is an increasing desire for material goods that can better reflect individuality. This is one of the reasons behind the continued success of companies like Mitsuoka around the world. Though the company is but a speck of dust compared the titanic behemoths from Japan, Germany, France and the US, its approach of unique customization of mass-produced models will always have continuous appeal among the more individualistic in the population, and anyone else who just fancies something both affordable, but also unique.
In so many cases, limited production means a massively inflated price. When a big-name brand released a limited-edition version of a car into the marketplace, the first thing you expect is a price tag in the high tends or low hundreds of thousands of pounds, at the very least. Mitsuoka, as part of a wider tapestry of Japanese imports for sale UK does not fit that mould. The cars are affordable and built to last. That’s what makes them perfect for purchase as Japanese imports to the UK.
Mitsuoka: Japan’s Best-Kept Automotive Secret
We’ve mentioned a few times already how small Mitsuoka is compared to Toyota and others, in terms of employees at least. Having said that, it in fact remains Japan’s 10th largest carmaker. So, if Mitsuoka is really so great at producing these hand-crafted, artistically beautiful and unique pieces of automotive engineering, why isn’t Mitsuoka as famous a Japanese brand as luxury hand-crafted motors of the UK like Rolls-Royce?
According to Statista, Rolls-Royce only sold 4,194 units around the world in 2018. The Mitsuoka Viewt alone sold 12,000 units in that same year and yet Rolls-Royce is the one everyone has heard of. What’s the explanation? Well, like so many cars that we in the UK only seem to get to enjoy as JDM import vehicles, the Mitsuoka range was made exclusively for Japan all the way up to 2016.
What changed that? It all happened at the 2015 London Motor Show. Mitsuoka emerged from the international shadow to present to the non-Japanese world the Mitsuoka Himiko. It went down a storm, and was quickly renamed the Mitsuoka Roadster and exported to the UK market. To date it remains the only model available for sale as a new unit within the UK.
Mitsuoka – Premium Japanese Imports UK
Mitsuoka favours the UK market in Europe because they understand, as their founder did, that the British market is appreciative of unique design, quirkiness and interesting twists on otherwise mundane or mass-produced design. The British love character, and Mitsuoka cars have that in spades.
JDM enthusiasts in the UK who want more than just the Roadster that’s on sale new can look to our selection of Mitsuoka cars, including the Viewt, Ryoga and Galue models. As Japanese cars, they are equally well-built for the British driver, with the steering wheels on the right side of the cabin and everything about the dashboard has a familiar feel. Take part in the special character of Mitsuoka cars by exploring our eclectic range today.
Take time to explore our own range of Matsuoka import cars and find a great-value family car that will help you live the strong and innovative message of this great Japanese brand.