CC has looked at several models from Japanese niche manufacturer Mitsuoka. For those unfamiliar with the company, they make custom bodies that go over an existing OEM shell, which they then market and sell. Engines and interior mostly carry over from the donor model. Though not all, a majority of their offerings follow a retro theme and mirror older designs, mostly from the UK. Their newest model the Rock Star, however, obviously draws inspiration from one of the colonies.
Mitsuoka was founded in Feb 1968 as a repair garage, formally established as a manufacturer in 1979, and its first model came out in 1982 – the “Bubu.” What’s a Bubu? Well, think of it as the Japanese equivalent to the British Peel P50, a one-seater micro car with a 50 cc engine.
Company founder Susumu Mitsuoka had higher ambitions though, and broadened the line-up with larger models. Their most well-known is perhaps the “Viewt”, a half scale Jaguar Mk II look-alike that resides over Nissan March running gear.
Their current line-up is composed of seven different models and includes underpinnings from Mazda, Nissan, and Toyota – the Rock Star was introduced last Nov.
As you might be able to discern, the donor car in this instance is a new Miata/MX-5, with the JDM model’s normally aspirated 1.5 liter SkyActiv four cylinder. Average Rock Stars sticker at $46K, quite a bit more than a Miata/MX-5 which starts around $26K. However, reviewers note that craftsmanship is very high, as most are hand-assembled. As a result, total production of all Mitsuoka models is only around 1,000 units a year.
If you live in Japan, and a C2 Corvette is just too hard to get or too expensive, there’s an alternative available if you’re willing to scale down your expectations…