It’s been a while since we haven’t had a Mitsuoka sedan on CC. I’ve been one of the main purveyors of these fascinating machines on this website, to the eternal chagrin of many retinas. I’m afraid it’s going to continue, as I am now strategically located in Mitsuokaland, which I’m proposing to use as a new name for Japan.
OK, my sensible side is arguing, with some merit, that it’s not really up to me to rename countries and that Mitsuoka-land is probably not going to be a popular option for the many citizens of Japan who do not own a Mitsuoka. Damn that sensible side, he’s always right and so damn … sensible. But where is Mitsuoka’s sensible side? The front? The rear? Nope. Nothing sensible about these at all.
Well, seeing as this is a 1st series Galue (1996-2001), I think there might be a way to argue that it’s the most sensible Galue. It’s a bit like being the tallest midget, sure, but have you seen the later Galues? I caught a couple a while back. Challenging to say the least. We’re currently on Series V of the Galue and the situation has not improved one jot. They just keep getting bigger and uglier.
By comparison, this early model is relatively tame and not too bulky. As well it should be: whereas subsequent Galues were based on the Nissan Cedric/Gloria Y34 (Galue II), the Nissan Fuga (Galue III) and the Teana (Galues IV and V), this initial one was based on the lowly Nissan Crew K30. (By the way, just to confuse the enemy, Mitsuoka also made a small Galue, the 2-04, based on the Toyota Corolla from 2008 to 2012.)
And what is a Nissan Crew? Well, it’s like the basic Toyota Crown Comfort, only more so. It’s the marriage of a Cedric/Gloria Y31 saloon with a C32 Laurel’s front end, with the RB20E (2-litre straight-6) still inside, mated to 5-speed manual (or 4-speed auto) sending all of 129 hp back to a coil-sprung live axle. These were mainly for the taxi trade, as well as local police forces and driving schools, but from 1994 to 2002, the Crew was also available for the general public. Hyper-conservative septuagenarians were the main intended clientele, but some Crews have had a second life as souped-up driftmobiles, due to their simplicity, rear-wheel-drive and solidity.
Mitsuoka saw this toothless dinosaur of a car and did what they do best: a trowelful of chrome here and there, Caddy-like lights out back and “wood” on the dash (but no leather, please) and Bob’s your uncle, the Galue was launched in 1996. It seems Mitsuoka didn’t bother changing the steering wheel, which still says Nissan. It’s a bit of an oversight, if you ask me. If you’re going to plant a massive Bentley grille and chrome bumpers on a taxi, you might as well sign your work inside as well.
It’s not exactly understated, but it’s definitely not the worst offence Mitsuoka have committed upon the automotive world. And with its upright formality, straight-6 and 4-speed slushbox, this Galue is at least in the same philosophical ball-park as the ‘50s Bentley it is amusingly trying to emulate. It’s not the ideal candidate for the Tokyo drift crowd, but I’m tempted to let this one slide.