CC Capsule: 1998 Mitsuoka Ryoga (P11) Wagon – Lurking From The Deep, It Grins…

It’s February already and we haven’t had a Mitsuoka post yet. Time to trawl down to the abyssal area of JDM oddity and see what creature we can find, eh? Maybe a cute little kei car with fins or a chrome-nosed family hatchback? No, we can’t have anything that tame. We’ll go nuclear (well, certainly fully-fledged mutant) and examine a genuine veteran Ryoga wagon. Deep breath and let’s dive on in.

Our featured fugly fish here is an early model Royga wagon. This species of Mitsuoka appeared in February 1998 in both notchback saloon and wagon guise, based on the Nissan P11 Primera. The Ryoga thus was available with a choice of a 1.8 or a 2-litre 4-cyl., the latter being the famous SR20DE also used on the Silvia.

The P11 Primera left the JDM in January 2001, but Mitsuoka kept modifying used ones on demand until 2007. Simultaneously, they switched to the B15 Sunny for a second generation of the Ryoga, which we’ve had the dubious pleasure of meeting a couple years back. Those B15 Ryogas were made from new cars until the Sunny went out of production in 2005, and then were made from second-hand B15s until 2001. But these second-gen Ryogas were saloon-only; if you wanted the long-roof, it had to be an older Primera-based car.

The whole point of the Ryoga was its Jaguar-on-acid front end. This was especially true of the Primera-based cars, as those barely bothered with Mitsuokizing the rear end. This is particularly the case with the wagons. Aside from a tacked-on chrome bumper (which is missing its overriders in our feature car) and a suspiciously discreet Mitsuoka badge replacing the Nissan roundel, that’s pretty much it.

The same goes for the interior, which I has unable to capture (the benthic conditions did not allow for a clear enough shot of this beast’s insides): nothing was different in there either. All the big development Yen went to that unmistakable mug.

So what’s a Mitsuoka made of, really? It’s 99% Nissan, essentially, and 1% plastic. This one is old enough that the so-called chrome has peeled off the grille, exposing the white plastic underneath. Yuk.

I guess that means we should “enjoy” these Mitsuokas while we have them, because they sure won’t be aging gracefully. “What, a retro-styled car-crash of a facelifted ‘90s Nissan has lost its mojo? Stop the friggin’ press! You astound us, T87.” I hear you shout (I have sensitive ears, and they just started ringing). Yes, yes, who’d have thunk it and all that. But the point is that Mitsuoka were not above the cheap and easy solutions available to them – and to any other body kit maker. Modern-day coachbuilders they are not.

Our feature car was registered before mid-’99, so it was sold new as a Ryoga and is therefore one of the older ones about. Some of the ones out there are a bit younger and probably will keep their plastichrome intact a bit longer, but judging from the aging Mitsuokas I’ve seen so far, things can get pretty nasty around the edges. And these are all about the edges.


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Curbside Classic: 2003 Mitsuoka Ryoga – Mid-Range Madness, by T87