Curbside Classic: 2007 Mitsuoka Galue MkIII — Bentley/Cadillac Tribute Band Goes Off Key


They say imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. But where does imitation stop and where does caricature begin? Probably in Japan. If you’ve ever seen a Mitsuoka, you’ll know what I mean. If you haven’t, take a good look at this Galue. Were the guys who designed this taking the piss? Well, they were definitely taking something.


Mitsuoka’s 350 employees have been making very weird cars for two decades in the Western Japanese city of Toyama. It could be said that they are a coachbuilder, as nearly all their cars have been based on other cars, whether it be Nissan, Toyota, Honda, Mazda or even the Ford Mustang. The feature that all Mitsuokas share is gaudy retro styling and high quality craftsmanship. That and the strangest logo ever.


And there are quite a few Mitsuoka models to choose from, both large and small. One I snapped a few weeks ago was this Nissan March-based Viewt saloon. This one is obviously trying to look like a ‘60s Jaguar MkII with some sort of genetic affliction (or possibly hydrocephaly).


Mitsuoka also do sports cars, electric vehicles (based on the Mitsubishi i-MiEV) and microcars. But they have always excelled, if that’s the term I want (it isn’t), in making their bigger cars look the silliest. This third generation Galue I found this week is a case in point. The Galue range has been a mainstay of Mitsuoka’s production since they officially registered as an automaker in 1996.


Previous generations were based on the Nissan Crew (1996-2001, as above) and the Y34 Cedric. This third generation was based on the 2005 Nissan Y50 Fuga (a.k.a. Infiniti M35/45), so it’s a RWD affair powered by a choice of a 2.5 and 3.5 litre V6 with a 5-speed auto.


Even the badges on this car are outlandish. At first, I thought it spelled “Galut”. Not that “Galue” is any better… I’m not sure whether it means anything in Japanese. It certainly sounds as strange as the car looks though.


It’s difficult to find a good angle on this thing. The rear clip has a definite Cadillac look, but in a comedic way. The trunk’s bizarre shape makes the Caddy-like fins stand out more, though it can’t be too good for luggage space.


The front end is dominated by a massive chromed grille straight out of a Bentley designer’s nightmare. The round headlights, set deep within chromed bezels and well inboard, looking a bit like a 1935 Hupmobile with a thyroid problem. The rounded front fenders envelop the whole thing like an obese man’s belly sticking out of a pair of jeans. This is the Japanese automotive equivalent of Jeremy Clarkson.


How about that hood ornament? Again, we venture into Cadillac territory, albeit with a dose of Mercedes-Benz, just to err on the side of bad taste. Mitsuokas are not common even in their home country, but I have seen a few there, as well as in Bangkok, Hong Kong and here in Yangon. I understand they have a following in Malaysia and Indonesia as well, so it seems they strike a chord with Asian tastes. I wonder if any ever get shipped to the Middle-East. After all, they used to buy Stutzes and other over-the-top vehicles in that part of the world. Have any reached the shores of Australia, New Zealand or even Europe? It seems the Mitsuoka Himiko roadster, which looks like a fugly Morgan, is imported in the UK…


Perhaps the least jarring viewpoint is the side. Here, the Mitsuoka’s Nissan roots really come out clearly. At least, that’s what one feels until the eye hits the left of the photo and the bulging fender / vertical grille combo. Not exactly blending in with the rest of the car.


This car had dark glass, so I could not photograph the interior. Here’s a shot I found on the web from a 2005 model. Not too shabby. And the one really good thing about being a passenger inside a Mitsuoka, of course, is that you don’t have to suffer its exterior.


The MkIII Galue seems to have been made from 2005 to 2009 and Mitsuoka is now on the fifth generation. (As I do not know what year this one was, I just picked the middle of the production run.) There is also a two-door convertible, and in 2009 Mitsuoka proudly unveiled a stretched limo version. I’ve even seen a Galue hearse while researching this post. Beware, Toyota Century! Your days are numbered…


It’s one thing to bemoan the blandness of today’s automobiles, but it’s another thing to dip a Nissan in chrome, stick fins and googly eyes on it and call it a luxury car. Sayonara, then, Mitsuoka Galue. We hardly knew ye, and we wish to keep it that way.


Related CC Post:

Mitsuoka Le Seyde: The Compact Zimmer, by Paul Niedermeyer