CC Brochure Boggle: 1986 Dodge Michigan—They Sold What, Where?!

This is a still from a Japanese animated movie called Shitī Hantā (“City Hunter”). The alarmed-looking character we see here is in the back seat of a…ruh…what is that? It’s got a Pentastar and a “Michigan” badge, and it looks quite a lot like…

…Sacred poo, it is a K-car! A 1986 Dodge Michigan:

The cars are left-drive, which is not surprising since left-hooker cars are an entirely legal status symbol in Japan.

Here we see Lakes Michigan, Huron, and Superior in cameo appearances as oil leaks. Also: turn signal repeaters in the typical Japanese location near the front of the fender, large pivot-mounted sideview mirrors instead of the domestic-market small rigidly-mounted ones, a rear-discharge tailpipe, and very busy taillights that look as though grafted in off a similar-year Mitsubishi (though clearly they were actually built specifically for this car).

Inside, there’s a hosey aftermarket-kit style install of what appears to be a DIN-sized radio set in place of the taller Chrysler-sized unit. Japanese FM radio stations are on even-decimal frequencies like 100.2 rather than the odd ones used in North America like 100.3. I don’t spot much else unusual here, do you?

Those prices in the lower left corner of the first brochure page bear some attention. When these were first –sold– offered in Japan, the price equated to about $11k in 1985 Dollars, about 40% more than in the States. That’s about $28k in 2020 Dollars. By the end of the offering, the Dollar/Yen exchange had nearly doubled the price to over $21k in 1987 dollars (about 2.6× the US price, and equal to about $49k today). For that reason amongst others, I have great difficulty imagining more than about three of these were bought in Japan, perhaps one for each of the 1985, ’86, and ’87 model years.

But maybe I’m wrong, so in lieu of the bat signal I shine a Pentastar and letter “K” in the sky, hoping Tatra87 will swing into action and find one of these to photograph (T87, see if you can find a Fifth Avenue, too, willya? All we can see in the brochure pic here is a sliver of the front end, and I’d like to see what sort of taillight adaptations they had in Japan).

At least one part of the Dodge Michigan was local; those plastichrome name badges Chrysler installed on everything they built from about ’84 to ’95 were made in Japan. It’s inexplicable, but for some strange reason that wasn’t on Iacocca’s laundry list of gripes about the Japanese, and I also don’t recall him complaining very much about the rust-resistant steel he bought in great volume from them. Pay no attention to the cigar-chomping man behind the curtain, I guess, and if you can find a better plastichrome name badge…buy it!

If you want to get your Japanese-animated Japanese K-car freak on, there are many more stills from Shitī Hantā at the movie’s Internet Movie Car Database page, each of which can be clicked for larger.