Mitsuoka celebrates 55 years of replicas with Civic-based oddball

by Steven Cole Smith
28 November 2023 2 min read
Mitsuoka celebrates 55 years of replicas with Civic-based oddball
Images Mitsuoka

The website for Mitsuoka, the fanciful Japanese car builder, sums up the history of the modern world and leads off with a philosophy for the company and an explanation of their M55 concept car, loosely translated here:

“For our company, which was founded in 1968, the 1970s was an important era that laid the foundation for today’s business. At that time, there was a torrent of energy within us full of dreams and hopes.

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“The Americanised Japanese identity influences the design of cars. Under the period of high economic growth, the performance of automobiles improved and GT-type cars appeared. The colour television, air conditioner and car, which were called the new three sacred treasures, also became explosively popular. The times were hot and swirling like magma, and culture was at its dawn. We will once again revive the energy filled with dreams and hope, like hot magma that has survived the same era.”

Mitsuoka M55 Challenger Concept exterior side profile

There’s a lot of hot magma there, but we wouldn’t argue that cars, AC, and colour TV aren’t critically important inventions.

Which leads us to the latest hot magma from Mitsuoka, a four-door, Honda Civic-based design that looks like a Dodge Challenger up front, maybe some Toyota Celica and last-generation Dodge Dart on the sides, and a rear that’s all Mitsuoka, cooked up to commemorate the company’s 55th anniversary. The M55 has an appealing look, sort of a flashback to the ‘70s with the louvres on the rear window, but modernised. We’d say it works.

The dashboard is mostly Honda, but the ring-holed seats are an interesting, and not that comfortable-looking, touch. We assume the car has a turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder under the hood and it obviously has a manual transmission, but Mitsuoka isn’t providing much detail. It seems unlikely that the M55 will be produced for sale.

This isn’t the first time we’ve been entertained by a Mitsuoka replica car. There was the Buddy, sort of a Chevrolet Blazer crafted out of a Toyota RAV4. The Buddy followed the 2018 Rock Star, a Corvette lookalike based on the Mazda MX-5. And the company used a Miata to craft a Morgan-looking sports car called the Mitsuoka Roadster.

Mitsuoka M55 Challenger Concept exterior rear three quarter

Long live Mitsuoka and its vivid imagination, which flows like hot magma. “Free ideas and playful minds produce our cars,” Mitsuoka says. Here’s to another 55 years.

Via Hagerty US.

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