Mitsuoka is a car company best described as the automotive equivalent of a Tokyo burger joint. It’s a thoroughly Japanese company that is ultimately quite obsessed with the American aesthetic. The company is now celebrating its 55th anniversary, and it’s put together a very special car for the occasion.
Enter the M55 Concept—a sort of strange neo-modern car with a muscular visage, akin to something you might see in an early-90s anime set in the near future. True to Mitsuoka’s form, it places stunning American styling tropes on an excellent Japanese base. Previously, the company has turned the RAV4 into a Blazer tribute, and the MX-5 into a stunning cover version of the Corvette. Now, it’s turned the eleventh-generation Honda Civic into a fastback that apes the Dodge Challenger.
There are a lot of classic muscle elements here, from the squared-off indents in the hood, to the four round headlights and the blacked-out grille. It’s pure Challenger, right down to the lip spoiler. The louvers on the rear are a further nod to the 1960s, while the rear end also gets a subtle little ducktail spoiler, too. The tail lights are a particular treat, with their rounded and simple form a salve in a modern world full of jagged, angular designs.
Inside, Mitsuoka has blessed the concept with an eye-catching set of seats in a rich blue leather, and riveted for a sense of purpose. In perhaps the model’s sole aesthetic flaw, there’s an ungainly square “Mitsuoka” badge on the wheel filling in for where Honda’s H would usually go. The rest of the build is exquisite, but that’s a touch of a letdown. The wheels are also a touch too petite, but the sporty design and white-lettered Michelins nonetheless look the part.
Mitsuoka has never really been a company that has built cars to crow about performance. Instead, it’s all about the style. Thus, underneath, the car is still just a Honda Civic. That means it’s front-wheel-drive with good fuel economy and quality handling.
That might sound disappointing, but for Mitsuoka, this ethos has worked for a long time. In a way, it makes sense. A Honda Civic is far more practical to drive around Japan than a full-fat Dodge Challenger, especially when you think about fuel. Thus, what to do for the eager enthusiast who wants American style in a car that suits the homeland? Well, Mitsuoka is there to help.
For now, it’s just a concept, and it’s set to tour Mitsuoka’s Japanese dealerships over the next few months. However, we could easily see something like this entering production if the interest is there. Ultimately, it looks brilliant, like most of Mitsuoka’s work, so here’s hoping the customers bite and Japan gets to see some of these out on the roads someday.