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The Thursday Five: Five mental Mitsuokas
Some car brands have more successful, attractive and downright excellent models in their history than others. Then there are those who … well don’t.
Small Japanese manufacturer Mitusoka is one of the latter, with a business plan that seems to consist mainly of slapping retro-design noses on Japanese compact cars. This Thursday we celebrate the five ugliest, weirdest and just plain mental Mitsuokas to have ever been scraped off the factory floor.
1. The Viewt
Produced from 1993 to the present day, the Viewt is a Nissan Micra that had a Jaguar Mark II nose grafted on to it.
But the horror doesn’t stop at the nose - Mitsuoka also replaces the rear hatch with a fixed window and … a boot. Inside the Viewt wood trim and leather seats are available, just to complete the job, while a convertible version was also available from 1997.
But possibly the worst aspect of the Viewt was that it was successful enough to encourage Japanese manufacturers to make artificially retro versions of their own vehicles, as well as other small outfits to create equally horrific mutants...
2. The Galue
Produced between 1996 and 2014, the Galue is actually a range of cars that shared the same “styling” yet were based on different donor cars.
The Galue-I was based on the mid-size Nissan Crew sedan, while the Galue-II was based on the large Nissan Cedric. The Galue-III was based on the Nissan Fuga, the Galue 204 was based on the Toyota Corolla and, just to keep things interesting, the Galue convertible was based on the Ford Mustang.
So, a few large and medium Japanese sedans, a small hatch and an American muscle car all got cursed with the same overly-chromed, bug-eyed Bentley styling. That makes sense. No really, it does!
3. The MC-1
One of the few original vehicles made by Mitsuoka, the MC-1 was built between 1998 and 2007 and is described by the company as the “Microcar for your life”
Everyone else would just describe it as a weird-looking deathtrap on wheels.
The MC-1 boasted a mighty 50cc 6hp single-cylinder engine that could propel - well, slowly move - it to a top speed of 50km/h. It lacked a number of things that cars that don’t look like a ghost out of Pacman usually have, such as airbags, a radio, doors and a roof not made of fabric, comfort, dignity and good sense.
The MC-1 was considered particularly unsafe, largely due to its utter lack of basic safety equipment and the fact it was made out of plastic and fabric, but mainly because other drivers couldn’t help but want to run you off the road if you drove one.
4. The Ryoga
Built between 1998 and 2004, the Ryoga was a Nissan Primera - and later a Nissan Sunny - with what appears to be a nose inspired by a cross between a Jaguar and a brain-damaged spider.
Available as a sedan or, just to make it even more badly-proportioned, a wagon, the Ryoga was available in two trim levels - the Deluxe and the Royal, which had slightly better equipment.
The Ryoga was released in a number of special editions, including a Final Model Edition at the end of its production run and the ever-so-disturbingly named Soft Leather Edition, which we really hope is referring to the seats.
5. The Orochi
Of course, no list of Mitsuokas would be complete without the car that is rather famous for being widely considered to be the ugliest car to ever be produced - the mighty Orochi.
Promoted by Mitsuoka as a “Fashion Super Car”, the Orochi boasted neither anything remotely fashionable about it, nor anything approaching super car performance - it’s 3.3-litre Toyota V6 was hooked up to a five-speed slush box and its performance was best described as “leisurely”.
While named after an eight-headed Japanese dragon, the Orochi looked more like a catastrophically retarded goldfish. Oh, and the convertible version was called the “Nude-Top”. We’ll just leave you with that...