By Steve & Tamami Laser
As we previously reported, Mitsuoka Motors, Japan’s boutique automaker, is shaking things up in a big way with the new Rock Star retro-style roadster. Customers in Japan can place their orders starting today for the very limited production model that merges second-generation Corvette-inspired styling with a current Japanese market Mazda Roadster (MX-5 Miata).
Mitsuoka plans to build just 200 units of the car over the next three years. Deliveries are currently set to begin in June 2019 with 50 of the hand-built roadsters scheduled for the year. Mitsuoka says production of the remaining 150 cars will be split between 2020 and 2021.
Built to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the company, the concept for Rock Star is “Rebel x Stylish x Fun.” Mitsuoka typically produces cars that evoke European classics by applying Jaguar-esque front and rear styling to donor Nissan and Toyota sedans and wagons. Another model, dubbed Himiko, transforms a Mazda Roadster into a stretched Euro-style neo-classic.
Mitsuoka was founded in 1968 by Susumu Mitsuoka. Other models in the current lineup include the Viewt (based on the Nissan March), Ryugi Sedan (aka Toyota Corolla Axio), Ryugi Wagon (Corolla Fielder), and Galue (Nissan Teana).
Mitsuoka has done a remarkable job transforming the standard wheelbase Mazda into a mini-Vette. We like the chrome bumpers, beefy fenders, round taillights, and other details. We’re not crazy about the small, round headlights, and wish pop-up lighting clusters, like the C2 Vette’s, could have been fabricated.
The two-seat interior has been lightly modified from the production Mazda Roadster with touches including specially trimmed bucket seats with the Mitsuoka logo embroidered on the headrests and applied to the center cap of the steering wheel.
A long list of options includes leather-trimmed seats, instrument panel, and door trim, leather-wrapped steering wheel, shift knob and parking brake, upper door trim in six different colors, and multimedia upgrades including navigation and Bose® sound system.
Rock Star employs the Mazda Roadster’s running gear with a SKYACTIV-G 1.5-liter DOHC direct-injected 4-cylinder engine rated at 97 kW (132 PS) and 152 Nm (15.5 kgfm) of torque teamed with a 6-speed manual gearbox, or 6-speed electronically controlled automatic.
While we would love to have a Rock Star in our garage, export plans have not been announced. (The donor Mazda is a right-hand-drive Japanese market model and the production run is limited.)
The company builds (or remanufactures) vehicles largely by hand, on donor platforms, at its plant in Toyama City. Mitsuoka has showrooms located throughout Japan including Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagoya, and Fukuoka, while its separate “Bubu” dealer network imports and sells a variety of American and European brand vehicles.
Note: Models, features, specifications and production plans apply to Japanese market vehicles and are subject to change without notice.
News source and photos courtesy of Mitsuoka Motor Co., Ltd.
Story (commentary) © 2018 CarNichiWa.com