When it comes to creating weird vehicles that even make vintage Rinspeed vehicles look tame, no company can beat the folks at Mitsuoka Motors. This small Japanese car company has a long history of grafting unique bodywork onto existing models, and it has unveiled its latest creation, the Himiko roadster.
Like other Mitsuoka models, the Himiko is based on a current production model, in this case the Mazda MX-5. Unlike the standard MX-5 which looks at home in a Japanese manga series, the Himiko goes for a decidedly more retro presentation, and the end result is a distinctive, albeit love it or hate it affair. The Himiko embraces the classic long hood short rear deck layout, and it can be said that aesthetic inspiration for the designers was derived from vintage British roadsters. There is a healthy amount of Jaguar Xk120 in its DNA, as well as cues from the Morgan Plus 4, and even the MG T-Series.
Unlike those models however, Mitsuoka's interpretation of vintage includes some weird features that certainly make the Himiko stand out from the rest of the roadster ranks. For instance, sections of the front fascia, fenders, and trunk are finished in satin black, yet they completely contrast with the red paint featured (other colors are available,) and also add an unnecessary touch of modernism onto what should be a retro themed canvas. While we're at it, the chrome accenting on the lower front clip looks too tacked on for our tastes.
The interior of the Himiko should look familiar to Fiat 124 Spider owners, with Mitsuoka doing even more blatant rebadging of the clearly MX-5 cribbed cabin than its distant Italian relative. Mazda's infotainment system is still placed on top of the dashboard, and some of the MX-5's modern convenience features also remain including blind spot monitoring, and lane departure warning. We will give Mitsuoka a bit of credit for tweaking the seat upholstery, as well as adding what appears to be Alcantara to the steering wheel and the dashboard. Mitsuoka claims that the Himiko is "a beautiful assassin" but we will reserve our judgement until we have a chance to drive the car in either its home Japanese market, or in the event one slips into the U.S.
Despite stretching the length of the car to 180.0 inches (up from the normal MX-5's 154.1 inch length,) the company (perhaps mercifully) chose to not change any of the mechanical hardware that makes the MX-5 a joy to drive. This means that power comes from the familiar 1.5 liter naturally aspirated four cylinder thats good for 129 horsepower and 11 lb-ft of torque. Buyers can opt for either a standard six speed manual gearbox, or an optional six speed automatic.
Like other Mitsuoka offerings, the Himiko will most likely be exclusive to Japan with no plans for a U.S. introduction anytime soon. This is due to the vast differences between Japanese and U.S. regulations which would have forced Mitsuoka to invest unnecessary amounts of capital into making a U.S. friendly offering. However, the Himiko could make its way to Great Britain, where it would be a follow up to a similar vehicle the company offered back in 2015 dubbed the Mitsuoka Roadster.