You’ll be familiar with Mitsuoka. Somewhere between building the world’s ugliest sports car and turning the third-gen Mazda MX-5 into a sort of art-deco Cruella DeVil cartoon, the upstart Japanese coachbuilders became one of our favourite corners of Japanese car culture. You just never know what they’re going to do next.
Turns out, this is what Mitsuoka does next. Welcome to the superbly named Mitsuoka Rock Star. Turns out you can have a Nickelback association and still be a bit cool.
The Rock Star is based on the current ‘ND’-gen Mazda MX-5 Miata. A car we at Top Gear like very much, even in basic 1.5-litre guise. But if it looks a tad cutesy for you, the Rock Star sorts that with a healthy dollop of good ol’ Americana.
Yep, the Rock Star has been designed to ape the look at the classic Corvette C2, one of the most enduringly correct pieces of ‘Murican car styling ever. By fabricating miniature versions of its chrome-festooned face and backside, bulbous front wings and even a gnarlier vented bonnet, Mitsuoka’s created a pretty faithful Corvette work of art. Only the doors and windscreen appear to have survived from the donor car.
Oh, and the entire interior. Save for a Mitsuoka badge where the Mazda logo once lived, the Rock Star is completely MX-5 inside. We’d hoped for more garish leather, burnished chrome and a Bakelite steering wheel, but surely the aftermarket can supply such accessories.
Underneath, this mini-muscle car is based not on the 182bhp 2.0-litre MX-5, but its more humble 1.5-litre sibling, delivering just 130bhp. The pictures worryingly show an automatic gearbox. Sacrilege – the manual is world class. The six-speed stick-shift is standard though, and keeps the price down to around £31k, before options.
That’s a chunk cheaper than the Mitsuoka Roadster, which asked a barmy £54,000 for its stretched baroque looks. Never has a Rock Star been more of a bargain. Where do we sign?