Quirky coachbuilder Mitsuoka has turned a Mazda MX-5 into a Chevrolet Corvette, among other surprising feats, and for its next act it’s turning a Honda Civic into an American muscle car – well, visually.

    The Japanese firm has a long history of giving workaday Japanese cars neoclassical makeovers, with humble Nissan Micras and Toyota Corollas getting stylistic affectations to make them look like 1960s Jaguars and old Bentleys.

    It has been on an American tear lately, however, with the MX-5-based Rock Star followed by the Toyota RAV4-based Buddy – featuring a pastiche of 1970s American design cues – and now this M55, called a concept for now.

    Mitsuoka hasn’t released much information on the M55 concept, which celebrates 55 years of the coachbuilder, though we expect like most of its products there will be no mechanical changes.

    That likely means the same turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine from the Civic sits under the bonnet.

    As is typical from the brand, interior changes are minimal, too, though there’s blue leather upholstery with unusual metal eyelets that must be a lot of fun on a hot day.

    The major changes have occurred on the exterior.

    Where do we start? There’s the front end styling, which pays homage quite blatantly to the Dodge Challenger with four round headlights and a slim black grille.

    Mitsuoka says the 1970s was an important era for it – it was only founded in 1968, after all – thus explaining the tribute to the original 1970-74 Challenger.

    The ’70s design cues don’t end there. The black plastic louvres and raised-letter tyres are throwback touches, while there are new, rounder tail lights down back separated by a black trim piece – shades of 1970s Nissan Skylines and Plymouth Barracudas, perhaps?

    Beyond the redesigned front and rear ends, however, the M55’s Civic origins are all too apparent. This is also typical of Mitsuoka products.

    Mitsuoka hasn’t announced plans to put it into production, though it will be showcasing the concept at its Azabu and Toyama showrooms until the end of January 2024.

    William Stopford

    William Stopford is an automotive journalist based in Brisbane, Australia. William is a Business/Journalism graduate from the Queensland University of Technology who loves to travel, briefly lived in the US, and has a particular interest in the American car industry.

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