What is it?
The most extraordinary car you’ve never heard of. With its jaw-dropping shape, the Mitsuoka Orochi is the dream project of Mitsuoka Motors, Japan’s top replica maker.
More recently, the Mitsuoka Roadster has been launched in the UK and uses Mazda MX-5 underpinnings.
The super-wide, super-low and super er, bold, Orochi first appeared as a concept at the 2001 Tokyo motor show.
Only now has made it to market with modest Toyota V6 power and Mitsuoka’s very own spaceframe mid-engined chassis lurking beneath that distinctly swoopy, sinister fibre-reinforced plastic shell that looks like it was modelled on a boa constrictor.
What's it like?
Just look at it. While some will love those mad curves, scoops and bulges, just as many (and more, probably) will run for the hills. Drive it in Japan, however, and out come the smiles, thumbs up and camera phones. Many actually have a soft spot for Mitsuoka and its wacky cars.
So how fast does it go, mister? Well, not as fast as its styling suggests. The Orochi is not about power, speed and apex-clipping handling prowess. It’s for those wowed by its swoopiness but who are not overly bothered by dynamics.
The 3.3-litre Toyota V6 is smooth, workmanlike and chosen specifically for its ordinariness. A five-speed auto (Toyota’s again) is standard.
On paper, the mid-engined layout, all-round double wishbones and four ventilated discs could have come out of a Honda NSX parts bin, so Mitsuoka should get some credit for engineering all of that on its own.
Trouble is, the Orochi is portly and soft, doesn’t handle very well, has mushy brakes and isn’t that fast. But some bits of the Orochi – the body stiffness, finish (especially inside that exotic leather-embossed cabin), seating and packaging – are really not so bad at all. Yes, really…