Have you always wanted a classic Stingray Corvette but with the proportions, performance and Lilliputian interior of a modern Miata? Mitsuoka, Japan's leading producer of fish-shaped automobiles, now offers just such a car.

Dubbed the Mitsuoka Rock Star, the Miata-based roadster is reskinned front to back but keeps the windshield and A-pillar, as well as the Mazda's modest wheelbase. Don't look for a V8 underhood -- it would weigh as much as the car -- so a 1.5-liter four-cylinder churns out 129 hp and 111 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual is available with this engine, so it'll give one some semblance of a classic Corvette experience; an automatic is on the menu as well. Five-spoke retro-styled wheels are also offered to give the Rock Star a more "period-correct" look, though we're not sure they correspond to the C2 period, per se.

Overall, the car has the look of a knockoff Hot Wheels car produced in an unlicensed factory in 1980s Macau or Malaysia, the kind you could encounter in very bogus packaging in Eastern Europe: It gets the overall shape right, but the details and scale wander freely throughout the car. As a result, it looks like a C2 Corvette produced by one of those fly-by-night 1:64-scale diecast manufacturers, but scaled up to real size. And just like on a diecast car, the headlights do not rotate as they should. Instead, you get small, round headlights attached kind of where the headlights would be.

The Rock Star will be offered in six colors: Chicago red, Los Angeles blue, Washington white, Arizona yellow, New York black and Cisco orange. (Where is the state of Cisco, by the way?)

The price for looking like a C2 Corvette-driving rock star from 500 yards away? In Japan, the model starts at around $41,600, which is a healthy premium over a base Miata, badged Roadster back home, but not exorbitant as it doesn't actually double the price of a Miata. Mitsuoka plans to build just 50 examples, a number that we suspect corresponds exactly to the demand for this sort of thing in Japan.

Don't get in line just yet if you already have a Miata you would like to see turned into ... something resembling a Stingray: The Rock Star supplied from Mitsuoka won't be registrable in the States, but shipping one over to Japan for a conversion could, we believe, be accomplished with some work due to fairly permissive kit and self-made car laws in the U.S. After all, it is just bodywork. (This is not a dare.)

Source: Autoweek

October 11, 2018