Balls to the Bronco, Da svisdania Defender. There’s a new friend in town…
“Hey you! Don’t watch that, watch this. For this is the heavy, heavy monster sound.” So goes the introduction to the 1979 Madness song to which the title refers. “The nuttiest sound around” is shouted, followed by the saxophonist’s opening account as the tune then explodes into your eardrums. It’s enough to make your feet get busy.
With research limited to that internet, one cannot say whether the Ska sound from the early eighties had any impact upon the results here or if stronger substances were involved. But those imps at Mitsuoka have produced something astonishing – a likeable, honest SUV. Yes, you read that correctly, but one has to admit when these eyes first laid into the Mitsuoka Buddy, driving any form of vehicle was far from my (addled) mind.
Once judge-like sober after several hours slumber, and gathering my thoughts, I returned to the Japanese coachbuilders who in the recent past have brought us such delights as the (not Rolls-Royce) Galue, the (not Jaguar Mk2) Viewt along with the irrepressible yet impossible to ignore, Orochi, Mitsuoka have returned to us with the Buddy.
Mark the 26th November in your diaries now – the unveiling date for the world to look upon. Mitsuoka have not engineered the whole vehicle of course. But they have chosen wisely; underneath that retro bodywork, more on that momentarily, is the Toyota RAV4. Whilst Aichi’s large selling and faithful four wheel drive resembles something that could quite easily have erupted from Mitsuoka’s own back catalogue, (dumpy, ugly) the Toyama City based creatives have used the Chevrolet KS Blazer, which ran from 1969-94 as inspiration for their Buddy.
GM, by recent chance have also decided to update the Blazer into a generic looking blob. One hopes Photoshop hasn’t been applied here. Daniel…? The Chevy remained a two door truck, the Buddy liberating shoving seats forward by simply adding two more doors. Makes reaching for that beach ball or six pack far easier, doncha think?
Aided by Google Translate (other online translation tools are available), this from Mitsuoka’s website concerning design:
“Buddy who was always with me
No matter how much you remove the squirrel
The night you talk to your friends
Take me on a trip without saying anything
On a broken day, he wrapped me up with kindness
Dear woman Fun companion
It’s an irreplaceable time
Buddy If you notice, you always smile by your side
I can’t be a glorious man
I feel like I’m used to a good Daddy
Because I was the best in my life
From now on, play with the children
Buddy’s best companion
Buddy Come on, my partner”
Far from poking fun, I genuinely see a vehicle that at least looks and sounds interesting in its own inimitable way. Sadly they’ll be no V8, just Toyota’s standard fare but at least you know it’ll get you from your apartment to the beach or mountains and back with nothing more required than a quick recharge of either fossil fuel or electricity, depending on your choice of motive power.
The acres of chrome whilst adding heft to that front end lend the Buddy a friendly face. Paint your wagon Fury Yellow over white roof with chunky tyres (adorned with white embossed BF Goodrich name) and I’m (almost) sold. Although the monotone Deep Purple could give Ted the Mechanic something to sing about.
In fact, most of the offered hues have jolly monikers: Grange Denim Blue, MJ Black Mica (Madness, Japan?), Beach Beige, Star Orange and a definitive throwback with 80’s Mint. This appears to these eyes at least, a vehicle not strangled by being colour specific, but one which looks good in any given shade. My word, this new ale is strong…
To the rear, the RAV4 norm has been barged aside by Jeep-aping vertical light clusters, more chrome in the bumper bar and the M I T S U O K A nomenclature. C’mon, this is NOT offensive.
Mitsuoka have yet to invite us inside their Buddy, though it is reasonable to expect an interior with more flair than their more illustrious neighbours offer. Maybe some teak panelling, contrasting piped leather though doubts remain to the vehicles hose down capacity for those leaning towards activities sporting or indeed, utilitarian. For sure, expect the unexpected with Mitsuoka.
Which garners hearty applause from this observer, for one. Doubtful though the opportunity to pop down to your local Toyota dealer to place an order. Mitsuoka have yet to offer the wider world a chance of sampling a Buddy. Which is rather a shame, even allowing that we have no need for yet another amorphous blob of metal filling up our already heavily impacted road space.
But if we are all headed towards vehicles that are obscenely large yet conform to current emissions by prodigious use of clever technology, why not make such cars fun? Easy as child’s play to apportion blame squarely at Mitsuoka’s angled wheel arches for jumping on the bandwagon, there is currently precious little from any manufacturer that positively shouts from its black railed rooftops, “I may not be in the first flush of youth but by George I’m gonna enjoy myself.”
Although personally omitting the leaping due to dodgy knees. At this current moment in time, when we need to ingest any form of colourful ideas to lighten the mood, you could do worse than a Mitsuoka Buddy. All that’s left undone is to don a pork pie hat, practice some staggered dancing and get in rhythm with that saxophonist; Madness…