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Hagerty Employee

Mitsuoka madness pays off: Buddy retro SUV sells out

For decades, Japan’s Mitsuoka has been turning out quirky classic-looking custom cars based on unlikely underpinnings. Now its Buddy, a wannabe Blazer built on a Toyota RAV4, has become a surprise best-seller, with production sold out for two years.


With its massive chrome grille, stacked headlights, vertical tail lamps, and classic ri, the Buddy bares hardy any resemblance to the Toyota underneath. It became an instant hit, with 200 cars sold in just four days. Despite costing around $45,000, it evokes memories of late-1960s Blazers and Broncos, but with the steadfast reliability of a RAV4 and fans flocked to buy it.


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What do I think? It depends on how well built they are. I saw too many American cars turned into "classics" with big zoomy fenders and flex-tube exhaust pipes, and none of them were very well made. They looked OK, but put one on a lift, and.........RUN!