Japanese concept cars are often very strange and often pure flights of fancy. Here is one that sits on the right side of the line separating odd from interesting.
The 2005 Mitsubishi D:5 (for Delica generation 5) appeared at the Tokyo motor show of that year. It represented a contemporary take on the Delica 4×4 vans that Mitsibishi sold. These little vehicles serve as tradesmen’s mobile tool-boxes and, when outfitted, as small camper vans. The utilitarian roots generally trump the needs of aesthetics. For the 2005 Concept, the vehicle is styled to look functional and recalls some of the rufty-tufty shapes Ford produced for their trucks a little earlier in the decade.
This car deserves praise for the tremendous discipline of the graphics and relationship of parts to the volumes they enclose. It’s very much a product-designer’s sort of shape. As ever we can shed a small tear it never went near production in this form. Of course Mitsubishi know their customers (or do they) and they either saw no demand or didn’t have the money to invest in such a model.
I think it would have been, as shown. a long-term cult seller as a package like this has a ready audience and the style didn’t need re-styling. A decade on this car is still ready for production exactly as it is. Good product design seems to be essentially timeless. Notice the nice way the side-glass is recessed. Is that not redolent of VW’s Up?
For comparison: look at the Ford C-Max’s surface treatment.
Here is the disappointing production version:
The production design lacks all the graphic directness of the concept. It loses the clear expression of the distinction between the bodyside and the centre sections. It goes wrong from the A-pillar forward. On the concept car there’s a clear line all the way around the body side. On the production car this line is lost in the confusion of the lamps and bonnet. Ford was really close to the same idea with C-Max but evidently didn’t want to go for it.