Founded by Yataro Iwasaki in 1870, what was then named Mitsubishi Shokai would eventually grow into one of the largest and most diverse companies in Asia. Shipbuilding was the company’s initial field of business but, as time went by, diversification took place into activities such as mining of coal and precious metals, insurance, banking, aircraft production, real estate and, of course, automobiles.
The name Mitsubishi is made up of two words: ‘Mitsu’ meaning three in Japanese, and ‘Hishi’ which is a species of water chestnut. When these two words are combined, the ‘h’ of hishi is pronounced in Japanese as a ‘b’, hence Mitsubishi. The logo of the company was chosen by Yataro Iwasaki himself and combined the triple crest of the coat of arms belonging to the Tosa clan, Iwasaki’s ruler and employer before the Meiji restoration(1), and the Iwasaki family sign, which was three stacked diamond shapes. Continue reading “Hercules’ Celestial Steed”
Blowing the dust off another set of rediscovered envelopes and their contents, rekindling some memories.
Project 2758, as the Mercedes-Benz 500E was known internally at Porsche AG, who partly built the car, was a ‘Q-car’ in the vein of the BMW M5 but, this being Stuttgart, the 500E presented itself in an even more discreet way than Munich’s autobahnstormer.
The 5-litre, 32-valve M119 V8 propelled the 500E to an electronically limited maximum speed of 250km/h (155mph) although, without the limiter, its terminal velocity was known to have been quite a bit higher. The 500E was strictly a four-seater, which was not entirely by choice: the differential needed was so large that there was no room left for any suspension or even padding in the middle of the rear seat area. Continue reading “Show and Tell (Part Six)”
In the first few days of January 1998, Mitsubishi revealed their first ever American designed and fabricated vehicle at the Chicago motor show. With a styling theme described as Geo-Mechanical, this muscular looking brute showcased not only a study of future potential but also the trajectory Japanese/American market appeared then to be following. Solid in stance, the SST (Sophisticated Sports Touring) roadster bristled with confidence with its acid lemon colour scheme, side strakes, singular central exhaust and independent suspension. The engine remained the two litre and good for 210 bhp but the transmission had become automatic.
Depending on one’s viewpoint, celestial eclipses can be viewed as either a beautiful or foreboding event. They are a covering shadow, something which could easily be applied as a metaphor for this Japanese born motor car, produced in the USA. A further metaphor: In 1764, an English race horse named Eclipse hacked up (comfortably winning in racing parlance) 18 races in 17 months. Owing to his winning ways, competing racehorse owners would refuse to Continue reading “Equus Celestial – Part One”
In the early eighties, long before both companies would find cover under the FCA and Stellantis corporate umbrellas, Chrysler and Maserati hatched plans for a luxury convertible to revive their tarnished prestige image. The two driving forces behind the venture were Lee Iacocca, the ex-Ford executive who had nursed Chrysler back from the dead a few years previously, and Alejandro de Tomaso, who at that time ran not only the sports car company that bore his name but also Maserati. He had taken the latter company over in 1976 with Italian government assistance after Citroën had bowed out. This would not, however, be Iacocca and de Tomaso’s first collaboration: in the early seventies the two had brought the De Tomaso Pantera to the USA(1).
Following coolly on the heels of the first article in this occasional-to-the-point-of-random series, we look back at another rare but strangely appealing car which was imported in relatively low volumes into the UK, thanks to the quaint-sounding ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ with Japan.
It interests me, how certain things or events prove to be memorable, and not others. When these things or events were in the present, did I realise then that they would still figure strongly in my memory now? What is it that buries some things forever in the abyss of the mind, and yet somehow others, possibly more trivial stay for longer? Answer: Continue reading “So Glad They Bothered: 1984 Mitsubishi Galant”
The fine art of badge-engineering – Franco-Japanese style.
Just as Karl had given life to the patentwagen in 1886, the emergent car industry’s Frankenstein-like adoration brought ever newer machines to market. In turn, ideas became distilled, since begging borrowing or stealing ideas was easier than inventing something from scratch. Financial incentives greased wheels leading to similar, if not identical machines wearing different badges; nothing new under the sun.
Concurrently, French composer, Erik Satie experimented to form three pieces for piano, sharing a common structure and theme. Possibly evolved from the French version of the Greek phrase, gymnopaedia, an annual festival where young men would Continue reading “Trois Gymnopédies”
Even heavy industry must have its more elegant moments.
When Mitsubishi first ordained their flagship they chose a name deemed most apt for their creation. The dictionary offers a definition of confident, dignified and refined: welcome to the stylish, yet formal environs of the Debonair.
Japan in the early 1960’s began riding the crest of an economic wave and Mitsubishi were keen on getting ahead in the larger car stakes. Feasibility studies concerning the contemporary Fiat 1800 ultimately led to them ploughing their own furrow. Should your optics mark this as an early Lincoln Continental facsimile, you might be forgiven. German born, former-GM designer, Hans Bretzner openly admitted to using Elwood Engel’s 1961 design as inspiration, subtly imbuing Japanese characteristics such as squared-off solidity, along with amounts of wheel arch entasis for that refined air.
Mitsubishi Motors is a fading presence in the European automotive landscape and could soon be consigned to history. DTW remembers better times for the marque and surveys its current state.
Since the turn of the millennium, Mitsubishi Motors’ European sales have been in slow, if erratic, long-term decline. The high point was reached in 1999, when Mitsubishi sold a total of 205,009(1) vehicles and achieved a market share of 1.34%. In 2019, the comparative figures were 144,670 and 0.92%. The decline would have been more precipitous had it not been for the L200 pick-up truck, which has since 1978 been the bedrock of the company’s sales, and the 2012 Outlander PHEV, which carved a distinctive niche for itself as the first plug-in hybrid SUV.
Over the past two decades, the company has been rocked by two major scandals. The first broke in 2004, when it was revealed that Mitsubishi had been covering up vehicle defects including failing clutches and brakes and leaking fuel lines, refusing to issue recalls for these systemic problems. The company was forced to recall and rectify over 160,000 vehicles, forcing Mitsubishi group companies to Continue reading “A Long Goodbye”
In more innocent times when Lexus was but a glint in the Toyota board’s eye, our collective impression of full-sized Japanese luxury saloons probably looked something a good deal more like this. Not precisely of course, since this particular duo debuted a full decade after Toyota’s creative moonshot, but Mitsubishi’s 1999 flagship was both in name and appearance very much JDM plutocratic business as usual.
As such, European (or American for that matter) nostrums of luxury to say nothing of prestige car semantics were quite obviously deemed not only unnecessary, but inappropriate. Sober and imposing was what the domestic market expected and in both Proudia and Dignity models, sobriety and imposition was what they got. Continue reading “A Ship Called Dignity”
Now the fine powdered debris has settled, I thought I’d gather up some third party opinions on the mooted Renault/FCA merger.
I’ve decided to amalgamate three sources of information. They are the Financial Times, the New York Times and Autocar. My own view is that the merger is a re-run of the value-incinerating union of Chrysler and Mercedes twenty years ago. But what do the other commentators say if Renault and Fiat Continue reading “Romping Home Into Eighth Place”
Sometimes you have to go in search of news. It won’t come looking for you. Read on to learn which of their cars Ford UK considers “large”.
Let’s get going! Honda UK announced that the four-door Civic is going to be sold in the UK and that it is made in Turkey. Eager customers must wait until August to get their hands on their own example. A single petrol version with 1.0 litre i-VTEC will vie with the 1.6 litre diesel for sales. The gear ratio race is now up to nine cogs at Honda and you can have such a set-up in either manual or CVT automatic form.
Because the saloon is wider, longer and lower it can take up the demand unsatisfied by the gaping Accord-shaped hole in Honda’s line-up. The payoff is a lot of room inside: “class leading,” claim Honda modestly.
Matt Prior at Autocropley has wondered if cars are becoming less practical. I have another question…
Mr Prior is chiefly concerned about the practical impact of size. He thinks many cars are too wide for European conditions. Before I read the article I thought maybe he would write about the fact some large cars have surprisingly small loadbays, have hatches compromised by goofy lamp shapes or have cant rails that are angled so shallowly that you bang your head getting in to the car. He didn’t actually Continue reading “7JP-546-E (ii)”
In 1978, Fiat and Pininfarina displayed both their environmental credentials alongside the Ecos styling study. Twenty years later, were its themes reprised for of all things, an SUV?
As we’re fond of pointing out round here, the storied Italian design houses were not exactly above rehashing and repurposing design concepts for rival clients should the need arise (And it frequently did). After all, there are only so many ideas out there at a given time and if the intended client isn’t biting, why not Continue reading “A Concept for Sunday: 1978 Pininfarina Ecos”
The last Mitsubishi Galant had a good innings: 2003 to 2012. To be honest, I wasn’t aware of this one until about an hour ago.
Like Mendeleev, I had an idea that if there was an eighth generation Mitsubishi Galant there might be a ninth. Call it inductive reasoning. Sure enough, I found one. It’s credited to Olivier Boulay. It has a lot of Ford Mondeo in the glasshouse and the surfacing but the lamps are simply generic. It’s quite a change from the previous models which usually managed neat homogeneity. Continue reading “Reminders”
This example hoved into the gloomy car park of a shopping centre near me.
Although barely known in Europe it is one of those world cars with a basket of names and functions. It has had eight badges attached to it and has been propelled by eight engines. It’s the Mitsubishi L300.
In our final instalment we look at the Carisma’s showroom companions in Mitsubishi’s dealerships. What were they?
According to Car magazine’s GBU, all of them belonged in the Chump section. The Colt cost least, at just under £10,000. Another three thousand bought you a Lancer with one engine available. You’d need to offer roughly another one and a half thou more to drive off in the Galant 1.8 Si which had a 1.8 litre four, a 2.0 litre four, a 2.0 litre V6 and a 2.5 litre V6. The Sigma came as a saloon and an estate and the price of entry was nearly double that of the Galant: 30K in old money. Continue reading “The Big Ask 4: The Carisma’s Stablemates”
Remarkably unremarkable. It’s not much of an epitaph but it’s probably better than ‘Born in Sittard-Geleen’*
There’s always something irritating about an object which fails to live up to the promise of its name, which is one of the reasons the Mitsubishi Carisma annoys me. To be honest, I’d have preferred to have maintained a Carisma-free silence on the subject, but since we’re doing this as some mad thought experiment, here we are.
This is the third of five items today which look more closely at a rather special car, the …. um, whatsitsname.
Imagine yourself stranded on that hypothetical desert island. With nothing else, you start playing intellectual games. Game 56 is carving in the bark of a large tree the name of every car that you can remember. Will you ever, even if you live for 1,000 years, come to the Mitsubishi Carisma? Continue reading “The Big Ask – A Second Try”
In its nine year career, the Carisma had a range of colour options.
The launch colours of 1995 were bright and included a popular metallic bronze. As the century drew to a close monochrome predominated. The 1995 dark metallic green is hard to show in a colour chip so I presented a larger image. In general dark green is an unflattering colour which is why it is not often seen. The green tends to read as black in many lighting conditions. Not shown is the vibrant IKB colour of the middle years. Continue reading “1995-2004 Mitsubishi Carisma Paint Options”
This item begins a special one-day series devoted to the Mitsubishi Carisma. During the series we will look at the car from a variety of angles. First, the overview…
The story of the 1995 Mitsubishi Carisma serves as a sterling example of why timing, as much as the product, influences a car’s chances at the showrooms. A lot of the criticism fired at the Carisma takes aim at the car’s lack of visual drama. While it is true the Carisma didn’t break new ground so much as smooth it over, to think that the car’s carefully conservative appearance is the reason for the lacklustre performance is to miss the sharper point. Read on to find out several rather surprising things about this cherishably overlooked car… Continue reading “The Big Ask”
Tomorrow, Driven to Write is pushing aside all other issues to deal with a single car. It’s the Big Ask:
Our writing team will offer their deep wisdom and cogent analysis of the times and fate of one of Europe’s most discussed saloons from the recent past. Above is a small indication of what will be presented in the course of this unique day. As a sample, the car had a 1.9 litre common rail diesel engine among those offered during its nine-year run. We look forward to seeing you tomorrow to find out just how the Big Ask was answered…
We spent a lot of effort jawing about the Land Rover Discovery yesterday when perhaps the Mitsubishi Ground Tourer deserved more of our attention.
The Ground Tourer is a PHEV, with a four-cylinder petrol engine and three electric motors. Two of those are placed at the back. The Ground Tourer points towards Mitsubishi´s plans for a medium-large SUV and one which is intended to offer more agile behaviour than you’d expect. One way the PHEV power train delivers this is by the selective use of the power delivery from the rear electric motors. What agility means in a car is its willingness to turn around its own central axis. This behaviour can be encouraged by directing power asymmetrically to the rear wheels so the yaw velocity can be increased. It’s like giving the car a sideways nudge during a turn. Continue reading “The Not Land Rover”
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 Continue reading “Theme: Disappointment – 2005 Mitsubishi D:5 Concept Versus The Real Thing”
They are showing us the PHEV version of the Outlander. That’s really it.
This is what MMC say about their car: “The Outlander PHEV was first launched in Japan in January 2013 as the world’s first plug-in hybrid 4WD SUV. Now exported to 48 countries including those in Europe, it is the world’s fastest selling PHEV with cumulative sales of some 70,000 units.” I didn’t know that but also don’t know enough about the Continue reading “What Is Mitsubishi Offering at the IAA at Frankfurt This Year?”
A nice conceit with shutlines is to try to unite them inside a larger frame.
The 1998 Mitsubishi Colt (or Mirage) is not otherwise a very interesting vehicle. However, students of design might like to look again at the tail gate treatment. The lamps, screen and metal panel are enclosed inside one line which can be traced from the top of the rear glass all the way around to the bottom of the liftgate and back. It could have been done in a nicer fashion though. Continue reading “Theme: Shutlines – 1998 Mitsubishi Colt 3-door”
What is it with those slightly sagging window lines of the late 1970s?
A few days ago we posted an article about the 1978 Colt 1400. I noticed the window line sags slightly. The Opel Manta did this along with a few other cars of the era. What effect would it have had if the window line was dead straight? I did a simple edit on the original photo and found the difference between a dead straight line and the actual line is small. Does it look better? Continue reading “Small Details”
Renowned motoring writer Archie Vicar considers the 1978 Colt 1400. In this transcript from “The Driver’s Periodical” (November 1978), he reflects on what he felt was one of the year’s most significant new cars.
What is it that makes the Colt 1400 such a very interesting car? At first glance it would appear to be a rather inoffensively characterless family “hatchback” out of the same mould as the Renault 5 and Volkswagen Polo, merely offering another variation of noise and discomfort. The interior is available in an admittedly pleasant tan colour but the Colt 1400 makes no efforts at sporting appeal. Continue reading “1978 Colt 1400 Road Test”
Obviously I haven’t forgotten it. But nearly everyone else has.
Around the late 80s the Japanese car industry had a thing about technology. An arms race between Honda, Toyota and Nissan had the firms vying to outdo one another in the levels of fiendish ingenuity they could tempt customers with. An economic boom drove this boom in engineering silliness. Whereas in Europe and the US the late 80s economic expansion meant more cubic capacity, the Japanese tended to focus on all the other areas of the car. It led to some wonderful creations, hopeful monsters like this all-wheel drive Mitsubishi saloon. Continue reading “Unforgetting: 1989 Mitsubishi Galant 4wd 4ws”
Most of the Lancers I see in Denmark are the estate version though I see few of those. This is the saloon which is much, much rarer indeed. Bentley rare, I’d say.
I walked around the car and decided it was a fair interpretation of the small saloon, something of a fetish for me, I think. The spoiler is a excessive though. Its presence there on the bootlid means it’s the warmest version short of the Evo model which has completely overshadowed Mitsubishi, a halo car that has turned into a blinding light. Continue reading “Unforgetting: 2006-2007 Mitsubishi Lancer”
To celebrate Cute Month at DTW, we are offering Mitsubishi, FREE OF CHARGE, the attached name restructuring for their UK vehicle range.
Our consultants have come up with names that celebrate the ever maximising lifestyles of the 21st Century motorist whilst silently vocalising the informal outlook filtered through the standpoint of pertinent social media. Prices have been raised accordingly to reflect the added desirability these cute but cutting-edge names will surely engender.
A good question relates to the state of Mitsubishi in the UK car market. I am asking it today.
1984 Mitsubishi Colt: sold out
What do Mitsubishi sell today? Though the Lancer and Colt are still listed in Mitsubishi UK’s website, they are described as sold out. The remaining range consists of an electric car, a sub-B hatch called the Mirage, several flavours of sport utility vehicles and the very specialised Evolution X FQ-440 MR. This oddity fits into the range as well as an adult “toy” in a shop selling golfing equipment. Continue reading “Idle Thoughts: ボディカラー”