By on January 15, 2015

Messy (1)

TTAC reader James Federico sends us his take on life with a Mitsubishi Delica

“It’s a Mitsubishi Delica”

“Japan originally, but I bought it from a dealer in London”

“About 10 grand”

These are the first three sentences I speak any time I exit my van within twenty feet of another human being. There are other questions, depending on the age and interests of the person asking them:

“Do you go off road?”
“Is it hard to drive over there?”
“Is it hard to get parts?”

Stepping out of a seven foot tall minivan with 31” AT tires and a snorkel says to the world “Hi! I’m dying for someone to chat with. I definitely don’t have three children under the age of seven in the back of this thing who need someone to disinter them from their restraints before they deposit some type of bodily fluid and/or sticky foodstuff over 75% of the interior.” As such, I have learned to gently steer the curious party over to the sliding door while answering their follow-up questions as best as possible (In order: Yes. No. No.).

With the sliding door open I can start unbuckling while demonstrating the power covers on the Crystal Light Roof. Once three boys have been released from their bonds and hugged/climbed on/hit some part of me the questioner usually realizes that I’m just some schlub with a family on a road trip to Gramma’s and lets me get on with my life/pee stop.

And that, more or less, is what it is like to own a Mitsubishi Delica. It’s a big 4×4 box that draws more attention than Scarlett Johansson hosting a mud wrestling competition to choose a winner of a Scarlett Johansson look alike contest. It also happens to be a damned good minivan. And I know a thing or two about minivans.

1993MPVforscale

Starting with the minivan-ness (minivanity?): I own an extended wheelbase Delica with captain’s chairs in the middle row. It’s got a flat floor front to back, and the various rows do various tricks that leave me with more than a 4×8 sheet’s worth of clear space if I need it. This makes the van ridiculously flexible. It serves as the primary transport for a family of 5, with all the attendant stuff that implies, and it has never left me wanting for space. It has great seats, and is quiet enough to converse with the third row at highway speeds with minimal shouting.

Limo Mode (1)

Of course, being a Japanese import, the van is right hand drive. This hurts minivan functionality as the only sliding door exits into traffic. Not a deal breaker for me as I drive on parkways and park on driveways almost exclusively. Where I a street-parker I would want to think carefully about door position before purchasing.

From a purely driving standpoint, right hand drive in a left hand world is no big deal, especially because the van is tall enough to see over or through most traffic. In the rural part of Ontario where I live, it’s actually a bit of a plus, as I know exactly where the ditch starts when trying to squeeze past combines or fruit wagons. It’s worse for my wife. She gets to travel a lot of two lanes blacktop three feet from the yellow line without a steering wheel in her hand. She spends a lot of our trips “sleeping”.

One area that could use improvement is the engine. The Delica is powered… no, that’s too generous. The Delica is influenced by a 2.8 litre turbo diesel engine. It works, but you are trying to motivate a 5,000 lb garden shed with 125 horsepower. It can cruise at 80 mph, it can tow 5,000 lbs, it can climb a 10% grade. It just can’t do more than one of those things at a time. It’s not dangerously slow by any means, at least not until you hook it to your 12’ pop up trailer and load it up with 500 lbs of people and at least that much gear. Then you want to plan ahead and stick to the rightmost lane. Upside is that it has returned 17.2 mpg over the 70,000 kms I’ve logged. It’s not spectacular, but it’s 2 mpg better than the Pathfinder it replaced, which was smaller, lighter, and just as gutless.

On the 4×4 front, it’s a real one. High and low range, with a selectable locker in high range, all operated by a big lever next to the driver’s seat. I run 2wd most of the time, flip it into AWD when roads get messy, lock the centre diff when I’m really off road, and flip it to low range after I’m hopelessly stuck and pray that does something.

inthewoods

As for attention, at least here in Southern Ontario, nothing beats it. Highway trips are punctuated with cars doing slow flybys while passengers scramble to get pictures. I once brought it to a TTAC event where they were sharing track time with a rent-a-supercar program. Five high end luxury sports cars came off the track at once, and all of their drivers parked and headed straight for the Delica to ask What, Where, and How Much.

As a father of three, the Delica really is a luxury car. I can go where I want to go, when I want to go there, bring my family, and never have to worry about who packed what. I can fill it with stuff until I run out of stuff, drive it until the road ends, then drive it a little further. And sometimes, a little time together away from the infotainment that surrounds us is all the luxury a family needs

 

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

55 Comments on “Reader Review: 1993 Mitsubishi Delica Super Exceed...”


  • avatar
    vent-L-8

    the real question is how can one get an imported diesel van into North America without it being seized and crushed by customs.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Be more than 15 years old, basically. For Canada anyway.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        I see quite a few of these around. Most appear to be owned by the “rugged” outdoor types who’s ego’s do not need a lifted black smoke belching Foramerado or similarly equipped spotlessly clean Jeep Wrangler.
        I was on Vancouver Island once and a buddy drove me by a used car lot that imported them.

        • 0 avatar
          APaGttH

          Yup. See a number of these running around BC when I go north of the border. Spent some time eye humping one in EC Manning Provincial Park over the US 4th of July holiday.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      The older “L300” vans are now becoming eligible for import through the ’25 year’ rule. Supposedly a few are already running about in Washington and Oregon, there’s quite a few used Delicas to choose from that were previously imported into B.C. Canada.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Canadians have different rules!

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      They were sold in the US at one time. I recently came accross one on craigslist near Seattle. I believe all USDM vans were RWD/gasoline versions. The one I found had some mechanical issues (he was a little vauge, but probably because he really didnt know what the actual issue was). Thats as good of a reason as any to repower it with diesel and convert it to 4wd IMO. Of course, it didnt have the updated Delica front facia (it had sealed beam quad headlamps), but that too looks easy enough to fix.

      I seriously want a JDM car in my fantasy collection, just wish it didnt have to be 25+ years old (United States). The number one auto-related law Id throw out as soon as I come to power isnt the chicken tax, its the 25 year import band. If Americans want Falcons from Austrailia, Kei cars from Japan, or anything else that has headlights, turn signals, and tail/brake lamps, so be it. If you want to fly down I10 in a car that would fit in the cargo hold of the Expedition on your tail, go ahead. People, as long as they know the risks and can afford to buy and import the car, should be able to drive whatever in the hell they want. Id probably set the limit closer to 10 years to keep the OEMs happy.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

        Here it is (they reposted it after the ad was gone, guess they thought they had a buyer and it fell through.

        http://seattle.craigslist.org/tac/cto/4849208494.html

        Not terrible, but not too bad. The seats may be hard to source, unless you modify some other van’s captains chairs to work.

        Has some dents on one side, but more than likely rust is minor, if it even has any.

        The updated facia I mention was for this generation, not the Op’s 1993. The facelifted model of this generation had flush headlamps, and a (functional?) grille spanning between them. Looks a helluva lot better than those sealed beams.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    Can’t wait till the L400s are importable to the US, I’ll be first in line for a gas V6 model (same ubiquitous Montero engine that was sold here for years). My old “Allsport” MPV had the room but not quite the clearance and lacked a true low range transfer case. My 4Runner is very capable but interior is just a tad tight for camping inside of it.

    The turbodiesel L300s seem a bit too tippy and out of breath for US interstates. I was talking to an importer but I don’t want to be a trail blazer for registering an old JDM here in Indiana, I’d rather wait to see how other people handle the paperwork.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    It’s like a Japanese version of an AWD Eddie Bauer Aerostar. And I don’t say that as a bad thing.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    Can’t wait till the L400s are importable to the US, I’ll be first in line for a gas V6 model (same ubiquitous Montero engine that was sold here for years). My old “Allsport” MPV based on the older van you have pictured next to your Delica had the room but not quite the clearance and lacked a true low range transfer case. My 4Runner is very capable but interior is too tight for camping ins1de of it comfortably.

    The turbodiesel L300s seem a bit too tippy and out of breath for US interstates. I was talking to an importer but I don’t want to be a trail blazer for registering an old JDM here in Indiana, I’d rather wait to see how other people handle the paperwork.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Indiana is a picky and expensive place to register things. The BMV actually checks out the paperwork and what’s going on, and will even GO OUTSIDE to the car sometimes. What a pain in the @ss.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        Yeah when I re-registered my Civic when I moved from NY I went through all the motions with the BMV (and payed all the $$$). At least the offices are much better run, you take a number and sit down, and the one I went to had all of the windows manned, and was even open on Saturdays and til 7pm on Tuesdays.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Indiana went through an initiative in the early 00s to rework all BMV offices. The result was what you saw. It’s massively better than it used to be as far as speed and efficiency are concerned.

          • 0 avatar
            Nick 2012

            +10000 on Indiana’s BMV. I just titled a car in 10 minutes. The Indiana BMV’s customer service shames most corporations and is on par with higher-end retailers (I’m not kidding).

    • 0 avatar
      mikeg216

      I’m in Ohio, I can register almost anything would love the info on the importer Mikeg216 @gmail dot com

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Thoughts:

    I like your writing, James. It’s fun.

    The nearest legal equivalent to this 7-seat offroad thing is of clearly a 95-01 Montero Limited. Always liked em. The second (larger) equivalent is one of those Econoline 4WD offroad vans.

    Questions:

    Related: Why choose this Mitsu over one of the other marque’s options from the time? I’m pretty sure they all offered a similar vehicle.

    Unrelated: Who actually makes those Econoline offroad conversions?

    Idea: In South Korea, there are about fifteen million-billion of these style vans driving around in Hyundai (Grace and/or Starex) and Ssangyong (Istana) guise (some of course with M-B turbo diesels), and I bet some of them have 4WD. I can’t recall. This would seem an easier importing proposition because a) used old cars are cheaper in Korea, since Koreans shun old consumables and b) they’re LHD already.

    See:
    http://image.autowini.com/AUTOWINI3/UploadImage/Thumb/20121108/CI201211080000287987/CI201211080000287987000800.jpg

    Both the Grace and Starex were based on the Delica.

    • 0 avatar
      Feds

      Thank you, I’d like to write more, so I’ll consider this encouragement to do so.

      Why the Mitsu over the other vans? For one, it is the most off-road capable in the bunch. Second, the other options are all true forward control, meaning you’re sitting out over the engine. I don’t like the way forward control trucks ride. Finally, the Mitsu has a lot more support locally that the other brands, making parts and service a lot easier.

      I know some of the BC dealers have tried pulling LHD vans out of other asian countries. For some reason it doesn’t work quite as well as Japan.

      As for the econoline conversions: Quigley is the company.

      • 0 avatar
        Signal11

        @CoreyDL – the Grace/Starex didn’t come in 4WD in the same generation as these Delicas. Those were still Hyundais when Hyundai was still producing crap. I see them on the road and quite frankly, they neither look the part that the old Delicas do.

        @Feds – I disagree with you on off-road capability. Contemporary Toyota HiAces can be had with factory heavy duty suspensions, transmissions, locking diffs, hubs, etc and can range from family hauler, recreational vehicle right up to commercial, off road utility vehicles.

        The downside to the HiAce is as you pointed out, it’s cab-over design. While that is an advantage while maneuvering, in a head on accident, your lower body is first on scene of an accident and you can pretty much kiss your knees goodbye. The Delica has a safety advantage there in the sense that there is a crumple zone and something to absorb the impact short of a bull bars welded to the frame. I don’t have enough fingers to count the number of amputations I’ve seen due to bad frontal accidents in HiAces in East Africa.

        That said, the Delicas of that generation have serious balance issues due to how top heavy they are. I’ve have personally seen the undersides of several of these vehicles on the side of the road because they wobbled while at speed.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Where do you live?

    I ask because I’ve seen two, one in St. Catharines (where I used to live; and your pictures don’t look like they’re on Niagara St.) and another in Peterborough (again, doesn’t look like where I’ve seen that particular example parked).

    • 0 avatar
      Feds

      I’m near St. Catharines (in Pelham). I’ve met the guy on Niagara Street once or twice. We’re each other’s alibi’s.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        Ah, right, I recall you mentioning this before.

        Doesn’t the fellow on Niagara St also have a Pajero in his driveway? It seems like people start collecting the full set: the fellow in Peterborough has both (Delica, Pajero).

        • 0 avatar
          scott25

          I feel like I’ve seen 2 different delicas in peterborough multiple times, but who knows, one could be a regular visitor. I’m more curious about the person in this town who still owns and drives a Daihatsu rocky that I see around.

  • avatar

    The basic, two-wheel-drive versions of these are tinny and in my experience not very fun to drive. The fully optioned 4 wheel drives like this one are really nice rigs. If I had ended up going to Mongolia the plan was to buy one of these. Alas, that did not come to fruition.

  • avatar
    charski

    My question: is that a honesttogod, functioning hood scoop? Please say yes….

    • 0 avatar
      Feds

      Yes. It feeds the top mount intercooler.

      The intercooler seems to be the limiting factor for engine performance. I’m gathering parts for an IC sprayer to see if that helps.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        I’ve heard similar, especially on the L300s with did not even come with ANY sort of intercooler from the factory. That is mainly why they cannot sustain modern highway speeds for long stretches of time, they simply cook themselves to death. So in that case it isn’t just a question of increased performance, it is one of longevity.

  • avatar

    I agree with Corey’s earlier thoughts which, for some reason I can’t reply directly to. James, this was a well written fun take on a vehicle that most of us will never get to put eyes on in the flesh. I think its great to see the readers stepping up and talking about their unique rides, it’s one of TTAC’s best features and I’m glad that it has been continued into the new year.

    • 0 avatar
      Feds

      Cory’s comment seems to have upset the hampsters, I can’t reply to it either, so I’ll do it here:

      First, thanks. I’d like to write more and do updates as I add modifications and take it on road trips. I’ll take your responses as the encouragement I need.

      Why the Mitsu over the other models? First, it’s the most off road capable. The Homey, Bongo, and Estima are much more road focused. Second, the competitors are all forward control (engine between/under the seats). I just don’t like the way they ride. Finally, the Delica community is very strong in Canada. I can get just about anything within a day or two. The other vans are much less supported.

      And Quigley is the company that makes the 4×4 Econolines.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Personally, I prefer the more urban stylings of the Previa, and would like to own a supercharged example with a retrofitted stick-shift.

    But I can appreciate this.

  • avatar
    carve

    I wonder why nothing like this is offered in the US? It seems to step right over the mom-mobile stigma, and would be a great hike/bike/ski/camp/surf weekend-warrior vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      Mandalorian

      It wouldn’t sell more than 3. The Tahoe is the American answer to your question.

      It’s a cool vehicle, but owning a Right Hand Drive on Left driving roads just seems a bit ridiculous to me.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        You’re correct sales wise, but the Delica’s packaging is monumentally more efficient than the Tahoe, and the offroading chops are probably in the favor of the Delica as well.

        I fit this ‘weekend warrior’ profile to a ‘T.’ I hike, camp, canoe, fish, mountain bike. It’s nice to be able to sleep comfortably sleep in your vehicle, for example if you get to your site after dark. Or if camping with friends, the extra space is needed. Last time I took my MPV with friends, it was 5 big guys, a canoe, tents and packs, a cooler, etc. Everything fit, just. I sure was thankful to have load leveling air suspension on that trip.

        Around here, new Tahoe = petite pretty soccer mom/trophy wife driving kids to private school (image wise). Wranglers, Tacomas, Xterras, Subarus, Audis seem to be the preferred conveyance of the young, fit, outdoorsy set.

        The big advantage of the fullsize GM SUVs is definitely towing. If you have some weekend toys like dirt bikes or quads or a boat then they are a excellent choice.

  • avatar
    PJmacgee

    Great story and writing, thanks! My friend’s family had a 4wd Previa when we were in high school, ’90s 4wd minivans are so kickass for some reason…

    “And sometimes, a little time together away from the infotainment that surrounds us is all the luxury a family needs”

    Amen, brother.

  • avatar
    EAF

    Great story of an awesome minivan. Now turn up the boost pressure!

  • avatar
    readallover

    There are a bunch of these around Vancouver. And all sorts of JDM imports, too. That`s because of a JDM dealer called Japanoid in the suburb of New Westminster. They import mostly work trucks, but cars and vans, as well.

    • 0 avatar
      kmoney

      You’re starting to see Kei cars and trucks around Vancouver now too for delivery vehicles and small landscaping companies. There is a Subaru Sambar running around here — 660cc supercharged i4 micro van. Cool stuff.

  • avatar
    toadroller

    That was a fantastic piece of writing, from the staging of the answers before the questions to the Scarlett Johansson bit to the ‘influenced by.’

    I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  • avatar
    Nick 2012

    Someone in Canada needs to import a Toyota Century. Because Toyota V12.

  • avatar
    ClutchCarGo

    2 captains chairs and 3 boys sounds like a recipe for perpetual arguing/whining.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      Well, the odd man (boy) out has the rear bench all to himself. I remember when my parents first bought a minivan in 1990 ( brand new Ford Aerostar XL extended). Instead of fighting for the front seat as with mom’s previous vehicle (1985.5 Escort 3 door), we were happy to sit in the back because of the novelty of having soooooo much room and comfort all to ourselves (especially compared to the ‘Scort, or worse, riding in the covered bed of dads single cab Ranger).

  • avatar
    Robert

    As a proud member of the He-Man Minivan Lovers Club, well done sir!

  • avatar
    wstarvingteacher

    Great article about a very interesting vehicle. I came to all this 4wd stuff recently. Had always considered them unreliable (probably macho dudes beat them excessively in 4wd magazines). Now I think they are necessary. Have owned vans and mitsubishis before but never a mitsubishi van with 4wd. Sounds like the perfect solo vehicle for me.

  • avatar
    Blaz

    At first I thought I was looking at a korean van made by Hyundai (an old Hyundai H1 4×4):

  • avatar
    KrohmDohm

    Love these things. They were all over northern Japan when I was stationed there. Maybe if someone (Hyundai, cough cough!) had the guts to bring them to the States we could make Minivans cool here too.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    It’s a thing of beauty.

  • avatar
    Starwagonturbod

    I have the same sort of questions whenever I drive my 89 L300 Delica Starwagon in Massachusetts. I imported it last August and amazingly enough had the pleasure of meeting the author of this excellent read. I bought my van through the same importer and needed some assistance in getting some paperwork printed up before my border crossing. That is when James came to the rescue and let me use his office. I am forever grateful! Excellent writing James and thanks again. Keep it shiny side up.

    Chris

  • avatar
    DownUnder2014

    Is this an auto or stick?

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • EBFlex: ” serial adulterer” Yes shouldn’t he be completely canceled for that? Per the leftist mob...
  • ToolGuy: You can rearrange the letters of MOVEMENT THAT INSPIRES to spell: – HESITANT IMPROVEMENTS –...
  • conundrum: I lived in London from 1969 to 1974. There never was a 2.6 litre version of this Essex V6 engine. The 2.5l...
  • ToolGuy: In fairness, it all started with the Clown Cars.
  • ToolGuy: Part of me remembers the power window switches being mounted in the center console (and only in the center...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber