Mitsubishi Motors needs a pickup truck for the U.S. and Nissan wants a cheaper one for the global market. While the Red Diamonds’ Raider filled a ten year gap in the company’s lineup after the American discontinuation of the Mighty Max in 1996, sales were disappointing and production ended back in 2009. Now Mitsubishi and its new parent Nissan are investigating joint production of pickup trucks in Southeast Asia as they hunt for savings within the Renault-Nissan partnership.
The two Japanese automakers may combine the technical basis and eventual production of the future replacements for the South Asian-built Nissan Navara and Mitsubishi Triton, Mitsubishi chief operating officer Trevor Mann said in an interview at the Geneva car show.
Small pickups sold pretty well in the United States during the Malaise Era, and Ford and GM cashed in by importing and rebadging Mazda and Isuzu trucks, respectively. Chrysler, late to the party, turned to longtime partner Mitsubishi and began bringing in first-generation Forte pickups, starting in the 1979 model year.
Here’s a Dodge-badged version I found last week in a Denver self-service yard.
There was a time, when American truck shoppers were willing to tolerate the shame of driving small pickups, when the members of the Detroit Big Three couldn’t/wouldn’t build their own and thus sold rebadged Japanese trucks. GM had the Isuzu-built Chevy LUV, Ford had the Mazda-built Ford Courier, and Chrysler had various flavors of the Mitsubishi Forte aka Mighty Max. In 1982, you could get your Forte as a Mighty Max, a Plymouth Arrow, or a Dodge Ram 50. Though you could buy the Ram 50 until 1986, examples of this truck are very rare these days. Here’s one that I spotted in a Denver yard last week.
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