Have you ever been doing something, minding your own business, say, perhaps, in the middle of a flapjack eating contest, when it suddenly hits you that all of the great mid-engine minivans of the 1980s and 1990s are just gone, at least here in America? Instead of letting that despair consume you, causing you to eject a near-volleyball-sized mass of semi-chewed pancake onto the table in front of you, I’d like to give you hope by letting you know that the famous Mitsubishi Delica minivan is still being built, just as you knew it, in Taiwan.
I know it’s not here in America, but it’s something, and I think it’s something inspiring.
The Delica is a great design for a minivan, a real packaging triumph, and one of the last full-size holdouts of the old sit-on-the-engine design that leaves the entire length of the van available for humans or cargo.
The “modern” version is made by CMC, China Motor Corporation. It been updated with Mitsubishi’s “Dynamic Shield” front end design/corporate uglification package, but overall it still has that ‘80s van-charm.
The modern Delica also provides one of the absolute best Google-translation experiences, which seems to be doing a combination of crude translation and insane hyperbole-adding. Look:
“Invincible Equipment?” “Unlimited Power?” Those are some pretty intensely bold claims right there.
I’ll also confess that I wasn’t aware you could buy either a “self-propelled model” or a “hand row model.” I’m guessing a self-propelled one is more popular and far less exhausting. I think what’s going on with that is how and automatic or manual transmission is being translated.
Silly word mishaps aside, the idea of a manual mid-engine minivan still sound glorious to me, and it looks like both versions come with a 2.3-liter inline-four 16 valve engine making a respectable 133 horsepower.
I’m such a sucker for these clean-looking cabover vans. They feel like the best parts of the prop shuttles used on Star Trek and they’re practical as hell, seating up to eight people or carrying huge amounts of stuff.
I imagine that updating this to meet modern American safety standards is effectively impossible, but, based on how Mitsubishi is doing in America at the moment, I’m going to say trying to do so wouldn’t be the worst plan.
A federalized Delica would really set Mitsubishi apart, and could give them a leg in the American van and cargo van niche that they already do great in all over the world and—
Sorry. I know that shit isn’t happening. Still, I’m happy to see a quality old design still soldiering on, and I guess that made me get carried away.
Did I mention they still make the Pickup version, too? Because they do.