A Booming International Business
Mitsubishi’s motoring origins date back to 1917, when the brand produced Japan’s first series-production car, the Mitsubishi Model A. However, it wasn’t until February 1970 that Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Co began to target the European export market, and it would be 1974 before the company’s first UK-specification cars were unveiled at the London Motor Show.
Mitsubishi Model A
Its early years in the UK saw Mitsubishi go from strength to strength, attaining huge commercial success with the iconic Shogun from the 80s onwards. This revolutionary vehicle defined the new market sector that would come to exist between Land Rover and Range Rover, paving the way for models such as the Discovery.
Not only did it sell well, but the car capitalised on its all-wheel drive technology to claim four drivers and one manufacturers championship on the WRC scene, and 12 Dakar victories.
The brand’s success was not restricted to this one brilliantly designed vehicle. To celebrate its innovations, successes and achievements, here are 5 of the greatest cars produced by Mitsubishi over the last forty years.
Mitsubishi Shogun (1982)
The first generation Shogun was, quite simply, a revelation - for the 4x4 sector and for its mother company. An instant hit with UK buyers, it offered generous levels of equipment, a track record of reliability and value-for-money pricing. Widely viewed as a 4x4, with Range Rover amenability minus the price tag, it was, and remains, a phenomenal success.
Mitsubishi 3000GT (1990)
The 3000GT marked a new direction for Mitsubishi. A premium end GT car filled with just about every conceivable gadget, it featured full time four-wheel drive, four-wheel steering, active aerodynamics, variable exhaust modes and electronically controlled suspension. Entering the market, the GT took its place beside the Nissan 300ZX and the Toyota Supra, proving to everyone that the Japanese makers had well and truly joined the ranks of the supreme when it came to producing high performance cars.
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution (1992)
In good company with the Subaru Impreza Turbo, the Mitsubishi Evo is one of the most iconic and beloved homologation specials on the market today. Blessed with four-wheel drive, active diffs and as many electronic systems as are deemed legal by the sport’s legislators, the Evos remain a favourite amongst their many fans. The original model featured 267bhp, with the current model up to 400bhp – before modification, of course…
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
Mitsubishi FTO (1994)
A strong challenger in the rapidly expanding 1990s coupe market, the FTO garnered huge international interest. Originally intended only for the Japanese market, the sought-after V6 MIVEC engines were punchy, and the positive front-wheel drive ensured that handling was excellent. One of the dandiest cars ever produced by the company, it was discontinued in 2000.
Mitsubishi Delica (1994)
A mid-sized van, the Delica became something of a cult classic in Britain. Made desirable by their combination of smart, adaptable interior, go-anywhere four-wheel drive and a turbo diesel engine, countless Delica camper conversions were imported into the country, and they promise to be a quirky classic of the future.
So, here’s to four decades of Mitsubishi in Britain. After that little run through, the question on our lips is this: what does the next forty years hold? We’re all excited to find out.