Mitsubishi also offered a full range of different trim levels with even wilder names (Exceed Low, High Top Crystal Lite, Active World High Top, Low, Exceed Turbo D, Crystal Lite, etc, etc). Other upgrades included different types of interiors and accessories, seating for seven to eight individuals, and even different types of roofs, including a high roof. Such widely varying specs made the Delica a platform that you could tailor almost infinitely to your own needs.
But while the names for the Delica are certainly cool and all the options provided vehicle variety, it’s the combination of stout powertrains, reliable drivetrains, and the interior’s flexibility that set it apart from other off-road adventure mobiles and captivated outdoors types. Western markets took notice of this super-fun oddity, and due to its import status it became something of a forbidden fruit, which only helped its legend grow.
You see, the Delica was never really truly sold in the United States. One model made its way to our shores for a very short time but it wasn’t the same as the coveted Japanese market vans. When the third-generation Delica and all its variants hit their 25th birthday, however, they were no longer subject to the International Vehicle Safety Compliance Act, which prevented US importers from bringing them into the country. Now all bets are off—apart from emissions testing.
Things to Know Before Buying a Mitsubishi Delica
Thousands have since found their way to the United States and into owners’ hands. To get a better sense of that experience, including how people sourced their cars and why they like them, I talked with Matt Farah of The Smoking Tire podcast and owner of Westside Collector Car Storage, Andrew Groves of Miscellaneous Adventures, and Andy Lilienthal of Crankshaft Culture. All of them are proud owners of a Mitsubishi Delica.
“I originally wanted a van-type vehicle to use as a cool, affordable, and interesting shop truck and airport pickup vehicle for my customers at WCCS,” said Farah, who owns a 1991 Mitsubishi Delica Star Wagon Exceed Turbo D, “but I Bought it about six months before we actually opened and my wife started driving it. She told me that if I wanted a shop truck I could go buy another one because this was her car now.”
“The Delica offers a true 4WD system with a two-speed transfer case paired with the versatility of a van platform,” said Lilienthal, who owns a 1994 Mitsubishi Delica Space Gear, adding “No domestically sold vehicles readily offer this, and certainly not at a Delica price point.”