If you want to know about historical Mitsubishi vehicles, then the Mitsubishi Delica is a great place to start. This series of vans and pickup trucks goes all the way back to 1968, and in the case of the minivan design continues to this day. The Delica has undergone a huge amount of design change and engine construction over the years, as has the drivetrain. You’d expect as much from a model with half a century of history. In this piece, we explore the history, development, popular variants and why it is a great choice to purchase as a Japanese import car in the UK.

Mitsubishi Delica: Background

The Delica has a complex history going all the way back to 1968. It was originally based on the design for a cabover van and a pickup truck that were made about a year prior to the Delica’s release. The name “Delica” is a testament to this haulage-based heritage, being a contraction of two English words, “Delivery Car.”
Even from the earliest days, models were made for export, in particular to Europe, the Caribbean (at least until third generation), Australia, New Zealand and the United States.

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Essential Stats

Here’s how the Delica has evolved over time in its essential dimensions. Available data is lacking for the earliest models, but we have good info from the second generation onwards.

Key Stats for the First-Generation Mitsubishi Delica Minivan (1968)

Wheelbase: Max. 2,270mm (T120); 2,120mm (T1200/120)
Length: N/A
Width: N/A
Height: Max. N/A
Curb Weight: N/A
Came with 1.1L (T100) and 1.4L (T120) engines.

Key Stats for the Second-Generation Mitsubishi Delica Minivan (1979)

Wheelbase: Max. 2,200-2,350 (short or long wheel base respectively)
Length: 4,100mm (short); 4,260mm (long); 4,445mm (van)
Width: Max. 1,690mm
Height: Max. 1,990mm
Curb Weight: N/A

Key Stats for the Third-Generation Mitsubishi Delica Minivan (1986)

Wheelbase: Max. 2,435mm
Length: 4,380-4,780mm
Width: 1,690mm
Height: Max. 1,955mm
Curb Weight: N/A

Key Stats for the Fourth-Generation Mitsubishi Delica Minivan (1994)

Wheelbase: 2,800-3,000mm
Length: 4,595-5,085mm
Width: 1,695mm
Height: 1,855-2,070mm
Curb Weight: 1,690-2,170kg

Key Stats for the Fifth-Generation Mitsubishi Delica Minivan (2007)

Wheelbase: 2,850mm
Length: 4,730-4,800mm
Width: 1,795mm
Height: 1,850-1,875mm
Curb Weight: 1,680-1,980kg

Mitsubishi Delica Background

The Delica has a complex history going all the way back to 1968. It was originally based on the design for a cabover van and a pickup truck that were made about a year prior to the Delica’s release. The name “Delica” is a testament to this haulage-based heritage, being a contraction of two English words, “Delivery Car.”

Even from the earliest days, models were made for export, in particular to Europe, the Caribbean (at least until third generation), Australia, New Zealand and the United States.

1968

The first year of production was the Delica commercial vehicle based on a cabover pickup design. It was initially powered by a 1.1L engine and manufactured at Mitsubishi’s Nagoya plant. At the time it was also known as the Mitsubishi Colt among export markets. The first-generation production run ran until 1979, receiving facelifts in 1971 and 1974.

The Delica — or Colt as it was known internationally — became a runaway success in export markets, especially Indonesia. In that country, the name “Colt” became synonymous with minibus.

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Mitsubishi Delica: Background Continued

1979-1986

1979 saw the arrival of the first passenger cars, known initially as the Delica Star Estate, and then the Delica Space Gear in 1994. Use as a pickup truck design was stopped in 1994.

The second-generation Delica received some big design changes, with its width increased to a new maximum of 1,690mm. It was during this generation that the first 4WD models became available, in 1982 to be precise. This production run, despite its relatively short timeframe, also brought out many new engine options for the Delica, from 1.4L to 2.5L. It still retained its fairly boxy looks, however, though it nonetheless was popular for its time.

1986-1994

It was during the third generation that the more recognizable modern designs started to emerge in the Delica range. Edges were being softened and curves favoured over boxy corners. Buyers in Australia may recognize this generation’s model as the Starestate. The third generation was also interesting in that while production halted in Japan in 1994 with Mitsubishi, other brands kept using the build for their own versions for much longer into the future. Korea’s Hyundai continued until 2003, and the third generation is still produced in Taiwan.

Mitsubishi Delica: Background Continued

After 1994

After the mid-1990s, the aerodynamic shape took hold, and we enter into the really global popularity of the Delica. The biggest engine offerings rose to 3.0L for a gasoline engine, and 2.8L for diesel. The Delica Space Gear, as it was known in Japan, included several models — XR, XG, Exceed, Super Exceed and the Royal Exceed.
The newer models, interestingly, had something in common with another Mitsubishi that this platform features, the Mitsubishi Pajero. The transmission and traction control systems in the Delica at this point were the same ones as used in the Pajero and the Pajero junior mini-SUV.

In Japan, since the late 1990s, domestic models were essentially rebadged versions of other brand vehicles under the name Delica Cargo. From 1999 to 2010, for example, it was the Mazda Bongo Brawny used for the truck/van/cargo variant. After that, other models used included the Nissan NV200 (Delica D:3) and the Suzuki Solio (Delica D:2).

The fifth and most current generation arrived in 2007, and has since undergone a number of facelifts. The most current Delica people carriers are frankly unrecognizable from their ancestors of the 1970s and 1980s. They now sport chrome-finish grilles, rear spoilers, sweep-back headlights, infotainment for the interior and much more.

The Delica has undergone a large journey, let’s take a closer look at the specifications of each generation and see how they’ve evolved over time.

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Attraction as a JDM Import

What kinds of people have come to love the Mitsubishi Delica over the years? Below we explore several important reasons that make Delica — or should make — top of the list for many looking for a 4WD van or people carrier import from Japan.

Old but Comfortable

Many a JDM enthusiast has long since discovered that Japanese import cars are superlative because they offer many of the mod cons that didn’t arrive as standard features in many European or American cars until later. Delica models feature great additions like heated seats, electric mirrors, a huge sunroof if you want, and much more. You may think at first that it looks like a household appliance on wheels, but this van was built for comfort.

It’s 4WD

The 4WD models were rarely if ever exported from Japan, which means many buyers were missing out on a transmission and traction system that were actually shared with two other very popular SUV models, the Pajero and Pajero Junior. The 4WD system makes the vans incredibly capable; far more than you’d imagine from your first glance.

Outdoor Applications

Let’s say you are a couple looking to take budget holidays and not wanting to fork out for the expense of hotels or even guest houses. Well, the Mitsubishi Delica, originally built to seat around 8 people, can house the two of you very comfortably indeed. You can easily build out your campervan around the simple and accessible Delica architecture.

Easy Maintenance

Spare parts for the Mitsubishi Delica are still readily available, and the construction of the vehicle is also relatively straightforward, with no overly complex systems to worry about. This makes maintenance and/or repairs a simple matter, and you will unlikely ever have to worry about any kind of expensive repair bill shocks with the Delica.

For Travel, For Everyday Life, It Can All be Delica

All buyers of these Mitsubishi Delica Japanese imports for sale in UK have something in common — they want a solid, reliable, affordable and comfortable Japanese van that can get the job done. Delica is a van and people carrier or real substance, and a great choice of JDM car whether you’re looking to convert into a camper, or use as a cheaper alternative to a newer, more expensive MPV. Browse through our own selection of Mitsubishi Delica vehicles available for sale; we’re sure you’ll find the right fit.

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