Twentysomething white Mitsubishi wagons are not what one might call an exciting find. But if you don’t take the time to look at the absence of excitement, it can seem like there’s so much CC fodder out there that plain vanilla vehicles such as this one do not exist. But no, most of Kanto is plain indeed; this Libero stood out in that it pushed the vanilla envelope to the extreme. Careful with this one, dear reader, it’s going to be extra dull.
Wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall in the executive suite of certain carmakers? In the ‘80s and ‘90s, for instance, it seemed like Mitsubishi didn’t know what they were doing with their bread-and-butter family cars. Just figuring out the name seemed like a real challenge. “Sooo… what are we going to go with? Colt, Lancer, Mirage, Summit, Wira?” “Why not all of those, depending on the market?” “Sure, let’s go with that.”
It’s hard to try and reverse-engineer most of Mitsubishi’s decisions from those years (see also the Proudia debacle), but the most puzzling one is their fumbling of their historic Lancer and Colt nameplates. Other than by throwing a dart, blindfolded, at a giant bulletin board full of post-its of PR brainfarts, it’s difficult to figure out what happened. But I’ll try.
So let’s get back to that meeting room. “There’s a coupé version. What should we call it?” “Nothing special. Just Lancer / Colt / Summit coupé.” “Right, but make an exception with the Proton-badged Malaysian version – they’ll be called Putra. Because reasons.” “Cool. Cool cool cool. How about the wagon, anything special?” “Don’t bother with the Eagle version. And in Japan (and only in Japan), give it its own model name.” “OK, but let’s make it a name with an L, an R and a B, so that virtually nobody will be able to pronounce it.” “Genius.”
Other than that stupid name, it’s just a Lancer, no more and no less. The JDM version arrived in mid-1992 and lasted until the end of 2000 as a wagon, but continued on for another three years as a base-spec van. Our feature car, being a “V Limited” wagon, is a very late model. And it was so unengaging that I wasn’t even tempted to see how many shades of dark grey constituted its interior trim. Sometimes, you have to know when to cut it short. And on this note…