I took this picture 6 months ago while visiting Tokyo, and completely forgot about it until I saw yesterday’s Jeep Station Wagon posting. While the back of this wagon clearly reads “Jeep,” it is in fact all Mitsubishi. The company stamped its triple diamond logo into the sheet metal at the top of the grille, and the steering wheel was mounted on the right hand side, Japanese market style.
(Image from Wikipedia)
During a quick web search, I discovered this Wikipedia image of a Mitsubishi Jeep using the same paint scheme. Too bad they covered the license plate number- Looking at the mudflaps and the blue plastic rain shields in the side windows, it may be the same truck with an older set of blackwalls!
The web tells me that Mitsubishi built Jeeps under license from 1953 to 1998. To maximize utility, some models were offered with diesel power and some included Dana axles, but the body and frame were unique to Mitsubishi.
On my next trip to Japan, I need to spend a day in search of Curbside Classics. The country is full of cars like this one; familiar to the American eye and yet just a little off.
This is just fabulous! As my son, the Nippono-phile puts it, just the sort of thing that happens when you put people on an island all by themselves and turn them loose to create.
I knew Mitsubishi built CJs under license, but never these – and until 1998?! The grille and hood appear to have come from a CJ-3B and I’m guessing Mitsu was probably building their version of that Jeep for a long time as well. Wonder if you could get the wagon with A/C and power steering by the end of it’s run. With those additions and a (relatively) modern diesel powerplant, this would be just about perfect. Too bad it never came back home to the US.
Wow, I have never seen anything like this before. But I like it. This makes me think that in addition to Jeep’s mistake of not keeping this style in production, Jeep never did a 4 door version. This could be my favorite Mitsu ever!
I just also noticed the three wipers. I would bet that there is very little if anything that actually interchanges with an American Jeep of that same series.
The fender mounted mirrors are a uniquely Japanese touch. I always wondered why they never caught on in America.
Japan was not the only country making Jeep clones, Ssangyong also made Jeep clones in Korea.
The fender mounted mirrors are a pain to adjust for one thing; you need one person outside the car to manuever them while another person in the car checks the aim. This can be done by one person but it’s a lot of trial and error. Some U.S. cars did have fender mounted mirrors back in the day. My father had a 1960 Ford that had them, and yes they were difficult to get adjusted. Putting the outside mirrors on the doors is just much easier to deal with.
The other problem is that the field of vision is about the size of a quarter. My 59 Fury had a mirror mounted out on the fender (though not as far out as was Japanese practice) and you looked into it through the windshield. It was at least remote controlled via a cable controller. But the view area was really small compared with mirrors that were closer to the driver. I thought it looked cool, but was not very pleasant to use.
I’ve always been curious why some JDM cars have the 2 on the fender approach, but some SUV’s have 2 door mounted mirrors, and 1 fender mounted mirror, like on this Shogun.
The mirror mounted forward on the left fender encompasses the driver’s left side blind spot.
The small mirror on the nose is referred to (at least in Nissan cataloging) as an “Under mirror”. It’s a convex mirror that’s there to show the left side of the vehcile, to make parking and positioning easier. They work surprisingly well for such a small mirror. It’s hard to make out detail, but you can see the contrast between the side of the vehcile and the curb reasonably easily.
My old 1992 C33 Nissan Laurel had factory fender mirrors – I had no dramas adjusting them though as they were electric, operating from the same dashboard control that operates the door mirrors in other Laurels. I found them surprisingly easy to get used to, and the first time I towed a caravan they proved brilliant! They allowed a full view down the side of both the car and caravan. They combined with the flat bonnet and stand-up hood ornament to make it dead easy to position the car on any road – although they also combined to create a sense of sailing a ship…
Nissan was still offering fender mirrors on the Laurel, Cedric, Gloria and President (aka Infiniti Q45) until at least the late 90s – which was ironic, as Nissan was the first JDM manufacturer to win approval for door-mounted mirrors in Japan (on the C32 Nissan Laurel). Random President from the interwebs:
Can’t forget the “jeepney” made in the Philippines, an entire unique class of jeep-styled vehicles made by numerous small manufacturers using new frames and bodies and Japanese engines. They can be an MB replica or stretched into a minibus, built on a jeep-style frame and body or an entirely different truck chassis with a sedan or modern SUV body, and who knows how many other variations. It is a fascinating cross-cultural development.
I knew these existed but the 1998 part surprises me – you’d think when the Montero came out in the early ’80s that would be the end of the license-built Mitsubishi Jeeps.
I would like to see a vehicle like this return to North America.
If the body and frame was made highly rust resistant and reasonably lightweight,
a small 6 would be sufficient to power it.
However, it’s drag coefficient must be very poor.
Some of these Mitsubishi Jeep knock offs have been imported to NZ not many but occasionally I see them for sale.
Indeed, in the glory days of the ’90’s and early 2000’s there were quite a few being imported, mainly in the short wheelbase soft top diesel. But I haven’t seen one in ages.
The reason for fender mounted mirrors on Japanese cars for many years
was to keep the overall width down. Since cars were taxed on width, placing the mirrors there enabled them to squeak under the limits.
When the tax structure was revised in the late 80s, fender mirrors went away.
In keeping with the Kaiser connection, Mitsubishi also built Henry Js under license in the early 50s.
I want one! This one! Very cool find.
Fender mounted mirrors can be more “inboard” than door mounted ones. Useful where streets are narrow and parking spaces extremely tight.
Check this one out for sale in Roy,Wa. It looks almost exactly the same but not a 4-door. They call it a “maverick jeep” and judging by the custom political signage on the back its probably been untouched since the 70’s or early 80’s.
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