In a recent foray into the wilds of El Cerrito, I spotted this fantastic 1972 Ford Country Sedan, and a few days later came across a quite different interpretation of the same theme – a vehicle to drive across the country and find post-Corona America.
It’s a Mitsubishi Fuso FG 4×4 “Canter”, conveniently parked in our favorite post-apocalyptical supply store. I talked to the owners, they nominally live in California, but are “traveling constantly”. I mentioned “Montana”, and they said “Yes”.
Plenty of storage for tools on this side. The owners told me what year it was, I cannot quite remember but I think 2015. This model is unique to the United States, and was produced until 2017, though there are rumors that Mitsubishi Fuso may bring it back. The owners told me that “you used to be able to buy them pretty cheaply, but then they became popular”. Mitsubishi Fuso is majority-owned by Daimler Trucks, so the FG is in some sense is in competition with versions of the Unimog, though the Unimog is no longer sold in North America.
This Mitsubishi has been outfitted with a custom body specifically designed for rugged travel in the harshest conditions, even bringing some bicycles along in case the trail gets too narrow for the Mitsu.
The owner said his primary modification apart from the body was substitution of these special 4×4 tires and wheels (he called them “super-singles”) for the stock setup. He said the equation was pretty simple – 5 wheels/tires (including the spare), $5000. Sorry this photo is a bit cropped, I was dealing with a really bright sun that made it almost impossible for me to take pictures and look at the screen at the same time.
Plenty of room for fuel on this side.
These Mitsus have an integrated transmission/transfer case, consisting of a 6-speed dual-clutch automated-manual transmission (AMT) and single-speed transfer case. The driveline-mounted parking brake is an interesting choice. The newest versions of these (though as mentioned, the 4×4 is not currently available) have the same basic powertrain but have upgraded to dual-caliper vacuum/hydraulic disc brakes. I wonder, perhaps the disc brakes had been available in other markets for a while, and the driveline-mounted parking brake was a simple solution that covered both brake options?
It’s pretty compact down there.
The front axle looks to have Rzeppa-style (“CV”) joints, the largest I have seen, and drum brakes.
I wonder how easy these are to service? It’s been my impression that tilt-cabs often provide a lot of easy access to components, making up at least partially for the inconvenience of having to tilt the cab. Looks pretty jam-packed up in there, to me.
I found the spec sheet for the 2017 version of this truck, which confirms the drum brakes and locking hubs, but also implies the hub locks as well as the front axle engagement are push-button, in particular for the transmission “electro-vacuum operated”. It has a 3.0 L, 4-stroke, intercooled, 4-cylinder turbocharged diesel making 161 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. Our intrepid explorers may be able to go anywhere, but they will not be going anywhere very fast.
Our friends in the Ford Country Sedan might not be going anywhere quickly either, but they definitely have a willing travel companion.
According to the owner, who was actively waiting in line at the El Cerrito Burger King and so couldn’t talk for long, it’s a “Country Sedan”, not the more familiar “Country Squire“, which would have come with the fake wood appliques. He was a very happy fellow, he and his dog, awaiting his (their?) burgers, ready to go anywhere. Maybe not quite as “anywhere” as in the Mitsu, but definitely with quite a bit more style.
Neither of these two vehicles is currently available brand-new, though from reading various enthusiast sites, there exist a number of outfitters which will create one of these Mitsus from a 4×2 model, at a price, of course. I don’t know how hard it would be to find a cherry 1972 Ford Country Sedan, but perhaps a Squire would do in a pinch. Which one would you choose?