This week, while looking in a local junkyard for a part for my newest COAL (yes, you knew it had to happen sooner or…uh, ok, sooner), I came across this often forgotten sibling of the Mitsubishi Expo LRV. You can be forgiven if you forgot about the Mitsubishi as well as they didn’t have a hugely successful career on the sales floor either. This particular one is a 1993, they were offered in the US between 1992 and 1996.
Although offered for five years, these wagons never seemed particularly common, either in Mitsu or (especially) Eagle form. The Eagle Summit Wagon was just a rebadged version of the Mitsubishi Expo LRV (RVR in other markets) and obviously was created to help fill out Eagle showrooms.
Eagle didn’t take any great pains to try to hide the Mitsubishi roots, the engine clearly has the donor’s name on it. A 1.8liter 4-cylinder, this engine was offered in various Mitsubishi and by extension, Dodge, Plymouth, and Eagle branded vehicles.
For an inexplicable reason I was a big fan of these (well, more the Mitsu version) when they were new and for some time thereafter. I’m not entirely sure why, but I think I liked the shape, and I found the single sliding door interesting as well (but wasn’t interested in “real” minivans at the time at all). I tried to open this one but it was either locked or jammed and I didn’t exactly feel like crawling into it to investigate the situation further.
There is a white one in town (also an Eagle) that I’ve been trying to take pictures of for a few years now but it always eludes me. It’s sort of my Moby Dick I guess. Come to think of it I haven’t seen it in many months now, maybe it’s gone for good. So I was excited to see this one, in this extremely 90’s shade of teal no less.
Jason Fish Automotive in Iowa appears to be a used car dealer so who knows where this guy came from originally. The rust around the side sill and wheel arch areas hints that it was from at least there and likely even further east.
An AWD version was available as well which probably would have been handy out here or whereever it came from. Until today I somehow had no idea that this was even available in AWD, back in the 90’s I would have harbored fantasies about one with a transplanted engine from an Eclipse Turbo…They should have rallied that instead of the Lancer Evo.
This area is probably where the little Cub Scout that was referenced in the window’s bumper sticker hung out, well, with the seat rear unfolded of course. Now there’s just a clutch plate back here, who knows where that came from since this one is an automatic. Still, with the seat folded as here, there is quite a bit of cargo space. That hatch opening is quite tall for something with this small of a footprint.
The seats look fairly comfortable with a very durable cloth, beyond that it’s acres of gray and black plastic. Actually the whole interior looks pretty good considering all the rust on the sides; this seems to have seen a lot of wet weather. This one also has the universally despised motorized seatbelts but is very basic otherwise.
That there is some bare bones instrumentation, but still quite attractive and easy to read. 135,000 miles isn’t a huge number by 90’s standards, and there isn’t any crash damage, so likely something mechanical went horribly wrong (timing belt or transmission?).
Here’s the side without a slider. Apparently the right hand drive markets have a slider on this side instead which makes sense. The next logical step would be to just build it with sliders on both but presumably cost, weight, and/or structural reasons precluded that at the time.
Of course, as we all know, a one sided sliding door minivan would be a non-starter these days but for some reason a full size passenger or cargo van is considered perfectly adequate even today with a slider on the passenger side only which is maybe a little odd if you think about it. Actually I think perhaps VW does offer sliders on both sides on the European market Transporter, are there others?
It does not appear that there is much demand for parts from this van as it was remarkably complete. Of course it could have just been placed in the yard very recently but most other vehicles were more picked over and there were a fair amount of people there on a mid-week morning. I guess it will be out here for some time yet before it goes for its final voyage into the shredder…