CC Capsule: 1980 Mitsubishi Jeep J36 Wagon – Just A Tad Over The Top

It’s hard to resist these Mitsubishi Jeep wagons at the best of times, but this one was really drop dead gorgeous. The two-tone paintwork, the ample chrome, the interior – it was almost looking like a real ‘60s survivor. But looks can be deceiving, especially when they make a good first impression.

And how could one not get a good first impression when staring at this bright and jolly Jeep face? Seven slots of iconic!

And this is one of the few Jeeps where the rear end almost matches the front. Bumtastic!

I wrote up another one of these last year. It was black with a white roof and a bit less pristine / over-restored than this one, but if you want the low-down on the whole Mitsu-Jeep tie-up, do click on that post. I won’t bother with the historical background here.

Just a brief recap then: the Mitsubishi Jeep 4-door wagon started life in 1961 and changed remarkable little until production stopped in 1983. One major overhaul occurred in 1970, when the J30 became J36 and had a few noticeable changes, such as free-standing turn signals and a new steering wheel. The photo above illustrates what a stock J36 looked like in the ‘70s.

Circa 1980, the J36 got one last relatively big change: the two wipers moved over a bit and got a third colleague. And that’s what our Jeep has, so it’s clearly a late model. No amount of whitewall tyres and aftermarket chromed turn signals could alter that.

The whitewalls are a bit much (and a bit suspect), but the rest isn’t too bad. The two-tone is stock – most civilian J36s came off the production line looking like this. Very nice. The other extras, such as the old-style fog lamps, I could take or leave, but they don’t detract from the whole experience.

That interior sure was sweet, too. The huge ugly hi-fi/radio aside, everything looks fine. Well, actually, that steering wheel was taken from a J30, though those usually had a full horn ring, not a half like this one does. Looks like there is an extra (aftermarket?) HVAC in here as well.

I hadn’t photographed the rear quarters in my previous post about these 4-door Jeeps, which is an unforgivable oversight on my part. After all, the extra doors are this Mitsu Jeep’s main claim to fame, so it should be incumbent upon any CContributor worth his soy sauce to show where those door lead. Fixed now.

Unless I find an early-model J30 (i.e. from the ‘60s) that is ready, willing and able to be photographed, I doubt I will hit another one of these Jeeps again. For one thing, they’re not too common (though I have seen more than my fair share), and for another, I doubt any can top this and the black one I caught last year. Maybe a complete wreck would be interesting to document, just to see what they’re like underneath…

As it stands though, I’ll let the Jeep wagons escape my net for the foreseeable future. The Mitsubishi I really want to catch now is a first generation Debonair. I’ve seen about four or five now, but I’ve never been able to find one standing still. One day, one day…


Related posts:


Curbside Classic: 1981 Mitsubishi Jeep J36 – Six Doors And Three Wipers Ago…, by T87

CC Follow-Up: Jeep Station Wagon by Mitsubishi, by Dave Skinner