The History Of Mitsubishi Space GEAR
The Mitsubishi Delica is a range of multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs) built by Mitsubishi Motors since 1969. It was originally based on a small pickup truck introduced the previous year, also called the Delica, its name derived from the English "DELIvery CAr". This truck, and a commercial van derived from it, was later rebadged as L300 and thereafter the Delica nameplate was reserved for the non-commercial market.
The production of the Delica light commercial cab-over pickup began in 1968. Using a KE44 1.1L engine producing 58PS (57hp/ 43kW), its maximum payload was 600kg (1323lb) and had a top end speed of 115km/ h (71mph). A year later, in line with consumer needs, a cargo van and a passenger van were added to the lineup. The passenger van adopted the name Star Wagon and could seat nine people in three rows of seats.
The Delica's popularity meant that in 1979 the line-up was expanded to include ten model variations encompassing a wide variety of passenger, cargo and recreational applications. A four-wheel drive option was made available in 1982, a first in the Japanese van market.
In 1986 the Delica underwent its third full model change. More aerodynamic than previous versions, its monocoque body and extensive safety features proved very popular in Japan's fast-growing recreational vehicle market segment.
Although the subsequent L400 Space Gear was introduced in 1994, the L300 model remained in production in parallel until 1998. Thereafter, Mitsubishi sold badge engineered Mazda Bongos, an arrangement also followed by Hyundai (Grace) and Nissan (Vanette).
The fourth generation is based on the chassis of the Mitsubishi Pajero and has full off road capabilities, with four-wheel drive, high and low ratio gears and differential locking. It has engine variations from 2.5 litres through to a 2.8L intercooled turbodiesel. A 2.4L and a 3.0L V6 petrol engine with 12 or 24 valves, each with 4 gears and overdrive. Apart from the 2.8L diesel model they are available as a two or a four wheel drive version.
Body specifications range from XR, XG, Exceed, Super Exceed and Royal Exceed, and both long and short wheelbase versions were available.
In 1996/ 1997 the Delica Space Gear was upgraded with a facelift model. The upgrade is mostly cosmetic with changes to the lighting clusters and front bodypanel, with the integration of a moulded bumper in place of the original three section bullbar. The engine was upgraded with an electronic control type distribution type jet pump and an electronic sidestep was made standard on the higher specification versions.
On October 30, 2006 Mitsubishi Motors announced that the next generation of its monobox minivan would be called the Delica D:5, based on the Concept D-5 prototype first exhibited at the 39th Tokyo Motor Show in 2005. It is an eight-seater, that features Mitsubishi's AWC four wheel drive system and an INVECS-III continuously variable transmission, coupled to a 4B12 2.4L MIVEC straight-4 engine. Based on a new global GS platform, new Delica features Mitsubishi's next-generation RISE safety body.
It was released in Japan on January 31, 2007, with prices ranging from ¥2,614,500 to ¥3,412,500.
(Sources: Facts & Figures 2000, Facts & Figures 2005, Facts & Figures 2008, Mitsubishi Motors website)
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