Home » Look At This Fantastic Mitsubishi Minica A Reader Sent Us Pictures Of: Cold Start

Look At This Fantastic Mitsubishi Minica A Reader Sent Us Pictures Of: Cold Start

Cs Minica1
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You know what’s a fantastic little car that’s not particularly well-known? The first-generation Mitsubishi Minica. Autopian reader Andrew Flores has imported a 1969 one and seems to now be selling it here, and has thoughtfully sent us the link and some pictures to this charmingly rugged little machine. This little car is the start of Mitsubishi’s passenger car ventures, and what I like about it is that unlike many of the tiny, Kei-class Japanese cars of the 360cc era, the Minica feels like an adapted truck or utility vehicle as opposed to a tiny passenger car. And the reason for that is pretty simple: it was one.

The Minica was derived from the Mitsubishi 360 truck and utility vehicles, little machines that were very much like conventional pickup trucks, just scaled down. They had very conventional drivetrains that would be familiar to Ford F-150s across the Pacific: front longitudinal engines driving rear wheels with live axles and leaf springs all around. The biggest difference is that the engines were tiny inline-twins instead of inline sixes or V8s.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

 

Cs Mitsu360 Brochure

Look at that adorable little truck! I love it! I love the very rugged, no-bullshit truck-like styling, just in friendly pocket form. In 1962, the Mitsubishi 360 truck was adapted into the Minica sedan, and the styling remained largely the same, just with a new, stylish rear end:

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Cs Minica 4

The inset rear window is a nice stylish touch, and there’s a useful little trunk back there in place of a pickup bed. It’s quite stylish! And up front, it still has that rugged styling from the pickup, making a unique and handsome package that stands out from early Japanese Kei cars.

Cs Minica 3

There’s hardly any of these in America, so seeing one for sale is pretty remarkable. $15,000 is a good chunk of change for something that most likely isn’t going to get you anywhere near highway speeds, but I’d have trouble not being charmed by this little thing.

Plus, a four-on-the-tree! That’s always fun. Why did it take American cars so long to offer four speeds on base models, anyway?

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Thanks for showing us this little gem, Andrew. Also, I bet you could bake a really fun-looking pound cake in those hubcaps.

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Scott
Scott
3 months ago

I’ve been a bit busy and not logged in much over the holidays, so pardon my belated comment, but it’s lovely to have you back again Jason! 🙂

SurvivedAPintoCrash
SurvivedAPintoCrash
3 months ago

https://www.mitsubishi-motors.com/en/company/history/car/images/9_02.jpg
I think my family had two of these ones (one for parts?)

Brodygator
Brodygator
3 months ago

Japanese metal recycling yards like to keep these old cars around as what seems like “trophies.” Pretty cool to drive by and see automotive history even though the cars aren’t in good shape:

Mazda Carol
https://maps.app.goo.gl/n7rWhDdxxdcxLXac6?g_st=ic

4 different cars
https://maps.app.goo.gl/3rh8nZhxYbMX7DB28?g_st=ic

S13 Sedan
S13 Sedan
3 months ago

I’ll be honest, most kei cars from about the early 90s to current day do absolutely nothing for me. They’re neat I guess but they’re just not my thing.

However, I do absolutely love Showa era kei cars, especially really early ones like this. In my opinion, they tend to have so much more character and are so much more interesting. The first gen Mazda Carol and first gen Suzuki Cervo are some of my favorites from the two stroke era.

Piston Slap Yo Mama
Piston Slap Yo Mama
3 months ago
Reply to  S13 Sedan

Yep, a 1st gen Carol would be the bomb. Related: attend the Tokyo Motor Show – there’s a museum adjacent it full of this era’s microcars. One of the best days of my life was spent there back in 2019.

Parked in my carport is an ’89 Pao which is as close as I can get to that early Kei styling and still have a car that can sorta keep up with modern traffic.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
3 months ago

Love the ground clearance. Wonder if you could shoehorn a v4 in there to Rallye-ize it?

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
3 months ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

Always a day dream of mine; many years ago I made some sketches to see if a Honda VFR800 engine could be accommodated and it ought to work just fine.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
3 months ago
Reply to  Vetatur Fumare

(Makes buzzing engine sounds):WHEEE!

Toecutter
Toecutter
3 months ago

I love how the back end slightly resembles that of a Trabant!

Chronometric
Chronometric
3 months ago

And suicide doors! What a cool little car.

Mike Smith
Mike Smith
3 months ago
Reply to  Chronometric

Thanks for pointing that out! I wouldn’t have noticed otherwise.

Larry B
Larry B
3 months ago

I can’t help but think this is the result of a Fiat 124 and Citroen 2CV one night stand.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
3 months ago
Reply to  Larry B

Or maybe a Ford Anglia somewhere in there…

Flyingstitch
Flyingstitch
3 months ago

This is the rare Kei car that doesn’t look like it fell, Wile E. Coyote style, from a great height. I love it.

A. Barth
A. Barth
3 months ago

the styling remained largely the same, just with a new, stylish rear end

That’s my new year’s resolution!

Also there is some fun to be had in making custom badging for it: minicab, minicat, minicar, minicad (for those saucy days), etc.

Or just subtly work in an original Austin Mini badge and tell people that Mitsubishi built them first and the British licensed the design. (Minicaper?)

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
3 months ago

Minica is how Bostonians refer to small autos.

Interesting that Mitsubishi used the reverse process of going from pickup to passenger space than Holden, Ford, and Chrysler in Australia, as well as Subaru( BRAT, Baja) Hyundai (Santa Cruz), Ford (Ranchero), GM (El Camino/Sprint), Chrysler (Rampage/Scamp), Morris (Minor/Mini Pickup) and others did by adapting passenger cars to utes.

Cool little truck. Happy new year!

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
3 months ago

Dammit Torch, now I’m hungry for pound cake. I’m gonna go get some breakfast.

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
3 months ago
Reply to  MATTinMKE

Now I need to go and buy a pound cake after the New Year’s wake and bake.
Thanks a lot Torch!
Glad to see more from you amigo.

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