If there a vehicle that both obscure and renown, the Mitsubishi Delcia just might be it. Favorite among the explorers and the overlanders of the world, the Delica packs reliability, ability, space, and affordability into one efficient package. The Delcia was never sold in the United States by Mitsubishi but its more basic cousin van was, albeit in relatively low numbers.
The third generation of the Delica is the one that most people prefer. Made in what many consider to be Mitsubishi’s heydays, it is modern enough to be reliable and comfortable but old enough to be cool. Since it has been more than twenty-five years since its introduction, the Delica is now legal for importation into the U.S. Judging by the sticker on the back of this little van, there is a shop in Philadelphia that specializes in these vehicles.
The Delica is basically a small, raised, 4×4 van. But it is not just an AWD van like the modern Toyota Sienna. Rather, the Delica’s is a part-time system that is based off the legendary Pajero, with two-speed transfercase. Some models had a limited-slip rear differential and some had a locking one. It has a live axle and leaf springs in the rear. Suspension lift kits, bigger tires, snorkels, brush guards, and skid plates are often affixed to Delicas.
While vans are not typically known for their off-road prowess, there have historically been several. One example is the UAZ 452, which was based on the UAZ 469B. Toyota 4×4 Van (it had many names) was a direct competitor to the Delica. One that everyone knows is of course the Volkswagen Vanagon Syncro. They all had the same purpose – maximizing interior space by moving the controls forward, maintaining a small footprint, while minimizing the compromise of off-road ability.
Of those vans, for various reasons, the Delica and the Syncro are the most popular ones. While both look cool and are equally functional, only one of them is realistically attainable and it’s not the veedub. Prices for VW vans, especially the 4WD Syncro and campers, are astronomical these days. But the freshly imported twenty-five your old Delicas can be had for under $15,000. They also come with a healthy diesel engine which might make them easier to drive, if any faster than the VW.
The Delica pictured here was parked right in the busy Hanover Street in the North End section of Boston. With New York plates, these people are either taking a short trip to New England or starting their own Bowman Odyssey. If there is a downside, is that this right-hand-drive vehicle has its side sliding door on the left side, which means accessing it from the road side and the curb side. Either way, they have chosen a totally cool vehicle to do it. Enjoy the trip, I hope you stacked up on cannolis!