The classic Mitsubishi Minica is an overlooked and underappreciated vehicle that you may not be familiar with. Although the Minica has a rich history spanning half a century, it was never sold in North America. Mitsubishi mainly distributed the vehicle domestically in Japan. You may be unable to get your hands on this beauty if you live in the United States, but car buffs can still appreciate the rich history and practical design of this timeless vehicle.
The History of the Mitsubishi Minica
The Minica was originally manufactured by Shin Mitsubishi Heavy-Industries, which was one of three automotive companies from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has a long history that dates back to 1917, but Mitsubishi Motors didn’t officially exist until 1964.
Mitsubishi’s classic Minica came on the Japanese car scene at an incredibly ideal time. The Japanese economy was starting to regain strength after the financial repercussions of losing the Second World War, and Japanese citizens were beginning to look for affordable city cars that were both attractive and practical.
The first generation Mitsubishi Minica came out in 1962 and was based on the design of the Mitsubishi 360, a light truck that featured a Mitsubishi ME21/24 engine. The first Minica was first introduced as a Kei car. Kei (short for keijidōsha) translates as “light automobile,” and they are essentially Japanese city cars or microcars.
First Generation Minica Specifications
The first generation Mitsubishi Minica sported a 2-stroke, 2-cylinder air-cooled 359cc engine and an output of 17 hp. This two-door sedan had rear-wheel drive with a suspension that featured a single beam in the back of the car and blades in the front and back of the vehicle.
The curb weight of the vehicle was 1,058-1,157 pounds and had a maximum speed of 86 km/h (53 mph). The first generation Mitsubishi Minica underwent an upgrade in late 1964. Mitsubishi equipped the vehicle with an ME24 engine, and the newly upgraded engine had a power output of 18 PS at 4,800 rpm.
In 1967, the first generation Mitsubishi Minica received more adjustments. Mitsubishi modified Minica’s dashboard and upgraded it with a reed valve ME24D, which featured a power output of 21 PS at 5,500 rpm. Consumers also had the option of purchasing a Super Deluxe version of the Mitsubishi Minica, which featured a 2G10 engine that contained a power output of 23 PS at 5,500.
The Mitsubishi Minica Through the Years
After 1969, Mitsubishi released its second iteration of the Minica and continued releasing subsequent generations until 1998. The second-generation Minica came in three different body types: the 3-door sedan, 2-door wagon, and 2-door coupé. The different engines across its five-year run included the 359cc ME24/F air-cooled two-stroke I2, 359cc 2G10 two-stroke I2, 359cc 2G21 SOHC I2, 471cc 2G22 SOHC I2, and 546cc 2G23 SOHC I2.
In late October 1972, Mitsubishi introduced the third generation Minica, or Minica F4, a 3-door sedan that could come with a 359cc 2G21 SOHC I2, 471cc 2G22 SOHC I2, or 546cc 2G23 SOHC I2 engine. During this period, Mitsubishi reduced the equipment levels and sold cheaper versions of the vehicle due to a drop in Kei-car sales.
Across the next 25 years, generation after generation of Minicas came on the car scene until the release of the eighth generation in 1998, which featured a 657cc 3G83 I3 engine and the different transmission options 4MT, 5MT, 3AT, and 4AT. The vehicle was discontinued in 2011, but Mitsubishi introduced the eK Kei-car, which currently stands as the Minica’s successor.
Collector and Classic Car Insurance for Less
You might not be able to find this timeless Japanese classic because it was never sold in North America, but there are many other collector and classic Japanese cars, such as the Nissan Skyline and the Toyota Land Cruiser VX, that you can add to your collection.
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