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Mitsubishi L200: 70 years of pickup

Yes, at first there was a cross between a motorcycle and a construction car made by the now forgotten Mizushima MVW brand. The 744-cubic 15-strong “vozdushka” of the pre-war construction allowed the mini-freighter to transport one companion and take 0.4 tons of cargo on board. And although the very first production car Made in Japan was called Mitsubishi (the essence of Fiat Tipo 3 with a Kyoto cypress body), this dwarf truck became a truly mass model of “diamonds”. Of course, against the background of the former power of the Mitsubishi empire (in 1945, the Allies smashed the second largest zaibatsu into 44 firms), the motocart looked grotesque, if not rude.

The first post-war Mitsubishi formally was not. The US occupation administration split the second largest zaibatsu into 44 shards like Mizushima Motor Vehicle Works. Nevertheless, his first development was very successful: in 1946-1962. released 91 thousand tricycles – many times more than all the pre-war Mitsubishi combined.
However, like Nippon himself: due to defeat in the war and the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, decadent mood reigned in the country. The industry is destroyed, the economy is in collapse, millions of Japanese are left not so much without work – homeless. Hopelessness was added by the failure of the first post-war years and the impossibility of fishing on the former scales. The fleet of the country, consisting of 6852 islands, was sunk. But the appeal got all less large fishing and commercial vessels. Despair added collapse of transport infrastructure, because of which even the surviving cities and villages were in complete isolation. Therefore, the country where everything was in short supply – asphalt, gasoline, tires – required the most affordable and economical truck. And precisely because of its Spartan design, low price and enviable economy, Mizushima has become an indispensable assistant for small traders, shopkeepers and artisans.

The Leo tricycle (1959) was already produced under the Mitsubishi brand, but was inferior to the “mizushim” in all the main tactical and technical indicators. In addition to comfort: its full-fledged all-metal cab reliably protected the driver and passenger from torrential rains not infrequent in Japan.
But by the end of the 50s, thanks to the help of yesterday’s enemy and the reforms of the Marshall Plan, the country’s economy did not just recover – the seeds of what would later be called the “Japanese miracle” emerged. Along with an increase in wealth, the comfort of Mitsubishi tricycles improved. So, in 1959, Leo appeared with a closed cabin and full-fledged car steering. His 300-cubic motor developed 12.5 liters. with., accelerating pickup to 80 km / h with 300 kg of cargo.

Enumeration of dimensions alone Mitsubishi 360 (2995 × 1295 × 1400 mm) brings a smile. Nevertheless, a 360-cubic cartoon-looking nano-pickup could accelerate to a maximum of 80 km / h. True only empty.
Only in 1967, a full-fledged pick-up truck appeared on the Mitsubishi – in fact, it was the cargo-passenger version of the Colt 1000F (Mirage) compact car. Although interventions in the design were minimal, the model again became a bestseller of the class. Once again, confirming the foresight of the automotive department’s marketers, who had a keen sense of market trends and consumer trends. And the main concern, realizing that this industry promises to become the locomotive of the entire Mitsubishi empire, decided to separate the car industry into a separate structure.

The first full-fledged “three diamonds” pickup appeared in 1967. In fact, it was the first-generation cargo version of the first-generation Colt 1100 F. Thanks to the 1.1-liter 58-horsepower gasoline “four” KE44, it could carry up to half a ton of cargo.
So, in January 1970, there was still living MMC. The correctness of this step was immediately confirmed by Chrysler, having immediately bought 15% of the shares of the neophyte, and three years later, bringing its share to 35%. Such significant investments allowed the Japanese to modernize production, update the model range point-by-point and enter new sales markets.

Although the very first L200 (1978-1986) was initially offered only in one configuration – a two-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive, and the press and buyers met the novelty favorably. The L200 even became the “pickup of the year in the USA” according to the reputable industry magazine Pickup, Van & 4WD.
The idea of ​​a full-fledged pickup truck with a look and comfort level familiar to American tastes was conceived back in 1970. Therefore, the designers of the center of Chrysler style worked on aesthetics and ergonomics. Although the bid was again made on simplicity of design and wide unification (in particular with the Lancer and Galant Σ), the first serial L200 saw the light only eight years later. At the heart of the design is a simple ladder frame, at the back is a continuous rear axle on springs, under the bonnet petrol (1600 cc, 73/92 hp and 2000 cc, 110 hp) and diesel (2300 cubic cm., 67 hp.)

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