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MM_History

 

Minicab

Defining Versatility on a Mini Scale

In 1966, the Minicab was introduced in answer to the growing demand for light commercial vehicles. This cab-over style mini truck was powered by an air cooled, 2-stroke, 359cc engine with a maximum output of 20ps. To simplify loading and unloading, cargo gates were strategically placed on three sides. In 1986, a van was added to the lineup, offering four basic variations; Super Deluxe Van, Deluxe Van, Standard Van and Route Van.

In 1971, the Minicab underwent its first model change. Newly named, the Minicab EL, it offered a comfortable new interior, improved ease of operation and provided a longer cargo bed. Riding comfort was dramatically upgraded with the adoption of a front wishbone and rear leaf spring suspension. In 1972, a panel van was added to the lineup and, to further extend the range of choice, the Minicab W, with a different engine but identical in all other respects to the Minicab EL, was launched later the same year. With vehicle regulation changes allowing increased engine capacity for vehicles in this class, like the Minica 5, the Minicab 5 was released incorporating an engine with an increased capacity of 550cc.

In 1977, the 3rd generation Minicab was introduced. In keeping with the changes in vehicle tax regulations, the Minicab Wide 55 featured an increase in both body width and length and adopted an engine which the year before increased its output capacity. In addition to the increased head room, it featured a defroster for enhancing visibility, a central console box for added convenience and a central ventilation system to markedly improve interior climate control.

In 1981, Mitsubishi dropped the "Wide 55" from the Minicab name as the public was now well aware of the increase in body size and engine capacity which this class of vehicles enjoyed under the regulation changes of 1976. A rear window wiper, an electronic locking/unlocking rear gate and power brakes were adopted to further upgrade convenience and driveability. In 1982, the MCA-JET G23B engine and a 2-speed, part-time 4WD were integrated into the lineup. A high-roof van, appropriately named the Estate Van, was added to the Minicab series to reflect a more people-oriented touch in its application. It featured interior appointments such as a wide rear bench seat and an exterior styling emphasizing high quality. Since this model focused on personal transport, interior space for passengers was deemed top priority and as a result the cargo space capacity was reduced from 300kg to 200kg. (A 300kg payload was retained for Minicab models aimed at the commercial sector.) A silent chain transfer was adopted on the front and rear direct transfer on 4WD equipped models to further increase interior quietness. Then, to eliminate the wheel housing bulge, the Flat-floor Van model adopted a double-walled construction to offer a flat, open cargo area.

In yet another full model change, the 4th generation Minicab was introduced in 1984. Although improvements were made to enhance the Minicab's commercial applications, the most noticeable changes were made to support personal leisure activities. Angular headlamps played an important role in the Minicab's distinctive styling, along with larger windows to improve visibility and adding to touring pleasure. With fifteen 4WD and 2WD van model variations and some ten 4WD and 2WD truck variations, there was a Minicab to address almost every user need. The 4th generation Minicab incorporated many class-leading features such as an automatic free-wheel hub adopted on all 4WD models. 2WD models led the class with a turning radius of a mere 3.7 meters. The Estate models featured the first sliding sunroof in their class. The 32ps Vulcan II engine coupled with a precise 5-speed manual transmission ensured spritely performance. Then, in 1987, the Minicab incorporated the first supercharged engine in its class.

In 1989, the Estate van was introduced under the new name of Bravo. This new breed of the Minicab series was placed at the head of the line as a personal transporter. With distinct exterior styling of its own, the Bravo boasted larger window and seats, and other interior appointments which were human-engineered to improve overall comfort. A full-time 4WD and a special version adopting a larger bumper and advanced aerodynamic qualities were also added to the new Bravo lineup.

Tax regulations were again changed in 1990 to allow increased dimensions and engine capacity for vehicles in this class. The 5th generation Minicab released in 1991 adopted a completely redesigned body and took full advantage of the new tax regulations by increasing the wheelbase and upgrading the engine capacity from 550cc to 660cc. Both the Minicab van, tuned more towards commercial applications, and the Bravo, tuned toward personal use, incorporated the latest technologies to markedly improve versatility, ease of operation and comfort. The Minicab lineup offers a choice of three engines: a standard 4-valve, SOHC unit; a 50ps, 5-valve, DOHC unit; and a 2-valve, SOHC unit (adopted in some of the truck models). To further simplify driving operations, a 3-speed automatic transmission is offered on the Bravo 4WD models. For the part-time 4WD models, transfer between 2WD mode and 4WD mode is available at a touch of a button. A tilt-up glass type sunroof for the front and a sliding rear sunroof are featured on the Bravo lineup to add to touring pleasure. The adoption of the super arrangement seat allows for greater interior versatility, and power steering greatly simplifies maneuvering operations. In total, the Minicab lineup, which include the Bravo, Minicab van, Minicab truck and Minicab special purpose vehicles, offers an astounding 66 model variations.

In 1999, Mitsubishi introduced the Townbox multi-space mini-wagon. Replacing the Bravo, this new fun-to-use semi-cabover type minicar offers spacious comfort qualities previously unheard of in its class. The Townbox's design employs a center midship layout to realize a semi-cabover styling on a long wheelbase, resulting in passenger and luggage space that is top in its class. The distinctive exterior styling of the Townbox is accentuated by the large airdam-style bumpers, twin bulb halogen headlights with clear-cut lenses and large combination lamp unit at the rear. Tax regulations again changed in 1998 to allow increased size for vehicles in this class.The new-regulation size body offers a 100mm longer wheelbase and a 80mm wider tread than its predecessor. Its new shape and design results in larger crushable zones and all-direction crash safety levels on a par with a sub-compact size vehicle. The Townbox offers 4WD models that incorporate Mitsubishi's Easy Select all-wheel drive system that allows the driver to change between 2WD and 4WD-high range modes at speeds of up to 80km/h. Models with MVV engine and 5-speed manual transmission are fitted with a Lo-Hi range transfer. The Townbox models offer a choice of two fuel-efficient, ecology-conscious engines. The new 3G83 MVV leanburn 3-cylinder 12-valve SOHC engine is tuned for bottom-end and mid-range torque and delivers peppy power, and the 4A30, 4 cylinder 20-valve DOHC intercooler-turbocharger engine offers excellent efficiency from low-engine speeds to deliver outstanding take-off and smooth acceleration. The engines are integrated with either a 4-speed automatic transmission or a 5-speed manual transmission.

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