“Mitsubishi Minica Part 2”
***** (K|C|F) *****
( 三菱 自動車 工業 株式 会社 )
[ The Mitsubishi 360 / Minica ]
Mitsubishi Minica 1962 – 2011 (昭和37-平成23 三菱 ミニカ)
[ Part Two: 4th – 8th Generation 1977 – 2011 ]
The Mitsubishi Minica was first produced by Shin Mitsubishi Heavy-Industries from 1962 – 1964, it was one of 3 regional Mitsubishi Heavy Industry (MHI) auto companies, until they all merged in 1964. In Japan, it was sold at a specific retail chain called ‘Galant Shop‘. In 2011, after 8 Generations of production, the Minica was replaced by the Mitsubishi eK.
The 4th Generation (1977 – 1984)
In June 1977 the car and engine grew once again, creating the Minica Ami 55. While the side body panels remained the same, length increased yet a little more (3175 mm) and the entire car was widened by 10 mm (0.4 in). The updated 546cc Vulcan 2G23 engine provided 31 PS (23 kW) for the (A105A). Its sibling, the Minica 55 Van (A105V) was updated in March 1977 and was almost impossible to distinguish from the previous Minica 5 Van, apart from badging and a slightly less plasticky front end. The bigger engine provided some useful additional torque, but the sporting Minicas of the early 1970’s were now a memory. The traditional and unusual amongst kei-cars Panhard layout remained.
Minica Ami 55 XL: (A105A)
September 1978 brought another engine upgrade. The new Vulcan II G23B featured the lean burn MCA – Jet emissions control system with a hemispherical head, aluminium rocker arms and 3-valves per cylinder, but power outputs remained the same. The model code became (A106), with (A106V) used for the Van which continued to use the bodywork of the 2nd Generation.
In September 1981 the car received another redesign. An entire new rear end meant a slightly longer wheelbase, up to 2,050 mm and a somewhat longer and taller body. The somewhat boxy rear end, still with a clamshell rear window, looked a bit incongruous paired with the original Minica F4 front wings and doors. The new Minica was renamed the Minica Ami L (A107A), but bigger news was that the Minica 55 Van, based on the 1969 A100V, was finally retired. The new (A107V) Minica Econo, ‘Econo‘ hinting at its primary use as a private economy car rather than as a commercial vehicle, looked very similar to the Ami L but featured a proper rear hatch and folding rear seat, allowing it to be registered as a light commercial vehicle like its competitors the Daihatsu Mira, Suzuki Alto & Subaru Rex. Cargo capacity, compared to the more workmanlike Minica 55 Van, was reduced from 300 to 200 kgs (441 lb).
The Minica Econo: (A107V)
A 2-speed, semi-automatic gearbox was also available on all models, while the standard 4-speed manual received lower gearing for the Econo model. The engine was quieter than before, featuring a milder cam profile. Power output of the G23B remained the same, although the Econo was stuck with a 29 PS (21 kW) version of the old 2G23 engine. Top speed of the Ami was 110 kph (68 mph). In December 1981 a strict 2-seater version of the Econo was added. One year later, the Minica was sold with the new ‘MMC‘ logo rather than the old ‘three diamonds‘. In March 1983 the Minica Ami L Turbo became the first kei-car to be offered with a turbocharger, offering 39 PS (29 kW) and glitzy graphics. This proved short-lived, as by January 1984 production of the A107 Minica’s had ended, with Mitsubishi preparing for the release of an all new, front-wheel drive Minica.
The 5th Generation (1984 – 1989)
The 5th-generation Minica was introduced in February 1984 as a front-engined, front-wheel drive vehicle for the first time. It offered 3 & 5-door configurations, increased size and a torsion beam/coil spring rear suspension. It retained the G23B engine, but modernised with a timing belt rather than the old noisy timing chain. The Minica Sedan had 33 PS (24 kW), the Econo 31 PS (23 kW) and the Turbo gained an intercooler and now offered 42 PS (31 kW). Air conditioning finally became an option.
The 5th Generation Minica
In September 1985 a 4WD model with a live rear axle was introduced. This generation was the first to reach export markets, usually labelled Mitsubishi Towny, originally with a 2-cylinder 783 cc engine and a 4-speed manual transmission. Later in 1987 it received a 3-cylinder 796 cc engine with 45 PS (33 kW) and a 5-speed gearbox, also manufactured locally by CMC Motors in Taiwan only as a 5-door, and 3-door panel van was also marketed abroad.
January 1989 Minica
The 6th Generation (1989 – 1993)
Minica Dangan ZZ
In January 1989 the 6th Generation Minica was officially introduced, although the engine, wheelbase, and suspension remained unchanged. In addition to the 3 & 5-door models, a variant with a single door on the right side, 2 doors on the passenger side, and a lift gate was introduced, named the ‘Minica Lettuce‘, yes Lettuce !!
The Mitsubishi Lettuce
An advanced new turbo engine with double overhead cams and the world’s first mass-produced 5-valve-per-cylinder engine was introduced for the Dangan ZZ AWD (all-wheel drive), producing 64 PS (47 kW). It was later made available in naturally aspirated form as well, while the older design engine was also increased in displacement to 657 cc in March 1990 when the kei-car regulations were again updated. A tall 3-door MPV model with optional 4WD, the ‘Minica Toppo‘, was introduced in 1990. Export versions were still usually carrying the Towny label and featured an 800 cc 41 PS (30 kW) engine.
( The 1990 Minica Toppo )
[ In Popular Culture ]
(The Dangan ZZ-4 appears in Kat’s Run: Zen-Nippon K Car Senshuken in Nintendo’s Super Famicom)
The 7th Generation (1993 – 1998)
The 7th Generation Minica:
The Toppo BJ
In September 1993, the 7th Generation 3 & 5-door Minica & Minica Toppo were introduced, with a longer wheelbase. The 5-valve per cylinder 3-cylinder engines were replaced with a pair of 659cc 4-cylinder engines, one normally aspirated with single overhead cam and 4-valves per cylinder, and one turbocharged with double overhead cam and 5-valves per cylinder. A version of the Toppo with 2 doors on the passenger side, similar to the Lettuce, was made available, along with a limited edition RV (recreational vehicle) version. In January 1997 versions of the Minica & Toppo with retro-styled front ends were introduced as the ‘Town Bee‘ model, and exported to Taiwan as the Towny.
Minica Town Bee (Retro Styled)
The 8th Generation (1998 – 2011)
Coupé: 1998 – 2007 / Sedan: 1998 – 2011
The enlarged 8th Generation Minica was introduced in October 1998 to take advantage of the new regulations, as 3 & 5-door Sedans with torsion beam rear suspension and optional 4WD, with the only available engine the 657cc 3-cylinder overhead cam unit, now equipped with 4-valves per cylinder. A 5-door MPV built on this platform but with a 4-cylinder DOHC (double overhead cam) 5-valves per cylinder turbocharged engine, known as the ‘Mitsubishi Toppo BJ‘ was also introduced.
The 8th Generation Minica
In January 1999 the retro-styled ‘Town Bee‘ version of this generation of Minica and the ‘Mitsubishi Toppo BJ Wide‘ were introduced. In October 1999 a 659cc 4-cylinder SOHC (single overhead cam) 4-valves per cylinder turbocharged engine was introduced, and in December 1999 a limited edition of 50 ‘Mitsubishi Pistachios‘ with a 1,094 cc DOHC 4-valves per cylinder direct-injection engine was made available only to organisations working to protect the environment. In October 2001 a 5-door Wagon version of the Minica was introduced as the ‘Mitsubishi eK Wagon‘, and now serves as Mitsubishi’s primary product in the kei class.
The eK Wagon
(The replacement Mitsubishi eK uses the same platform as the Minica)
The “Mitsubishi Minica” in Computer Games :
1995 Minica in Kat’s Run – Zennihon K Car Senshuken, 1995; ’95 Minica Toppo inKat’s Run – Zennihon K Car Senshuken, 1995; ’90 Minica in Gran Turismo 2, 1999; ’98 Minica in Gran Turismo 2, 1999; ’97 Minica in Top Gear: Dare Devil, 2000: ’89 Minica in Gran Turismo 4, 2004; ’89 Minica in Gran Turismo 5, 2010; ’89 ‘Minica in Gran Turismo 6, 2013.