Like Driving a Fishbowl: 1994 Mitsubishi Delica Space Gear Exceed 4x4

  • November 16, 2020
Why We Like It

The Delica debuted in Japan in 1968 and slowly became available in various markets around the world. Still in production today, for a period in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s it was offered in the United States to dismal acclaim. Well-appointed and featuring a very configurable interior, it had poor safety marks, an odd driver ingress/egress design, and reliability was spotty, which was great for the competition. Mitsubishi bailed on the US market after only one generation, which was a real shame considering what the following gen had to offer. Launched in 1994, the new Delica was available in Japan as a multitude of models, such as the XR, XG, Exceed, Super Exceed, and Royal Exceed in both long and short wheelbase forms, and 2 or 4-wheel drive. Very popular in more rural, rugged areas, the 4-wheel drive van was actually a very capable off-road vehicle. After a quarter of a century, this generation of Delica, like so many other people movers and utilitarian vehicles of the age, have fallen off the map, becoming a thing of the past and largely disappearing from the market, making better sorted examples like this one a truly exciting find.

like-driving-a-fishbowl-1994-mitsubishi-delica-space-gear-exceed-4x401212 kbKr4hgmK3S 0lM0t2 1200x900On offer near Everett, Washington, this Delica was imported from Japan last year and shows a mere 47k miles on the odometer. By the pictures, it looks like a sweet van, something the seller was trying to keep in the family by way of his wife who would use it as the kid hauler. But after he put an exceptional amount of work into the van including correcting an air-fuel problem, dialing in the turbo, deleting the EGR to eliminate the black soot, installing new air, fuel, and oil filters, purging the injectors with diesel moly, installing new tires, and new front and rear wipers, she wasn’t interested. That said, there are minor rust issues, the air conditioning doesn’t work, the left power mirror motor doesn’t work, the timing belt should be replaced within the next 5k miles, and there are a few small dents and body issues – keep in mind, it’s 26 years old.

All that aside, it’s powered by the 2.8L turbo diesel engine with intercooler, is a 4WD model with high-low differential lock, has the High Roof with Crystal Lite Roof, power sunshade opener, rear Terzo ladder, bush bar, side steps, power windows, power cargo door, and much more. It’s also wearing new BF Goodrich T/A KO2 off road tires with custom wheels, while an aftermarket steering wheel gives it a rebellious punch and the new stereo features backup camera and Bluetooth. Part of the beauty of these vans is the versatility, not just in the off-road capability, but inside. This one features variable rear seating positions with 360-degree swiveling chairs, and all seats fold flat allowing for a completely flat floor. While all that is cool, it’s the Crystal Lite Roof that usually draws the most attention, and why shouldn’t it? Big, curved glass panels straddling the edges of the roof are reminiscent of the old VW multi-window buses, which incidentally, legend has it were originally conceived by a Swiss tour company that wanted to offer guests a better view of the 6LP7S5L39r0 0CI0sV 1200x900

Overall, the condition seems very nice, the upholstery shows beautifully and features that ’90s-pop graphic design and coloring, and all the glass allows for everyone to have a stellar view, just like the Swiss company knew way back when. We see Delicas with similar mileage often selling in the $10-$15k range at auction, and with all the recent mechanical service we think this one could be right on the money with a little negotiation. Imagine driving through the California Redwood Forest in this thing, or under a starlit sky in the desert, or even just cruising The Strip in Las Vegas. Driving a fishbowl is probably really cool.

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