The Mitsubishi company was founded in Japan in 1870 by Yataro Iwasaki. The company was focussed on the growth industry of the day: steamships. The name “Mitsubishi” means “Three Diamonds”, and as this steamship company eventually split into three entities: a bank, a general trading company and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries itself is split into three parts, being a nuclear power company, a manufacturer of chemicals, and the automotive manufacturer we all know so well.
Unlike many manufacturers who have been around for a lengthy period, Mitsubishi suffered no setbacks during World War 2, as it produced its ships for the Japanese Army. One battleship in particular, the Zero, was greatly envied by the Allied forces for its ease of handling.
The automotive face of the multifaceted Mitsubishi diamonds, Mitsubishi Motors, was founded in 1970, although cars made by Mitsubishi were around before that, doing quite successfully in the Asian motor racing world. From its beginnings, Mitsubishi has looked for significant working partnerships with other companies. Currently, Mitsubishi has alliances with DaimlerChrylser, Hyundai, Volvo and, of course Colt, which has now lent its name to the hot little Mitsubishi Colt.
Mitsubishi has been quite a performer in the motor racing world, especially in rallying and extreme off-road racing. The Lancer Evo (in various incarnations) has won 34 WRC events and has dominated the FIA championship for cars ready for the dealers. The Mitsubishi Lancer Evo had a seven-year Group N winning streak, being knocked off its perch in 2002 by a Proton – which was based on the Lancer Evo.
But the Dakar is the race that Mitsubishi can claim to be its own. No other marque has taken out as many titles in this gruelling race across the northwestern Sahara, ever since Mitsubishi debuted in 1983 with the Pajero. One wonders how it would perform if a Down Under equivalent to the Dakar (say, Brisbane to Perth), was ever started up – probably very well, given its phenomenal record in the Dakar.
Mitsubishis have also made their appearances on the silver screen. Comedy/action actor Jackie Chan uses Mitsubishis exclusively in his films. Jackie Chan has a motor race for Asian celebrities held annually – in Mitsubishis, of course – and Ralliart, Mitsubishi’s motor racing arm, came out with the Jackie Chan Special Edition of the Evo 9 in 2005.
The first Mitsubishi to be produced in Australia was the Mitsubishi Galant, which was originally badged as the Chrysler Valiant and the Chrysler Sigma, as the Adelaide-based plant was owned by Chrysler until the early 1980s. Since then, MMAL (Mitsubishi Motors Australia Limited) has concentrated mainly on the Mitsubishi Magna and, recently, the Mitsubishi 380. However, imported Mitsubishi vehicles are popular and easy to source at dealers throughout Australia. One more thing about Mitsubishi cars… You may have heard that the name “Pajero” is an obscene word in Spanish. As Pajeros are commonly seen in the streets of at least one South American capital city, this may not be true. Either that or Mitsubishi Pajeros are so good that Spanish speaking owners don’t mind having to tell their friends that their car is a @#$#@.
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