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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Pimp My 1917 Mitsubishi Model A

I’m not an automobile expert by any stretch of the imagination. Although I am a pretty good driver, when it comes to how a car works, I know where the gas and windshield wiper fluid go, and let my trusted mechanic take care of the rest.

Again, while not an expert, I do know a fair bit about car histories—more than most, not as much as some.

I know that I adore the 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air’s station wagon known as the Nomad… a 283HP V8 283 cubic-inch engine… and would prefer it in Inca Silver, if anyone wants to buy one and gift it to me. I like my GTO’s, a certain mid-60s Thunderbird, a 1970 Cougar (in metallic purple), etc. I could also stand a 1919 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost or even a 1958 Ford Edsel in yellow, because if that grill is going to look like a puckered mouth after eating a lemon, it should look like a lemon. 

Unfortunately, not having the brains to actually save money to buy a dream car, I’ve settled for more practical vehicles.

I have owned a plethora of Japanese cars: Mazda, Toyota and Nissan being the three companies I have purchased from, but have never owned a Mitsubishi before. (I have nothing against Honda, by the way, or Suzuki).

But, if those lottery balls drop the way I expect them to drop, I just may have my first Mitsubishi.

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of its first automobile, Mitsubishi is producing a modern-day Model A powered with the looks of the 1917 car, but the technological advancements of a 2017 vehicle.

Known as Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co., Ltd., it opened its doors in 1870 as the name suggests as a shipbuilding enterprise.

In 1917—47 years after it began—Mitsubishi developed the Model A, its first car, built at the request of the Japanese Army.

The Model A was a seven-seat, four-door vehicle relied on a cast iron inline four motor pushing out a scant 35 horsepower.

Built with a sheet metal chassis consisting of a body made of lacquered steel attached to a wooden frame, it used gas headlamps.

The interior of the car was pure luxury, made of white cypress wood and English worsted fabric.

It wasn’t a huge seller, as Mitsubishi was first and foremost a shipbuilding concern, and the Model A was built to order by the Japanese military.

As such, only 22 Model A’s had been built at the Kobe shipyards by 1921… and all bore the Mitsubishi three-diamond badge that still adorns its cars today. 

Apparently 22 vehicles is considered enough to make the Model A Japan's first mass-produced passenger car, and in this case I leave the semantics up to the individual reader.  

Perhaps we can just call it Mitsubishi’s first passenger vehicle.

"We're proud to be a 100-year-old brand with a rich heritage in the automotive landscape. The Mitsubishi Model A is the vehicle that paved the way for many other unique and exciting models over the years and we're excited to re-design it with West Coast Customs," says Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc. (MMNA) senior director of marketing Francine Harsini. "The Mitsubishi Model A will feature all the distinctive aspects of the 1917 vehicle, but will be built on the PHEV platform and offer the latest in automotive technology."

West Coast Customs will build a 2017 version of the Mitsubishi Model A in Burbank, California, with the looks of the original 1917 vehicle on the platform of the brand's most technologically-advanced vehicle, the Outlander Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV).

The Outlander PHEV has electromobility, four-wheel drive technology and features a high-efficiency 2.0-liter gas engine, two high-performance electric motors, and Mitsubishi's superior Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) system—providing the driver with SUV capabilities with  the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV delivers SUV capabilities and EV (electric vehicle) fuel economy.

West Coast Customs chief executive officer and founder Ryan Friedlinghaus says: "We are incredibly honored to have been chosen to take on this iconic build for Mitsubishi that celebrates the centennial anniversary of the company's first mass produced vehicle. It is an incredibly exciting opportunity to be able to integrate the history of the original Mitsubishi Model A with the technology of current-day Mitsubishi vehicles to recreate the Mitsubishi Model A. Team members in every department of West Coast Customs are super excited to be involved with this build—truly a piece of automotive history."

The vehicle will be completed this summer. The build will be featured on an episode of Inside West Coast Customs, which airs on the Velocity network, Tuesdays, 9 PM PDT/EDT.

About West Coast Customs

Founded in 1993 by Ryan Friedlinghaus, West Coast Customs is the premiere vehicle modification shop, internationally recognized for its original designs, beyond your imagination concepts, impeccable quality, cutting-edge technology and unparalleled craftsmanship. Recognized as the game-changing car customization phenomenon that was MTV's Pimp My Ride (loved that show!!!), West Coast Customs' pop culture status and appeal has catapulted worldwide with state-of-the-art West Coast Customs facilities now open in Dubai, Mexico, Germany, Malaysia, Russia, China and Japan. The West Coast Customs flagship 60,000 square foot facility, is headquartered in Burbank, CA with 12 leading-edge departments offering a range of extraordinary custom services for projects of any size, scope or budget. Check out their work over at

Andrew Joseph

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