One More from Tokyo: 1917 Mitsubishi Model A

1917 mitsubishi type a
There was one last old school car from the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show and we’re talking old old school. The triple diamond mafia calls the 1917 Mitsubishi Model A the first production car built in Japan — if by production you mean 22 units, including pre-production ones, screwed together by workers in the company’s shipyards.

mitsubishi_model_a_01
None of the original 22 are known to have survived. However, in 1972 things were going well for Mitsubishi. They had just struck up a deal with Chrysler to enter the North American market!

So the higher ups commissioned a “replica” of the Model A to be rebuilt using then-modern technology, which had come a long way. Whereas the original horseless carriage managed only 35ps despite a 2.8-liter four-cylinder, the replica breezed out 55ps from just one liter. Nowadays, the Mitsubishi i can push 64ps out of a 660cc kei car motor.

Like the 1925 Otomo, it couldn’t compete with cheaper imports from Ford and Chevy, and production was halted in 1921.

[Images: Autoblog, Mitsubishi Motors]

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7 Responses to One More from Tokyo: 1917 Mitsubishi Model A

  1. bert said:

    Only 55ps! If I was making a replica like that, I would have dropped a GTO motor in it, and roasted those little skinny stick wheels to the hubs!

  2. Hmm… sort of the reverse these days with the imports. It all comes full circle.

  3. Ben said:

    I’ve always wanted to build a hot rod replica out of the Otomo, but a ’17 Mitsu with a 4G54 would be equally bad ass!

  4. vballin said:

    why so limited? was there just not enough of a market back then?

    • Ben said:

      vballin – not enough for the price. These were hand built while the Fords and Chevys were mass produced, so there was quite a price difference!

      Lincoln Stax – I agree, whey build a replica if it’s not 100% faithful? The wheelbase is off by a couple cm too.

  5. Lincoln Stax said:

    It’s a shame that none of the originals survived. But if I had been in charge of recreating Mitsu’s Model A, it would have been a complete recreation, including engine.

  6. bert said:

    Ben the Fords and Chevys were hand built too! There were just a lot more people to build them!

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