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1978 Mitsubishi L200/Forte 1st Generation Restoration

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  • 1978 Mitsubishi L200/Forte 1st Generation Restoration

    Hello everyone of JNC!

    This is my first generation 1978 Mitsubishi L200/Forte which I scooped up recently over here in the U.K.

    After missing a previous opportunity of getting hold of this, I have always kicked myself for letting it slip away, so I tried to make sure that it didnít happen againÖ and I have now landed myself with some rare 70ís J-tin goodness!

    From my knowledge, they are pretty much extinct in this part of the world and I am very surprised it has managed to survive at all due to the climate we have.

    Hope you guys enjoy the thread and the journey I have planned for this diamond!

    Last edited by Phil; 07-19-2017, 12:42 PM.

  • #2
    Where can I get that sticker?


    • #3
      hogger453 I believe someone has made reproductions over on the starquestclub page:

      This is the original that came with the truck, still looks new. Let me know how you get on, I could always try and make reproductions.


      • #4
        I have been trying hard to get parts of the trucks history together and I’m still in the process of finding information out about it. I received it with not much history or proof of previous owners, so I'd like to try and dig to some extent.

        On the upside, I do have the original owners handbook with the purchase receipt and the production card from when it was built in Japan before export. Made in '78, registered in '79. From my understanding it is the base model option with a bench seat and it’s original colour being orange… looks more of a tomato colour now. The pick-up has the 4G32 engine, with a manual 4-speed gearbox and a column shifter.

        Jumping back years ago, the pickup was initially found parked up in a field where it was presumably stood for 15+ years and then later stored once it had been found by a previous owner. How it has survived the UK weather is beyond me and it has definitely seen some use. The cabin still smells like a field, put it that way.

        Fast forwarding a bit from when it was put into storage, the previous owner decided to put a LDV twin rear axle on it and did some welding on the rear of the cabin:

        The truck came out of storage and went up for sale, which was the first time I’d ever seen one - it was perfection. My uncle actually owns a '78 Mitsubishi Sigma GE so I was familiar with that gorgeous front end. I lost out on the chance of buying it in 2016 as I wasn't in a position to do so. I ended up following where it went and made sure to watch what happened to it. This is how it ended up:

        The truck sat for a year and the owner before me managed to collect some door skins and a potential donor tub. It was recently when he decided to let it go, so I did my best to try and save it this time around.

        And here's how she is in my hands:

        Last edited by Phil; 07-19-2017, 02:48 PM.


        • #5
          Carrying on from it's arrival, the first thing I ended up doing was assessing what I was up against. The tub seemed to be the worst part, but what do you expect from a nearly 40 year old truck. She seemed a bit scabby here and there, but overall will definitely be saveable!

          I hope to try and save the 4G32 engine, but can already tell that it is probably going to be the hardest task as I can imagine parts are obsolete. The engine bay is relatively clean from any major rust, which was a bonus.

          The master cylinder could do with a freshen up.

          Window trims will need sorting, hopefully I can find some replacements or improvise.

          Inside the cab seemed pretty well, no rust on the floors and an unmolested dash with the original Mitsubishi radio, it was a score in itself! The roof lining is still perfectly in tact, I just need to sort the trim out on the seat as it has ripped here and there. Definitely loving the column shifter.

          A new chrome front bumper will definitely be needed.

          Then finally, the rear tub or should I say sieve for the time being...

          My next step was swapping out the twin LDV axle and replacing it with the original. It was an interesting journey to say the least.



          • #6
            Axle time!

            A massive thanks to my good friend Matt on helping me throughout the day, moving the rear tub and getting rid of that twin axle, it was definitely a two man job. Things became tricker when moving onto seized bolts…

            I started by removing the tub front quarters as they had completely warped and rusted. The first bolt I tried to undo managed to snap straight away, I hoped this wasn’'t a taster for what was to come.

            On the inside of the tub you could see where the connection points for the bolts had completely rusted away, so I ended up having to cut out the rust just to release the quarters.

            Leaving the tub looking like this.

            Next step was removing the tub and revealing the chassis, which to my surprise was pretty solid and had no major rust or corrosion spots.

            The magic log was definitely the best find, shame I couldn’t see any part numbers on it.

            After overcoming obstacles of seized bolts, re-kindling my relationship with WD-40 and other problems, the axle was finally free. It was a lot harder than it seemed and I can't describe how much of a battle it was...

            Lining up the original axle, I felt it was already a massive improvement over the twinned one! The pickup started to look like her old self again, so it was smiles all round and a good end to the day.

            Much better...

            The next task will be either sanding down the chassis or measuring up some options for the rear tub. I should have a donor tub arriving in the next week or so, along with some Mitsubishi Forte brochures I managed to score on the Yahoo Japan auctions, so I will have to post them up.

            Last edited by Phil; 07-19-2017, 10:14 PM.


            • #7
              That looks like a tremendous amount of work but it will great to restore basically something you just don't see on the road anymore. Love it.


              • #8
                Oh, that OK Mitsubishi sticker. If you have a spare would love to have one.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Phil View Post
                  hogger453 I believe someone has made reproductions over on the starquestclub page:

                  This is the original that came with the truck, still looks new. Let me know how you get on, I could always try and make reproductions.

                  Thanks. I'll let you know.


                  • #10
                    Are you going back to all original restauration? Which route have you planned? I'd allways wanted some cool and rare pickup. this one is definitely a score. Really interresting how it survived all the bad weather. Mitsubishi must have done a great paintjob back then, compared to all the (including mine) Datsuns that rust even when stored in a garage
           - My real JDM RHD EK9 & S30Z Project build Blog


                    • #11
                      What an interesting car, never seen one before. Where in the UK are you?
                      P510 Bluebird SSS Coupe



                      • #12
                        Hi guys. I'm new at the forum. Im from Argentina and i've recently acquired one yellow 1981 mitsubishi L200. I'm going to create a new post to present it (and myself properly) but i wanted to leave a comment here first, to congratulate you for your project. As i'm starting a very similar one i really hope to keep in touch to change ideas and to have a little more information about this unique ride. Sadly here in my country there's no parts whatsoever so i guess i'll have to import all the missing pieces.
                        Best of lucks with your restoration!


                        • #13
                          Hi there. Been a while since your last post. How's this build progressing? Any updates?