We've seen some crazy automaker centennial celebration cars in recent years, including the Vision Next 100 BMW, Mini and Rolls Royce and the Aston Martin CC100 Speedster. Instead of going totally wild or futuristic, Mitsubishi is bridging the past with the present for its own celebration, preparing a modern-day Model A powered by the plug-in hybrid electric drive from the Outlander PHEV. Early 20th century looks and plug-in technology are sure to make an intriguing mix.
Much more than just an automaker, Mitsubishi is a huge group of more than 600 independent companies operating in many industries, united under one corporate philosophy. It got its start as a shipping operation in 1870, nearly 50 years before concerning itself with automobiles.
In 1917, Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co., Ltd. developed its very first car at the request of the Japanese army. Called the Model A, the seven-seat, four-door vehicle relied on a cast iron inline four worth 35 hp. It had a sheet metal chassis, a body of lacquered steel affixed to a wooden frame, and gas headlamps. Horse coach builders prepared a luxurious interior of white cypress wood and English worsted fabric.
By 1921, Mitsubishi had built a total of 22 cars, including prototypes, at its Kobe shipyard, making the Model A Japan's first mass-produced passenger car.
Mitsubishi has certainly come a long way since those early days, and it will highlight just how far with the 100th anniversary car it's selected West Coast Customs to build. The celebratory car will feature aspects of the original Model A but will incorporate the Outlander PHEV's plug-in hybrid platform. That means a 2.0-liter gas engine, two electric motors and the Super All-Wheel Control system. The idea is to blend Mitsubishi's first car ever with its most technologically advanced vehicle ever.
West Coast will build the car at its Burbank, California facility with the goal of completing it this (northern) summer. The build will appear on an episode of Inside West Coast Customs on the Velocity network, and it feels like the type of project that could make a public appearance at one of the big, open-air car events.