Back To The 80s: Mitsubishi Space Wagon

Thu 28th Nov 2019

When we think of the classic eras of motoring we might cast our mind back to stylish cars of the 1950s, the muscle cars of the 1960s or the super cars of the 1970s. What might not spring to mind however is the motors which were produced in the 1980s - an era which certainly favoured practicality over power, style and sophistication.

But the cars of today owe much to 80s, it was a decade which brought us turbochargers, multi-valve engines and hot hatchbacks, an era of the people-carrier and the rise of the SUV. Digital displays and electronic gadgetry, were the norm as designers pushed the boundaries of of what was capable in a production vehicle.

So let's celebrate the 80s, a period of huge change across Britain as a whole, and one which had incredible landmarks in the motor industry.

Mitsubishi Space Wagon

The UK’s first multi-purpose-vehicle, the Space Wagon certainly made headlines when it arrived on British shores in 1984.

Many motoring manufacturers had attempted a vehicle which could seat more than the standard five seats, but few had actually nailed it and unless the prospect of sitting in a transit van was fulfilling the need, the true MVP simply had not arrived.

Though the Renault Espace is often credited with being the pioneer of MVP development, the Space Wagon actually pre-dated the French car by one year and its prototype was actually first sighted at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1979. There were a few sceptics when Mitsubishi unveiled what was known as the SSW concept, but the Japanese car company hardly changed anything on their original design.

Launched with two 1.8 engines, the Space Wagon, or Chariot as it was known in Japan, fulfilled the brief with two up-front, three in the middle and two in the back, which was perfect for getting the extended family around.

The Space Wagon became a favourite of private cab-hire firms across the UK, and though it was never likely to be burning rubber at the traffic lights, later versions in the mid-80s were fitted with an MR Turbo version.

The Space Wagon enjoyed a twenty year production stint, with three different generations of design, the first the most significant running from 1983 to 1991. The best possible praise for the Space Wagon came from the fact that unlike its rivals, the Ford Galaxy and even the aforementioned Espace, this actually felt like driving a car, handled and parked as well as any other MPV around.

Manufacturer: Mitsubishi Motors

Class: 5-door Station Wagon

Assembly: Okazaki, Japan

Did You Know?: Mitsubishi modified their Space Wagon in Finland, adding additional head space so that the MPV qualified as a van and was exempt from tax.