So my buddy Tim got a Mitsubishi Delica 4×4 Diesel Van! I had no idea this was a thing. All in all the van is a rad little vehicle. I’ve always thought the cab-forward vehicle design like this is FAR superior to an SUF design like the 4Runner for accomplishing a lot in a small space.


The Delica has more driver and passenger room than most vehicles, and the second row has a ton of room as well. There is a third row as well that holds another 3 passengers, though we didn’t fold that up for the walk-around.

But with just the 5 passenger seats  it has WAY more cargo space than most vehicles that are 4 feet longer. This is mostly because the engine is under the front seats. You pop the passenger seat, which is on the left side in a right-drive Delica and there’s the little in-line 4 cylinder 2.5 liter diesel. When it’s closed you really can’t tell that an internal combustion engine is right off your butt cheek.


On the outside the Delica is very compact, narrow and short with a very short wheelbase. The wheels and tires are small, as you’d expect on the chassis of what would otherwise be a compact car. This one had running boards and bar bumpers front and rear with auxiliary lighting on the front bull bar.

Under the front is an engine guard with an air scoop that channels air up to the radiator. Behind that is a transmission, transfer case and gas tank than all hand down way below the body panels. While it does have true 4 wheel drive, and short wheel base, which is otherwise a good recipe for an off-roader, the sensitive bits on the Delica are hangin out there in the rock danger zone waiting to be destroyed.

Is the Delica an Overlanding Rig?

Mitsubishi Delica 4x4 Van

Well, yes and no. I looked on the Delica USA website and they have one that’s pretty kitted out with guards, a lift kit and a winch and that one could probably handle some serious terrain. On the whole however, the Delica is probably a decent dirt road adventure van that can handle getting to 80% of all the places overlanders go, and I wouldn’t hesitate to take it on an adventure. It certainly is not a 4 wheeler and if you tried to get serious with it in the rocks you’d find yourself walking home.

Forward Control / Cab Over Engine Design

Jeep FC 150 Forward Control vehicle
Jeep FC 150 Forward Control vehicle

I’ve said for years that there should be more COE options for 4 wheel drive vehicles. Jeep made a FC vehicle build on the CJ chassis in the 1950’s. I’d love to have a van design like this on a Subaru Forester platform. That would be really functional and super capable. I’m guessing though that the having the passengers so close to the front end of the vehicle is a significant safety problem with so little area to absorb impacts.

Delica’s In Action

Here’s a YouTube Playlist of some cool Delica off road Action.

Mitsubishi Delica Links

Gone Zero

So Tim is in a band called Gone Zero, he uses this Delica van to haul gear for their gigs and their song AA is featured in the video. Check out Gone Zero if you’re in San Francisco if you dig this kind of music.

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