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Japan Japan (1917 - present)
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A number of subcompanies were created so as to differentiate the numerous types of business Mitsubishi was in. The Mitsubishi Group – conglomerate of independent businesses and companies bearing the Mitsubishi trademark – was one of the most important enterprises for Japan’s industry, leading its path into great modernization.

Mitsubishi Minica, 1962

Mitsubishi Minica, 1962

Mitsubishi can be translated to “three diamonds”: the word ‘mitsubishi’ is the sum of the words ‘mitsu’ (“three”) and ‘hishi’ (used by the Japanese to refer to a rhombus or a diamond).

After several decades of automobile production mixed with other unrelated industries, Mitsubishi decided that it was about time that a separate division focused on car industry would be created. Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) was formed in April 1970 within the parent company Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), with aircraft division engineer Tomio Kubo leading the business.

Today, Mitsubishi Motors is the sixth largest car producer in Japan and the seventh best selling one in the world.

Mitsubishi has promoted its own worldwide expansion by establishing very important deals with other countries’ car manufacturers and dealers. The Japanese automaker has signed long-term technology and production licensing agreements with South Korean carmaker HyundaiHyundaiHyundaiRepublic of Korea, 1967 > present79 models
1921 photos
3 videos
and Malaysian carmaker ProtonProtonProtonMalaysia, 1983 > present9 models
41 photos

In 1971, the American automotive group ChryslerChryslerChryslerUnited States of America, 1925 > present70 models
873 photos
1 video
bought a 15% stake out of Mitsubishi’s shares, holding it for 22 years. In the 1990’s, Mitsubishi co-owned the biggest car production facility in the Netherlands for ten years, together with Swedish carmaker VolvoVolvoVolvoSweden, 1927 > present49 models
4535 photos
6 videos
– in 2001, the Japanese company became the sole owner. The Daimler-Chrysler company has also owned a controlling share of Mitsubishi from 2000 to 2005.

Mitsubishi endured the severe East Asian financial crisis of 1997 and was left with great financial damages. The company has been struggling to keep on being lucrative ever since.

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The founder of the old, original Mitsubishi company, Yataro Iwasaki, chose the symbol of three diamonds that is still recognized today as the Japanese brand’s graphic identity. Also, ‘mitsubishi’ can be properly translated to English as “three diamonds”.

In a first instance, this draft suggests the emblem of the Tosa Clan, who had first employed Iwasaki. In addition, Yataro’s own family crest consisted on three rhombuses placed on top of each other.

In another sense, this logo also reminds us of a ship’s propeller and the very earliest Mitsubishi company was a shipping firm.

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Mitsubishi has debuted into the international motorsport scene nearly half a century ago, starting with street racing and off-road races in the early 1960’s.

Lancer Evo VII WRC2

Lancer Evo VII WRC2

© photo courtesy of: Mitsubishi

The brand’s official introduction into racing was in 1962 in a touring car competition, the Macau Grand Prix, where a rear-engined Mitsubishi 500500Mitsubishi 500Japan, 1957 > present1 photo
Super DeLuxe ran to victory, as well as to the following three positions (1–2–3–4 victory), in the ‘Under 750 cc’ class.

A new Mitsubishi Colt 600ColtMitsubishi ColtJapan, 1962 > 20027 series
89 versions
114 photos
4 videos
entered the Macau Grand Prix again in 1963 and won first, second and third places in the ‘Under 600 cc’ class.

In 1964, the Mitsubishi Colt 1000 scored the top three positions in the ‘750–1000 cc’ class of the Japanese Grand Prix.

The automaker began competing in the open-wheel ‘formula car’ class of the Japanese GP in 1966, when the Mitsubishi Colt Formula 3A won the Japan Grand Prix. Mitsubishi also won the class’ first and second places in 1967 and 1968.

At the wheels of a Mitsubishi Colt F2000, driver Kuniomi Nagamatsu wins the Japan Grand Prix in 1971, while another Colt F2000 finished in second place.

The 1970’s were Mitsubishi’s dominant years in endurance rallying, while in the 1980’s the brand’s rally team became the most successful in the history of the Dakar Rally, which it is still today. Mitsubishi entered the Dakar for the first time in 1983 with a PajeroPajeroMitsubishi PajeroJapan, 1982 > present4 series
70 versions
67 photos

Throughout the 1990’s, Mitsubishi was mostly dominant in the World Rally Championship’s Group A and Group N categories.

Since 1973, Mitsubishi has won 34 WRC competitions with cars like the Lancers 1600 GSRMitsubishi Lancer 1600 GSRJapan, 1979 > present and EX2000 Turbo, the StarionWartburgBMW WartburgGermany, 1930 > 19301 serie
1 Version
2 photos
and the GalantDB6 Gen.1Aston Martin DB6 Gen.1United Kingdom, 1965 > 19716 versions
75 photos
VR-4. Since 1984, Mitsubishi has had a Motorsport division, the well-known Ralliart.

Mitsubishi kept on winning the Dakar Rally during the 1990’s, with victories in 1992, 1993, 1997 and 1998. However, the Japanese carmaker has been even more successful on the current decade, winning the Dakar for 8 consecutive years – from 2001 to 2007.

Mitsubishi’s extremely popular Lancer EvolutionLancer EvolutionMitsubishi Lancer EvolutionJapan, 1992 > present10 series
50 versions
84 photos
– most commonly known as Evo – has been very successful in the FIA’s showroom-ready cars championship, holding the Group N class’ champion title for seven years in a row – from 1995 to 2001.

In 2007, Mitsubishi’s motorsport subsidiary in the United Kingdom – Mitsubishi Motors UK – notched up the drivers’ and teams’ titles of the British Rally Championship with the Group N Lancer Evolution IX.

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