It was in 1962 when the long and successful history of the Mitsubishi Motors. However, the trend of producing mini cars began to boost in mid 1950s in Europe and eventually caught hold of the Japanese market as well. During that time, a good number of mini cars were produced in the Japanese domestic market and following the rising trend in automotive industry, Shin Mitsubishi Heavy-Industries started producing its own passenger vehicles in 1957.
After the World War II, the first passenger car produced was Mitsubishi 500. It was designed and developed by Shin Mitsubishi Heavy-Industries, one of the three regional companies of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and later these companies merge into a Mitsubishi Motors. The company revealed the 500 for the first time at Tokyo Motor Show in 1959 and it went on sale in 1960 with a price tag of ¥390,000. The Mitsubishi 500 came with rear-mounted, air-cooled 493cc 2-cylinder engine featuring a single downdraught carburetor capable of producing 21 metric hp (15 kW) at 5000 rpm and mated to a 3-speed manual transmission. To keep the vehicle lightweight, yet strong, the body was built on a monococque structure. The car was launched with a chassis code of A10 which was renamed as A11 later.
500 Super DeLuxe
Seeing the success and popularity of the vehicle, the company added a new enlarged 25 metric hp (18 kW) 594cc engine (NE35A) in the lineup to achieve enhanced acceleration and durability in August 1961. The model with this new engine variant was called the Mitsubishi 500 Super DeLuxe. Depending on the Japanese regulations for the Kei car, the Mitsubishi 500 failed to fulfill the regulations for having an engine larger than 360 cc. To qualify as a Kei car, it had the engine less than 360 cc. The amendments had been made in the Kei regulations on January 1, 1976, when the engine limits was raised to 550 cc.
Mitsubishi has developed a good amount of reputation regarding their current achievements in off-road racing with the Pajero-based Rally Raid vehicle and Lancer Evo-based WRC car. However, the first “homologation special” of Mitsubishi was their 1961 Super DeLuxe-based touring car produced particularly for the 1962 Macau Grand Prix. In a promising debut, the little, rear-engined sedan swept the top four places in the “Under 750 cc” category, with Kazuo Togawa taking class honors.