This summer, I’m going to help put the hybrid powertrain from a hybrid Mitsubishi Outlander into an ancient 1917 Mitsubishi Model A. And by “help,” I mean stand in a corner and try not to hurt myself while the craftsmen at West Coast Customs cut and weld and create, and Mitsubishi writes checks to make it all happen.
In reality, the project is not so much “an Outlander engine going into a Model A” as it is “a Ford Model T being modded to look like a Model A and then grafted onto the chassis of an Outlander.” The electrified Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-In Hybrid, no less.
Yeah, it didn’t make total sense to me at first, either.
But the 1917 Mitsubishi Model A was the first car to wear the three-diamond badge, and technically the company’s first “production car,” if you count 22 examples as a production run. With such a small batch to ever exist in the first place, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that none of the original Mitsubishi Model As are still known to exist.
Those 22 cars, which look a lot like Ford’s Model T insomuch as most cars made in the early-1900s cars look very similar, were built by hand by Mitsubishi while it was still primarily a shipbuilding company an entire century ago.
Mitsubishi’s 100-year anniversary is what inspired the company to fund this unique build, and West Coast Customs had the vision to mate the old car body with a new car powertrain.
I went to see the West Coast Customs shop in Burbank, where Will.I.Am’s wacky DeLorean, a Range Rover body made to fit a golf cart, and various other odd automotive treasures were parked. In this eclectic garage, the sacrificial Model T and hacked-up Outlander were in the early stages of being prepped to bond together.
“So are where are we going to do the fish tank? Or what about a bowling ball washer,” I asked West Coast Customs chief Ryan Friedlinghaus, who…