Sunday, February 24, 2013

Used Car Review - Mitsubishi Lancer Box Type

In this day, Myk Belmonte invites you to go back in time through a vehicle that nearly defined a decade.

1981-1988 Mitsubishi Lancer

The Philippines faced a lot during the 1980s, we had deposed a dictator and placed in what could be Asia's first female president. Songs from Tears of Fears and Duran Duran playing out from radios and teenagers enjoyed the Bagets sequels. The economy was in the limbo especially in the local automotive industry, only Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation (previously known as the Canlubang Automotive Resources) and Nissan Pilipinas stayed afloat, but the former is the most successful during that time. Delta Motors Corporation (Toyota), GM Pilipinas, and Ford (whose plant was located in Bataan) pulled out.

After the L-Type Lancer, or known as the Coca-Cola body, the Lancer EX (this is the original one) was introduced in 1979 in Japan. In year 1980, a 1.8L turbocharged engine known as the 1800GSR and GT Turbo was made available. This Lancer made an appearance at the 1000 Lakes Rally which utilizes a 2.0 engine with turbo that has 125hp. Worldwide production ended in 1987 to make way for the Lancer "Singkit" or "Pusa".

If there is one automotive icon during the 1980s, this is it. It was the only choice apart from an owner type jeep when the Toyota Corolla, and the Ford Laser were discontinued. Enough of words, this generation was available from 1981-1988 and also listed at the top by Top Gear Philippines in their 100 Sexiest Cars List. If you had the money back then, you can buy the SL, GSR, and GT trims. With the latter being available in both 1.6 and 1.8 engines.

Value and Costs
Previously, a brand new unit would cost you between P30,000-P60,000 in 1980s money. However, owners made profit especially that resales prices doubled or tripled when they sold it later on. That's Marcos and Cory era; today, February 25, 2013, you can see Lancer Box Types sold in online classified sites flirting between P30,000-P100,000 depending on the vehicle condition. You'll see units varying from the battered to the almost pristine.

Maintaining one is affordable due to the simplicity of the mechanical parts, which means there is no ECU to fuss about when the car gets flooded. However, you must have patience especially on parts hunting, they may be available or they may not be. Just be wary of rust (rustproofing is not common back then) and overheating problems which can spoil the ownership experience.

Exterior and Interior
Why is this vehicle called the Lancer Box Type? Simple, it has a box shape. Timeless and classic it is, you can't help but stare at it all day. There is not much to say about it since it is darn sexy.

Don't expect any fancy or high tech styling motif inside. It may be old school but it is purposeful especially that it is solid. Air-conditioning system and a car stereo head unit are optional when brand new, but if the unit you are seeking has one then rejoice. If yours does not have, then its time to put your bargaining skills to your favorite car shops in Banawe or Evangelista.

Three engine options are available for the Box Type, which is an advantage for consumers back then. Fitting most SL models is the 4G33 1,439cc that has 70hp and 111Nm. Next to be described is the 4G32 1,597cc which has 98hp that is common among GSR Lancers. Both can be placed in the GSR and GT is the 4G62 1,795cc engine. All of the three engines have rocket-like acceleration that can outperform modern vehicles that are mid-size in shape, thanks to the much simpler mechanical parts and the rear wheel drive layout. Some owners reported that they can reach 150kph in stock form.

Driving Impressions
Being behind the wheel of this baby is one pleasurable experience. Handling may not elicit a word to describe on but the rear wheel drive layout is an added bonus for being stable at higher speeds. And one added bonus is that, if you know how to traverse floods, is you can drive this one without damaging the vehicle. Definitely the 80s drivers had fun behind the wheel.

Do you want this car because you have the passion to restore and own one and also to say, sentimental value, then the Lancer Box Type is for you. But if you seek a cheaper car that is affordable to maintain and at the same time costs less, I suggest to skip this car on your list and go for 90s era vehicles such as the B13 Sentra or the Corolla XL. Once you're bitten by the restoration bug, you'll never stop. Have fun and be patient!

The Good:
  • Gas friendly, despite being an old model
  • Light and fast
  • This can survive floods
The Bad:
  • Don't expect airbags or ABS brakes
  • Aircon is not Antarctica cold
  • Restoring one takes time
The Pick: Any variant will do, just make sure it is well maintained

Engines: 1,439cc 4G33, 1,597cc 4G32, and 1,795cc 4G62 I4 gasoline
Power: 70hp (1.4), 98hp (1.6), No data available for 1.8
Torque: 111Nm (1.4), No data available for 1.6 and 1.8
Fuel Consumption: 8-11km/L (city), 10-13km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies with the vehicle condition)
Transmission: 4-speed manual, 3-speed automatic
Suspension: No data available

Price (New): P30,000-P60,000 (prices during the 1980s)
Price (Now): P30,000-P100,000 (depending on vehicle condition)
Rivals: Toyota Corolla Box Type, Nissan Sentra, Nissan Stanza, Ford Laser
On Sale: 1981-1988



  1. Im Planning to restore my Box type while learning to do so do yo u know where is can buy cheap parts?i love this car and you can't question

    1. Good afternoon! You may want to buy parts by asking first enthusiast forums and browsing the stores in Banawe. Hope it helps.

  2. will a 114 knots rim fit in a 1987 boxtype? need to be sure first before buying...please help...thanks!

  3. Mahirap ba talaga pyesa nito balak ko kc bumili for alternate car pang coding.

  4. mga bro ano po bang rim size ang bagay dito wag lang 13^ thanks

  5. I can actually go up to19km/liter with my box type. Of course without a/c and on highways with speeds around 60kph sa flat and 40kph sa uphills. There is actually a trick with the carburetor and the way you tickle the gas pedal. 4g33 yung makina nito.

  6. Ultimate oldschool for me, mirror like finish, if painting is done right, i mean damn right.