Well, here we are again with another special project. This time I went just a bit out of my element.
Basically this all started with a tent. I was online (Marketplace and Craiglist) just randomly searching for things I had no business purchasing and there it was… A brand new Smittybilt roof top tent! Still not cheap but better priced then the $1,800 retail! 2 days later it was at my shop.
Now to find a vehicle to put it on. Not even an hour of searching and I found this 1993 Mitsubishi Delica l300.
She was rough but 99% was cosmetic issues. Neglected paint, wheels were so far gone, brush guards were one step from the dumpster.
Most would walk away but she’s got good bones! The turbo diesel showed just 105,000kms (65k miles!), super low miles for these vans. Also, it was a 5 speed manual and the frame had no rust. These vans are notorious for rust issues and the only rust we had to deal with was on the brush guards. Oh, and the interior was MINT.
So, first thing to do is get the van stripped down. I am used to doing paint corrections on my tiny kei cars I normally import that take me about 2 days. This full size beast took every bit of a week to cut and buff.
My first major decision came down to the wheels. Rough was an understatement. I was looking at all sorts of options as I am a bit of a wheel snob and the thought of some rad jdm multi piece off road wheels was making me excited. The more I looked at those raggedy OEM wheels, the more they grew on me. It was like they were begging me for another chance at life. The design was sweet and as cool as jdm wheel would’ve been, OEM is cooler.
After an acid dip, sand blast, a fresh metallic silver powder coating and some brand new 31” BF Goodrich All Terrains, I felt like I made the best decision. There’s nothing like the feeling of bringing something back to life.
Now to our next biggest concern: The brush guards. These things were gnarly. Taking them off wasn’t easy as well, especially the front. The front bar was too big to sand blast so many hours were spent sanding instead. But it had to be done. Even if there wasn’t any surface rust, the dingy white wasn’t going to cut it. Strip and prep for powder.
Now that the hard stuff was done it was time to get into the fun stuff: LIFT KIT!! Since this was going to be for resale and I didn’t want to get too far off from OEM, a 2” lift was the best choice. Along with the lift we replaced the tired factory shocks with all new ProComps.
Now for the last item to be added to the van, the one thing that inspired the entire build: The Smittybilt tent. First I had to get a good foundation. Technically one set of Thule gutter mounts and crossbars could’ve supported the tent with occupants, but I ordered another set to help evenly distribute the weight on the vans gutters. Great call because when I climb in I feel very secure.
Since this van is a high roof model I had to go with the Super High Foot Thule (11”). So with the lift kit, tires and high roof rack, you are sitting about nine feet in the air! It was so tall that I had to order the extended ladder from Smittybilt.
So how do I like the final product? I LOVE IT! Just like my Honda City Turbo build, I wish I didn’t have to sell. Climbing into the tent gives you the same feeling as climbing up a treehouse as a kid.
The rest of the van came out great. The paint now has a wonderful glossy finish. The brush guards turned out amazing with that new gloss white powder coat. The modifications are tasteful and the van performs as it should and probably better.
In all actuality not too much was done to the van. Most of the work completed was just good old fashion sweat equity to bring this Delica back to her former glory. When modifying a vehicle for resale, there’s only so much I can do and expect a reasonable return. I feel that I have accomplished providing a quality vehicle with high quality modifications.
Thank you to the rest of the people that helped out with this project.
Andrew Peeler: Owner of Solar Shade in Jacksonville FL. Amazing shop that offers everything from tint, vehicle wraps, powder coating, detailing and bed liners!
Adam & Jake: Awesome employees at Solar Shade that helped me out during the project.
Tony McDaniel: Owner at Carbon Works
Lance Asper: Video Production
Chandler Wade: Photography