It could be said that some cars define a decade. While it's difficult to pinpoint one specific 'car of the decade', it's safe to say that the car of the 1980's, at least for us, is the Mitsubishi Lancer Box-type. This year is a milestone for the iconic car, as it celebrates its 40th birthday in 2019.
The year is 1979, and Mitsubishi rolled out the second generation Lancer in Japan. It was distinctly different from the first-generation model with its, well, boxy styling. It may not seem like it but it was pretty revolutionary at the time. For starters, it had plastic bumpers and an aerodynamic design at the time. It was considerably bigger than the older model, too.
Of course, we didn't get the Box-type immediately because in 1979, Mitsubishi was still selling the 'Bar-type' model that year. We'd have to wait a little bit longer to get our hands on the next-gen Lancer. Little did anyone know just how big of an impact this humble sedan from Mitsubishi would make in the rapidly changing and turbulent 80's.
It's been over 30 years since the last box-type rolled off the dealerships, but it still has a strong following in the country. From the 1.4 SL, to the sporting 1.6 GT, right up to the hot 2.0 EX Turbo (for those lucky enough to import them), there was a Lancer for everyone. Your parents likely had one and, if they didn't, you probably had a relative who did.
What perhaps cemented the Lancer box-type's legacy in the Philippines is the fact that it never went away. Toyota's Delta Motors closed its doors, and Ford left the country. It left the car with little to no opposition, so if you wanted to buy a brand new car in the 80's, you pretty much defaulted to the box-type.
A limited selection of cars sounds like a downer, and it was. But fortunately, the Lancer box-type was actually a good car, as explained by our Inside Man. It got the basics right – smooth absorbent simple suspension, spacious, a clean dashboard, easy maintenance and easy to build.
Perhaps more importantly, it somewhat evolved into a symbol of resiliency. The Lancer box-type stuck with us through thick and thin while doing battle with external forces like foreign exchange crises and political upheavals in government. By the looks of it, no other car, before or since, has done that. Because of that, its iconic status has been well deserved, even after decades have gone by.
Happy 40th birthday Lancer box-type. May you keep on rolling.