You’ve by no means heard of the Mitsubishi Bravo earlier than and we don’t blame you. Half of our employees hasn’t both, however at the very least we all know a factor or two about Kei automotive (pronounced “kay”). Kei cars are the smallest and most affordable street legal vehicles sold in Japan. They’re regulated by measurement, displacement and energy, have been round since World Struggle II, and nonetheless stay standard right this moment.
Nonetheless, as you might need guessed, they by no means made it to U.S. shores. Fairly frankly, they’re too tiny for almost all of Individuals that dwell by the previous saying, “larger is healthier”. That doesn’t imply a few of us don’t respect a superb Kei automotive, truck or van once we see one, which is why we expect you’ll be fairly stoked to satisfy Los Angeles native, Joe Dashtoyan and his 1994 Mitsubishi Bravo Tremendous Exceed.
Most individuals that drop some huge cash on a right-hand-drive JDM import would make investments into one thing like a Skyline or Silvia. The very last thing on their minds can be a Kei automotive or microvan, proper? Joe’s been round Japanese automobiles all of his life however the second he laid eyes on this explicit Bravo earlier this yr, his thoughts was set.
The mini Mitsubishi weighs only a hair greater than a Sensible automotive, however comes filled with extra performance and taste. Surprisingly, there’s ample room whether or not sitting within the entrance or rear, which Joe can attest to as he’s not a petite man. There’s additionally loads of area within the trunk, making it a greater than succesful automobile for a weekend highway journey or serving as a elements runner.
Joe was fortunate sufficient to select up the AWD Bravo stateside, so he didn’t need to undergo the importing course of, though he did have his fair proportion of labor lower out for him when it got here to changing OEM elements and restoring it to “as-new” situation. For that, he spent months on the web and coughed up large bucks for parts that needed to be shipped over from throughout the Pacific.
Aftermarket modifications stay minimal exterior of a set of Enkei wheels, two-tone vinyl wrap job, steering wheel and upgraded sound system, however that’s all of the Kei challenge actually warranted. Joe explains that he enjoys the Bravo together with his spouse and younger daughter, who’ll probably inherit the microvan as soon as she’s sufficiently old to drive years from now.
Earlier than our photoshoot was performed, Joe threw me the keys to take it for a spin round downtown L.A. and let me inform you, this factor is depraved enjoyable to drive! Maybe the slowest factor I’ve ever acquired behind the wheel of, however I’ve by no means been waved at or given a thumbs up in so many situations inside a 10-minute window. From of us simply admiring its cute stature, noticing the right-hand-drive, or guffawing on the computerized Japanese voice after I’m in reverse (you’ll have to look at the video to know what I’m speaking about). Sure, this Kei van is without doubt one of the coolest JDM issues I’ve seen all yr, or possibly I’m simply having main withdrawals from not visiting Japan in 2020…
Interview With Proprietor Joe Dashtoyan
Inform us slightly bit about your self, Joe.
13 years in the past I used to be a graphic designer by nature, however my ardour had at all times been round automobiles. Whereas I used to be making a wholesome dwelling, I made a decision I wished my profession and my ardour to be intertwined. On a whim I made a decision to threat leaving my comfy job with a mere brand idea and begin my new profession working with automobiles. I turned an auto dealer promoting the newest and best automobiles to purchasers. Anytime a brand new automotive got here out, I’d analysis the hell out of it to see if I ought to advocate it to purchasers or not. I’d by no means advocate a automobile I wouldn’t drive myself.
Feels like you recognize your stuff! How about when it got here to modifying automobiles?
I’ve at all times modified my very own automobiles to make it distinctive and match my fashion, with my first automobile, a 1991 Nissan 240SX, to 14 automobiles later, my present every day, a Tesla Model 3 twin motor and challenge automotive, the Mitsubishi Bravo.
How’d you uncover Kei automobiles?
On my free time, I’ve at all times loved trying up automobiles you don’t at all times see in the US. I randomly stumbled upon a video about Kei automobiles and what categorizes a automobile to be a Kei automotive. Sometimes, after I uncover one thing new, I obsess over it to the purpose the place I must learn each article and watch each video I can discover. I got here throughout this video that confirmed a modified Kei truck and that’s after I realized I wanted one. It was totally different, distinctive and undoubtedly not one thing you sometimes see in California. I spotted if I did get the Kei truck, I wouldn’t be capable of get pleasure from it with my household. My spouse and daughter normally accompany me to automotive occasions, plus we take drives to the seaside on the weekends. That’s after I realized the van would higher go well with us.
Are you able to disclose to us the way you had been in a position to choose up the Bravo?
I began doing analysis and contacting importers to see how I may purchase one. After two lengthy months of looking out, I randomly got here throughout a Craigslist advert that had a really imprecise important picture and outline. As soon as I spotted it was a Kei van that was situated simply 30 miles away, I knew this was it! My spouse and I made a decision to go away work on a Tuesday afternoon with money in hand figuring out we’re coming residence with the automotive it doesn’t matter what.
A pleasant discover! However how had been you in a position to register it in California?
As soon as we acquired it, we began exhibiting it off like a baby with a brand new toy, however we saved listening to how it could be almost unimaginable to register it in California; the automobile was registered in Pennsylvania on the time. Realizing it could be very troublesome, I made a decision to tackle the problem. Because it’s a Japanese import, there are 11 characters within the VIN as a substitute of the same old 17, evidently the DMV didn’t have any information on this automotive of their system. I used to be despatched to CHP [California Highway Patrol] for VIN verification and was advised I would wish the title, all import paperwork, smog and insurance coverage. Within the meantime, they issued short-term registration. Appointment with CHP was set, I used to be nervous as hell, then the pandemic hit. My appointment was canceled till additional discover. Whereas modifying the van, I used to be persistent on calling them weekly to see once they can see me. Just a few months later they gave me a date! Simply my luck, the CHP VIN officer was additionally a automotive man. He couldn’t cease smiling when he noticed the van. He stated it was so totally different from the standard autos he normally inspects. He took the automotive out again, was the longest 30 minutes of my life, and got here again with a signed and stamped VIN verification type. I instantly ran to the DMV to seize my plates earlier than they modified their minds.
Sounds such as you had been on the proper place on the proper time! Are you able to inform us slightly bit about it?
The Bravo weighs in at 1,920 kilos, has a 660cc four-cylinder, high velocity of 75mph and all-wheel-drive. It’s a 53hp beast! Haha! This explicit mannequin has an extended title for one thing of its measurement, Mitsubishi Bravo Tremendous Exceed with a Tremendous Aero Panoramic Roof.
Feels like fairly the beast certainly—hah! What’s it prefer to drive?
Though it’s the slowest factor I’ve ever owned, it’s undoubtedly a enjoyable expertise to drive it. Shopping for it, I didn’t suppose I’d get pleasure from driving it as a lot. It was a problem studying to drive with the steering wheel being on the precise aspect, but it surely’s simple to toggle backwards and forwards with my every day driver now.
Another Kei automobiles you’re pondering of shopping for?
I hope to select up a 1994 Toyota Sera. It’s also a JDM Kei automotive with distinctive gullwing doorways.
Final however not least, what are you able to inform anybody pondering of choosing up their very personal Kei automotive, van or truck?
Be certain it’s a rust-free instance. Any and all elements have to return from Japan, so count on to pay excessive delivery on your elements. I extremely advocate becoming a member of Fb teams for Kei vans and vans. I’ve realized quite a bit just by interacting with some individuals who personal comparable automobiles within the U.S.; nevertheless, on the finish of the day, it’s the identical mechanics as some other automotive, in a shrunken type.
1994 Mitsubishi Bravo Tremendous Exceed Particulars
POWER 53hp; 49 lb-ft of torque
ENGINE 660cc four-cylinder engine
DRIVETRAIN three-speed automated transmission; all-wheel-drive
FOOTWORK & CHASSIS inventory
WHEELS & TIRES 15×7” Enkei Enkei92 wheels; 195/50R15 Hankook Ventus tires
EXTERIOR 3M Gentle Pistachio and Satin Silver vinyl wrap by Gotch Design; JDM reverse alarm; 3D printed rear emblems; 1997-spec aspect mirrors
INTERIOR NRG Improvements wooden grain steering wheel; HKB Boss steering wheel hub adapter; LED lights; customized sound system with 6.5” Sunset subwoofer
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