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1991 Mitsubishi Minicab U41V Resto

Discussion in 'Mitsubishi Minicab' started by MiniMitsuFrank, Mar 9, 2019.

  1. It can be hard out there for a diy’r to find specific information on these wonderful vehicles, especially if you live in a county where they are neither manufactured or sold! As such, this thread is dedicated to document the various projects I perform on my beloved 1991 Mitsubishi Minicab Bravo van. Feel free to ask questions and share lots of pics of sweet upgrades or repairs to you minitrucks and vans.

    Whether you also own a Mitsu Van or any other kei truck, I hope that the information I share, and we all share can help some others during their project.

    Mighty Mitsu
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2019
  2. Here is the current state of my Minicab project, currently titled “Mighty Mitsu”

    Here some of the general specs:

    3 Cyl., 660cc SOHC engine #3G83
    4 Speed Manual on floor #RM411
    Stock Tire Size: 145R12 (these are trailer tires and often don’t come with an aspect ratio listed, I believe the aspect ratio is 80%, or 145-80R12.
    Overall Stock Wheel Diameter: 21.5”
    Stock rim: 12x3.5” / 4x114.3mm OR 4x4.5in lug pattern/ 3” Backspace / 1.75” + offset
    Lug Nut: 12mmx1.5
    Payload: 355kg / 780 lbs
    Weight: 1700 lbs

    Here are a few projects I’ve already completed and will share photos on:

    -removal of headliner and adhesive, installation of foam insulation, hardboard, wood paneling.

    -remove and replacement of all door panels with 1/4” ply

    -removal of old factory floor silencer and install of new butyl sheet silencer on all floor boards, interior body panels, doors, seat pans, and rear hatch

    -Complete pro grade wiring of 4-way speaker system (stock version came with one speaker in dash and am/fm only) & install of new Bluetooth headunit (they fit perfect with the stock faceplate in these models. Bonus!)

    -Builtand fit custom ABS plastic speaker mounts/rings

    -Built and fit “pocket panels”

    -Rust removal and painting of many bolts and small parts. Like wayyyy to many.

    -replacement of transmission mount

    -Patch and repair of 4”x8” hole in front driver side wheel well/floor pan

    -Plugging of lower exterior body panel drain holes

    -Installation of mini bull bar and 2 51-watt LED lights with quick disconnect and mounting of LED halo switch in dashboard

    -Just finished today: fitting aftermarket 13x6 rims and 185-60R13 tires!

    I’ll be getting into replacing or refurbishing most of the suspension and doing engine maintenance and also other fun stuff like carb rebuild, refurbish thermostat, remove crank fan & install electric fan, install a dash mounted tach (this van has no tach in the dash? What the??) replace prop U-joints, etc.

    I should also mention that the van currently runs exceptionally well considering that lack of TLC it has received over the years. I’ve owned it since January 2nd, 2019.

    Can’t wait to hear about your project!

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Mar 24, 2019
  3. This is the Mighty Mitsu about 1 hour after purchase. A cold hard $1000.

    Attached Files:

  4. punimog

    punimog New Member

    Awesome van! Look forward to seeing your work on this.
  5. Thanks punimog! I plan on uploading photos/details of some of the work I've completed this weekend!

    What kind of rig are you running??

    Mitsu Frank
  6. punimog

    punimog New Member

    Still in the planning phase. I think I will eventually get a Carry. Still saving and looking for the perfect one. I want a locking diff, but I would also like to be able to achieve highway speeds. Love the vans though and for the right price would snap one up for a commuter project.
  7. Nice! I remember spending significant time researching and planning before pulling the trigger as well... and I essentially ended up doing what you mention- found it for a great price and currently restoring it into a daily driver.

    Good luck on your search brotha!
    punimog likes this.
  8. Here was the first task of the Mitsu: Admire the stains and holes and failing glue of the headliner. Second task: get to work.

    Attached Files:

  9. Photos of the foam and adhesive from the old headliner stuck to the metal roof. I first attempted to grind it off with a clay wheel, but it was slow going, so I applied citrus stripper to a portion to see if it help breakdown the adhesive under the foam, and it did. One problem, I some areas I let it dwell too long and it remove the paint. Oops. As I worked from the back of the van toward the front, the foam started to come off in larger chunks and became easier to remove. I also used some diet-coke I had to remove the light surface rust dotting the roof bows, using soft steel wool to wipe it off.

    Attached Files:

  10. *I didn't do a very good job of documenting many of my earlier task/steps, so I'll do my best to answer any questions you might have.

    The first photo here shows the roof interior after removing all the old foam and adhesive, cleaning it thoroughly using neutral cleaners/adhesive remover/and isopropyl alcohol to final-clean the surface. During the cleaning, a lot of the paint came off. I knew I would be sealing the roof with another adhesive and foam insulation, so I was not concerned about painting it before moving forward. Maybe that will turn out to be a mistake. I did this work in early Jan. 2019, and it is March 23, 2019 today, and so far the roof has held up incredibly well through the change from 30-degree F weather to high 60s/low 70s weather right now (VERY uncharacteristic for March in this part of the US).

    Second photo: An even more painstaking task- removing the factory "silencer" from the rear floor panel, rear passenger floor panel, front floor panel/engine wall. I used a dulled-pry bar as a chisel and a 10-lb dumbell as my hammer because it needed the extra weight to chip half-dollar sized pieces free at a time. This was an old commercial van in Japan, so the rear silencer was really melded to the metal floor panel due to all the impact and weight of "who-knows-what" being loaded in the back. So as with the roof, the silencers became easier to remove, and broke off cleaner and in larger chunks. Once again I was thankful to have things get easier as they went along.

    I wish I had been documenting these early steps better!

    Attached Files:

  11. Photos of new sound/heat dampening applied to the entire floor, center console and seat pans. I bought 2 boxes of 36 sq. ft. butyl sheets on Amazon. They can get a little spendy, but If you plan to drive your kei often, I think they are absolutely worth the investment.

    Attached Files:

  12. More photos of sound/heat dampening:

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  13. Here are photos of the 1'/2" one-foil-sided insulation before and after installation. I measured and cut pieces, working from the rear toward the front and always starting with the side pieces and cutting the middles after them....hopefully that makes sense, let me know if it doesn't!

    My goal was to cut the pieces so they fit snugly without any adhesive holding it to the roof, which I was planning on doing anyway. This made it a breeze to glue-in the pieces when it came time because I didn't need to use a single brace or shore pole to prop the insulation up against the roof while the adhesive cured. The cutting of the foam was easy using a small hand saw or serrated knife. The tedious part was sometimes repeatedly shaving down edges to make sure the pieces up front were snug, as the roof gets curvier and the angles more extreme.

    The white spots on the foil in the last pic are just pieces of foam sticking to the panel with the power of static electricity.

    Attached Files:

  14. Perfectionists and professional fabricators be warned. The pictures you are about to see contain images revealing shotty workmanship and a "good enough, she'll hold" approach. Enjoy.

    Here were the steps:

    1) Remove clear plastic previous owner screwed over hole using sheet metal screws. Also remove screws., Assess damage.
    2) Cut the hole edges to make a cleaner, more consistent surface using a cutting wheel
    3) Grind edges and surrounding area free from rust and paint.
    4) Trace and cut cardboard template for metal to patch hole.
    5) Cut and fit sheet metal piece (I used a cutting wheel to cut it out)
    6) Cut metal piece into "strips" to allow articulation and fill small gaps.
    7) Screw metal pieces into place
    8) Apply liberal amounts of Steel-Weld to top-side and bottom-side of all joints and edges
    9) Let cure 24 hours, then apply more Steel-Weld where needed
    10) Cut off back side of screws (they are there forever now, as planned)
    11) Apply bondo and sand. Repeat. Repeat. Call it good, your arms are getting tired)
    12) Buy an orbital sander
    13) Apply two thin coats of primer and 2 coats of metallic silver to match OEM color. Done.

    P.s. this was my first time patching a hole like this and my first time using bondo as well. I knew it would eventually be covered up with 3 layers of additional material, so the concern for aesthetics was low.

    Drop a comment or a pic if you have done any super sweet backyard repairs like this!

    Attached Files:

  15. Here is a photo of the old + new transmission mount. This mount is for the R4M11 manual 4-speed transmission. It was very easy to replace, just make sure you have a breaker bar with adjusting head or a a 6" extension. 3 bolts total in 2 sizes and was easy to replace with a car jack to prop the tranny.

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  16. A few photos of the Mitsubishi Minicab from some snowwy days in January...

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  17. Here are before and after photos of the head unit / stereo replacement in the Minicab. I wish I would have documented this better and photographed the wire connections and wire pulling process for the speakers. The hardest part was matching wires from the new harness to the ones feeding the old am/fm radio. I eventually figured it out and soldered all my stereo wire connections then double insulated them with tesa brand cloth tape and then standard electrical tape. I purchased a cheap $50 JVC head unit that has bluetooth, a 1.5 amp usb charger, aux hook up, and also spotify/pandora/i heart radio and works awesome. It also has like 50 different color options. It fits like it was designed for the Mitsubishi Minicab. Very happy with it after about 6 weeks of getting my jam on. I drive this almost every day right now and it's so mush fun to cruise around in.

    Attached Files:

  18. Here are very few photos of: custom ABS plastic speaker brackets (highly recommend this material if you have to make brackets, cheap and very easy to work with!) as well as ABS "pocket panels" which I made to fill in the small spaces created by the door frame members. Again, I did a poor job documenting this part of it, so here is a quick break down of what I did in these photos:

    -Remove old interior panel and vapor barrier (plastic sheet behind OEM hard-board panels)
    -Clean inside of door thoroughly
    -Installed butyl sound/heat proofing sheets inside all doors, rear quarter panel, and rear hatch
    -Cut and installed "pocket panels" from ABS plastic and heat molded them into place
    -Double soundproofed pocket panels with butyl sheet and foam sound deadener
    -Cut, mold, installed ABS speaker brackets (had no template to use or old bracket, so made them from scratch)
    -For all of these panels/brackets, I used rivet-nuts and simply inserted 10-24 size into existing holes, then used, you guessed it, 10-24 size machine screws with a pan (and later truss) head to secure them. I have used a hand-riveter to install over 120 bolts/screws so far and I highly recommend you get one if you want interior panels that can removed hundreds of times without damaging them or having to replace those little plastic retainer clips they come with! You can order it cheap on Amazon.
    -Finally, I sound-proofed as well as I could directly behind the speaker to improve sound quality AND DAMN DID IT WORK. The speakers are the "slim line" model from Blaupunkt, which were very cheap ($65 for all 4- 2x6.5" in the front & 2x 6x9" in the back).
    -The rear speaker panels/boxes took the longest....photos to come.....


    Attached Files:

    punimog likes this.
  19. Here are photos of the rear speaker panels/boxes.

    Due to the limited backspacing on the rear quarter panels, I had to build them like "boxes" in order to move the face away from the metal moutning surface in order to create enough backspace for the speakers. I will also be installing a secondary fuse box to run my lights from in the future, so this will give me ample room for that as well.

    This was one of the longest tasks I've completed to date due to the fitting of the panel, adding mdf spacers/rings to the back, sanding and rounding, cutting hole and building additional spacer ring for speaker itself (create a little more backspace), staining the birch plywood 3 times, and finally adding 6 coats of spar polyurethane to protect it through temp/humidity changes for years to come!

    In the last photo, you can see the sliding door panel installed next to the rear speaker panel. This panel, along with the front door, will be upholstered as that was my plan from the beginning. I considered finishing them in the same way as the rear speaker panels, but birch is very unforgiving when staining and applying poly is a long, multiple day process and these panels will inevitably get dinged and scratched and I just dont want to see that happen with all the effort gone into it! Or maybe I'm just being lazy because it would look pretty cool with that same wood finish. Alas, there are a ton a fabrics out there that would look sweet on these panels. Any ideas?? let me know....

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    Jason Thorell and punimog like this.
  20. Latest update! Finished A LOT since the last post:

    -Front Bumper light bar and red led hi beam lights (Both from Amazon)
    -led switch mounted in dash

    -Basset 13x7” racing d-slot wheels (4x4.5” or 4.13mm) & 185-60-r13 superstreet 595 tires
    -Wheels were $60 each on sale from speedwaymotors.com)
    -Tires were $42 (cheapest through Walmart)

    So far the light bar, lights and switch are functioning flawlessly and this van has no hi beam and these come in handy whenever I’m out at night

    The wheels and tires made an incredible difference in the ride, I really couldn’t believe how much smoother and stable the ride felt. The tire might be a little large, but what it lacks in style it make up for in comfort. I’ve gone 55 mph down a long looping decline and these wheels stick.

    As you can see in the pic, I had to trim the wheel well a touch

    Attached Files:

    Jason Thorell likes this.

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