Mitsubishi ЯVR Open Gear and Bach to Bach

Car of the Day #14: 1994 Mitsubishi ЯVR Open Gear

Mitsubishi ЯVR Open Gear and Bach to Bach
Mitsubishi ЯVR Open Gear • Mitsubishi

Are you familiar with the word “brougham”?

Plastered on the likes of everything from the Cadillac Series 70 Eldorado Brougham, a gigantic 1950s coupe with epic features, styling, and performance; to the tepid, styled-like-a-fax-machine Daewoo Brougham, the word ‘brougham’ has, sadly,  been changed over the years to mean whatever marketers want it to.

Originally, it came from the good ol’ days of horses and carriages: the driver, up front, was exposed to the elements. Behind, passengers sat in a plush cabin with a squared-off roofline above the rear window. In the early days of motoring, “the help” — often slaves — sat up front in the elements, with the rear passengers covered by a hardtop.

The ‘landaulet’ is a backwards brougham, with the rear passengers exposed to the elements — I have prepared something special regarding that in another story below…

• Source unknown

See? Now you know landaulet and brougham. Which of the two best describes the Mitsubishi ЯVR Open Gear, a convertible crossover with a top that’s surely more brougham than targa…?

The ЯVR Open Gear is exactly the kind of ridiculous “innovation” that makes me excited. Its top is split to accommodate a sliding roof panel that opens above the front seats, with the rear bench remaining fully enclosed—sort of like a backwards GMC Envoy XUV. (Actually, in a traditional sense, I suppose it's a landaulet in reverse.)

Although the rear seats aren’t fully enclosed, it’s the squared-off hatchback roofline that screams ‘brougham,’ at least to me.

Hey, if some vinyl and trim can be a brougham on a shitty ’70s American barge, so can this.

You can chalk up its existence in part to the ’90s obsession with the "outdoors," a decade when many models played to different aspects of the theme. This is where the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 have roots, along with others as diverse as the Subaru Legacy Outback, Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer, Suzuki X90 and Isuzu VehiCROSS.

It wasn’t limited to those, of course, but the Japanese were especially adept at unique features. The ЯVR Open Gear was based on a shortened Mitsubishi Chariot platform, known here in North America as the Mitsubishi Colt Vista Wagon and Eagle Vista Wagon. One of the first MPVs, the family used a bunch of compact car parts underneath a compact van body. Some variants featured sliding doors, to say nothing of the ЯVR Hyper Sports Gear R, with mechanicals from the Galant VR-4.

Whew. Ok. 

• via Mitsubishi

The Open Gear had a sliding top, making it a compact hatchback, crossover, and convertible all in one. With Mitsubishi’s familiar 2.0-litre 4G63 four-cylinder engine under the hood, figure 158 horsepower—more travel hair dryer than box fan.

But with Japan’s network of rural routes, mountainous regions, winter snowfall, and centuries-old walking paths, a convertible crossover starts to make sense. Why not enjoy the sensation of being outdoors while commuting to work or taking the kids to school?

For me, what started as a horse-drawn mobile sanctuary for the wealthy is somehow made more appealing as a Japanese lifestyle crossover. More of this, please.

Watch on YouTube

This is the funniest, most candid interview I’ve seen with a racer in YEARS. It’s an interview with 68-year-old Fabrizia Pons, former co-driver to greats like Michèle Mouton and Jutta Kleinschmidt.

(Ignore how this video was uploaded to YouTube as a “Highlight” because it’s not that at all.)

This year, Pons is co-driving an Isuzu VehiCROSS in the classic category at Dakar, which is not run at an outright, “fastest car wins” manner. The regulations are closer to what many would call a Time-Speed-Distance TSD rally, where the aim is to finish as closely to the prescribed time as possible.

In the interview, Pons expresses her profound, hilarious disappointment that they’re “not going fast enough” for her tastes. It’s fun to watch her candid reaction to the situation she’s found herself in this year after years racing near the front of the pack — she wants to race.

Nothing grinds my gears more than people who believe there’s some sort of gap between genders as far as enthusiasm and aptitude for racing goes.

No matter how far back you go (Bertha Benz), how dangerous (turn-of-the-Century Brooklands), how challenging (WRC), physically demanding (Dakar), full-contact (NASCAR), evenly-matched (IndyCar), or technical (open wheel racing and Formula 1) cars can get — there have always been women banging at the doors to be given a chance to race at the highest levels.

Women belong in Motorsport.