The Mitsubishi L300 is practically ingrained into Philippine automotive culture. Its Versa Van body style saw widespread use from household transport to emergency vehicle, even becoming famous (or infamous) as a regular getaway van for villains in countless Pinoy action movies.
The Mitsubishi L300 has become a staple workhorse for small and medium businesses
Both the van and the Asian Utility Vehicle (AUV) variant have been in the Philippine market since the 1980s. The latter was more flexible in nature, and has been assembled in a variety of configurations from family business (FB), watertight aluminum van (WT), drop side (DS), and minibus variants. When the Versa Van was discontinued in 2012, the AUV trim soldiered on until 2017. Thankfully, Mitsubishi PH refused to let a legend fade away, resurrecting the L300 AUV two years later with an updated engine for the local market.
Small and medium entrepreneurs have found a dependable workhorse in the L300, and its ubiquity on the roads has benefitted owners of the Mitsubishi Adventure AUV as well, with the two vehicles sharing a considerable number of components. The robust nature of the L300 series has made it a dependable partner for generations of businesses, and it comes as no surprise that owners have come to regard them as family.
For Ernest Yu, president of the Mitsubishi L300 Enthusiast Club, the L300 is more than just a tool for making a living. Back in the 90s when his family owned a hardware store, they bought an L300 for deliveries. The vehicle assumed other roles as well, serving as a school shuttle and family van. Throughout the years that it endured countless arduous tasks, not once did their L300 experience a breakdown.
Ernest Yu bought back the family's L300 that had been sold during rough times
Soon the family fell on hard times and had to sell their trusty steed to a relative. The family’s youngest son, Ernest was the most affected since his engineering course led him to appreciate the L300’s attributes. After the family managed to recover financially, he bought back the L300 and used his technical knowledge to revive the van, naming it “Legend”. Ernest worked as a volunteer during the enhanced community quarantine, engaging in street disinfection activities as well as shuttling frontliners.
“Iba ang connection ang na-feel ko with our L300. Ilang beses na siya nasubukan pero never bumigay,” he explains. (I felt a unique connection with our L300. It’s been tested many times and it still keeps on running.)
“Kaya when I saw the opportunity to buy it back, I didn’t think twice. It is not just a family van for me but a van that is part of our family.”
Another L300 owner, Jessie Cabral, wasn’t initially sold on the L300 right away. He acquired the vehicle six years ago, which he used both for his delivery business and outreach activities, traveling to as far as Dingalan in Aurora province delivering supplies for an Aeta tribe. Not even winding roads and river crossings caused problems for his L300. When quarantine restrictions affected his business, he switched to providing a shuttle service for companies.
Like the flexible L300, Jessie Cabral rolled with the punches that life threw at him
At present, Jessie is vice-president of the L300 Club of the Philippines, and advises others to emulate the flexible nature of the L300. “Sa buhay, kailangan maging madiskarte at mabilis mag-adjust. Hindi ka pwedeng basta na lang magpapatalo. Sa bawat pagsubok, dapat bukas ang mga mata para sa opportunity na maaari nating ma-maximize.” (In life, one has to be adaptable and quickly adjust. Moping around in defeat won’t do you any good. With every challenge, you need to keep an eye out for opportunities that you can maximize.)
Since its introduction to the Philippine market three decades ago, the L300 has sold more than 190,000 units, recently celebrating its 200,000th production milestone. The legendary 2.5L 4D56 engine played a big part in its reputation for reliability, and now its new Euro 4-compliant 2.2L turbo CRDi mill is poised to enhance the L300’s inherent qualities of strength, durability, and ease of maintenance. Ernest and Jessie’s stories are only part of the L300’s enduring history that’s still being written with every kilometer traveled on the road.
Read about the stories behind the most iconic rides at Philkotse.com.
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