Opinion: Maine’s Mitsubishi Delica Dilemma is Troubling

By Andy Lilienthal

The Mitsubishi Delica is one of those quirky right-hand drive, four-wheel-drive vans from Japan. They’re popular among outdoor enthusiasts, fans of ’80s/’90s “rad-era” vehicles, and people looking for a capable camper without having to spend VW Syncro bucks. But in Maine – The Pine Tree State – Delicas are not welcomed, at least by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. The state has sent letters to owners canceling their registrations.

Thanks to the 25-year import rule, Delicas of the right vintage can be brought into the U.S. with little issue and typically registered with minimal hassle in most states (I’m looking at you, California). However, it came to light recently that Maine was sending letters to Delica owners telling them their registration was canceled, and not because they didn’t do the paperwork correctly.

I first heard about this issue from the MDOC: Mitsubishi Delica Owners Club USA group on Facebook, of which I’m an admin. (Full disclosure, I own a 1994 Delica Space Gear, albeit not in Maine). Some Mainers in MDOC USA posted photos of their state-sent letters talking about how under Maine rules, “minitrucks” can’t be registered, and how they’ll have three weeks to remove their van’s plates and send them back in. This, of course, leaves the owner with a 4,500 lb. JDM paperweight in the shape of a Delica. This didn’t seem right. Perhaps the Maine BMV had simply never seen a Delica.

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