In car-loving culture, I’ve witnessed an interesting tendency to reject the SUV and crossover as the de facto modern dad cars, replacing them instead with the humble, practical minivan, which has oodles of interior and cargo space — perfect for the family man. But, for the longest time, the minivan has been the poster child for super-lame dad-status. Not as macho as an SUV, not as fun or svelte as a sports sedan. I get that, I really do, especially if you love cars. Maybe more enthusiasts will warm up to the idea of the minivan as so-practical-it’s-cool — not unlike the Hypebeast’s love of dad-wear — but in the meantime, I can safely say there is one minivan that is undeniably and irrefutably rad as fuck.
That’d be the Mitsubishi Delica Star Wagon, a name that so beautifully fits with its ’80s Space Shuttle aesthetic it brings a tear to my eye. It’s a Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) minivan that’s now finally old enough to bring stateside. It has seating for seven. It has four moonroofs. It has rear seats that swivel so the entire back half of the cabin can become a delightful ’90s lounge, complete with curtains. More specifically, this Star Wagon comes with an honest-to-god 4×4 system with a two-speed transfer case, making it a legitimate force off-road. In fact, in Canada, where JDM cars can be imported after they’re only 15 years old (not 25 like in the US), the Delica has long been a prime choice for proto #vanlifers.
So much more than just a school-and-Costco-runner, this Delica is your shuttle to the great outdoors. More importantly, it is a shuttle for you and your kids. Imagine the connections you’ll forge and the memories you’ll make, as you drive it into the wilderness, gear and provisions in tow. You’ll longingly gaze at nature’s beauty and not your iPads. This is something you cannot do with a Honda Odyssey or Crysler Pacifica, which is exactly why most people think they’re lame but think Range Rovers and Land Cruisers aren’t — even if a mere fraction of their owners actually drive them into the shit.
Then, on Monday, you can pull into the school drop-off zone, your van still caked in mud from your weekend off the grid. Your fellow dads will look at your filthy Mitsubishi in wide-eyed confusion and envy, loudly inquiring “What is that!?” You’ll then calmly and cooly reply, “It’s a Star Wagon, sir,” and continue on with the rest of your life with the kind of satisfaction you won’t get from a modern and ubiquitous crossover, SUV or minivan. Congratulations, you’re officially The One True Rad Dad, and it cost you less than $11,000.
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