Mitsubishi’s L200 pick-up has driven off with What Van’s annual Pick-up of the Year award for as long as anybody can remember. Steve Banner gives some tips on what to expect when trying to purchase one.
T he L200 has always been a strong seller in its sector, in part thanks to Mitsubishi’s policy of building up a cult image for the vehicle with specially equipped variants such as the Warrior, Animal, Barbarian, Trojan and Raging Bull, all style icons and ideal for carrying a few surfboards down to the beach. More prosaic workhorses aimed at builders and farmers are available too however, under the 4Work and 4Life banners.
While the L200 is invariably depicted as a four-door double cab, there are other variants. They include the two-door single cab, also up for grabs in extended guise as a two-door club cab. In the past the L200 was sold as a 4x2, but in recent years has been marketed as a 4x4 only. Five years ago it underwent a major redesign, including an exterior restyling and the introduction of a Euro4 2.5-litre 134hp common rail diesel. Fast forward to spring 2009 and a long-bed model debuted that addressed one of the main drawbacks of the double cab: the comparatively short cargo floor.
If you’re buying an L200 it’s almost certain to be a 4x4, so the first thing you should do is take a good look underneath to see if it’s sustained any damage while venturing off-road. If the underside is filthy, clean it. Caked mud can hide a multitude of sins; dented and corroded sills for instance, or incipient rust in the wheel arches.
Take an especially close look at the suspension, checking for damaged or broken springs and dampers, and examine wheels and tyres. Buckled wheels may indicate that the truck has taken a hammering in the rough, and uneven tyre tread wear is an indicator the wheels have become misaligned as a consequence. Also check tyres for any bulges in the sidewall, cuts or foreign bodies embedded in the tread. And while peering at the underside, see if any patches of oil or water have formed on the ground – they could be evidence of leaks.
Examine the load area. Many L200s have been equipped with load-area hard tops of varying descriptions. Check them for damage and leaks, and take a look at the cargo bed itself – a surprising number of double-cab pick-up load boxes are not lined and suffer accordingly.
A lot of pick-ups are fitted with tow-bars. If your L200 is equipped with a heavy truck-style tachograph along with its tow-bar then it may have been regularly used to haul a big, heavily laden trailer. Odds are that the engine and transmission, as well as the rear suspension, will have suffered excessive wear as a consequence.
It’s sensible, of course, to drive your prospective purchase. Start the engine – if the exhaust smoke is thick, black and oily then that is unlikely to be good news; and listen for any suspicious rattles both while the engine is idling and when on the move. Check for play in the steering and the quality of the gear change offered by the five-speed ’box. Be sure, too, to engage four-wheel drive and to switch to the lower set of gears at some point.
Automatic L200s are around and it’s worth noting that some are equipped with Super Select. Including traction control, it features a central viscous coupling that automatically adjusts the front/rear torque split depending on driving conditions. If your L200 is laden with goodies such as this, make sure they all function. That includes the electric windows and mirrors, and the radio/CD player.
Remember to examine the paperwork, casting an eye over the stamps in the service book to ensure the Mitsubishi has been regularly maintained. And make sure the vendor’s name and address are
the same as the ones shown on
the V5 log-book, and that the
Vehicle Identification Number and the one on the V5 match. You
should also touch base with HPI – www.hpicheck.com – to see if the vehicle is subject to an outstanding finance agreement, is stolen or is an insurance write-off.
It may be that an L200 is a grey import not originally brought into the UK by the official Mitsubishi distributor. If it is, then bear in mind that the specification may differ significantly from the one found on official imports, and that parts and technical information may be harder – though not impossible – to come by as a consequence.
So how much can you expect to pay for your L200 and its 1000kg-plus payload capacity? Manheim Auctions recently disposed of a 2007-vintage 07-registered 4Work Double Cab with 71,000 miles recorded for £4850. From the same year, but 57-registered, a 4Work Club Cab with 46,000 miles on the clock sold for £5900. Dating back to 2008, and with a 08 plate, a Warrior Double Cab that had covered 29,000 miles went for £9900.
Auctioneer BCA disposed of a 2009 Warrior Double Cab – 59 plate – with just 7000 miles recorded for £13,950. At the other end of the mileage scale, an auto Elegance Double Cab – 2008 and on a 08 plate – with a hefty 100,000 miles behind it sold for £8300.
Bad weather in late 2010/early 2011 gave 4x4 pick-up sales – and prices – a boost. Our bet is that prices will continue to rise steadily during the rest of the year as a shortage of late-registered used models starts to have an impact. If you see an L200 you like, and everything about it checks out, then buy it now. It’s unlikely to get any cheaper.