Japan only stopped building them in 1998.
The United States wanted to help rebuild a devastated Japan following its surrender which ultimately ended World War II. The island nation was in ruins and its once-mighty industries-turned military suppliers were desperate for financial aid and business. One of them was Mitsubishi. Going back a few years during the hostilities, the Japanese army captured a US Army Jeep and sent it home to be reverse-engineered.
Needless to say, Japanese engineers were extremely impressed by what their American adversaries had created and were keen to advance their own version. The original Toyota Land Cruiser was the first result. But in 1953, Willys (the Jeep brand's original predecessor) made a deal with Mitsubishi that would see the latter market the civilian CJ as a rival to the Land Cruiser and also then-new Nissan Patrol.
The Mitsubishi J-Series was born and it remained in production until 1998 when new emissions and safety regulations kicked in. Its successor was the also recently discontinued Mitsubishi Pajero. During its 45-year lifetime, around 200,000 examples were built on short, medium, and long wheelbases. SUV, station wagon, and convertible body styles were available and so were a range of gasoline and diesel engines.
Mitsubishi only offered the Jeep with a manual transmission, making this 4x4 truly old school. Beginning with the 1995 model year (soon to be 1996), the 25-year import ban has expired, thus making it possible for Americans to own one of these right-hand-drive-only CJs.
This 1995 Mitsubishi Jeep is currently being offered for sale by Vans From Japan, based in Sacramento, California. This example is based on the CJ-3B body style and was imported to the US in 2000.
It's powered by a 2.7-liter turbo-diesel inline-four rated at 100 horsepower, paired to a four-speed manual and a transfer case with high and low range that sends power to all four wheels. Just 64,600 miles are on the clock. Other features include the original black vinyl seats with plaid inserts, 'Jeep' hood decals, rear spare tire, Jerry can and rear mount, Bikini top, a 24-volt electrical system, folding windshield, and a tool kit. There's reportedly some minor rust on the lower tailgate and the tires will need to be replaced in the near future.
Best of all, it is 100 percent federally legal and the sale includes all importation documents. Priced at a very reasonable $9,500, this Mitsubishi Jeep still has years of life left in it.