Kawasaki is celebrating the 30th birthday of the Mule, the first real side-by-side, credited for kickstarting the entire UTV segment. 

It all started with Kawasaki seeing an unserved part of the ATV market, those who needed a little more capability than a small ATV but not quite as much as a pickup truck. And so, the Mule was born in 1988, powered by a 454cc liquid-cooled engine and sporting a 500-pound carrying capacity.

Nicknamed the “Pony,” Kawasaki’s advertising agency came up with the name Multi-Use Light Equipment, which was shortened to MULE.

READ MORE: Steve Austin Introduces New Kawasaki Mule Pro-FXR in New Advertisements

A lot has certainly changed on the Mule since 1988, including the addition of four-wheel drive, locking differentials, the TransCab seating system and a lineup of gasoline and diesel engines. Today, the Mule is built in Lincoln, Nebraska and sold at over 1,100 independent retailers across the Unites States.

While the Mule might not be the best-selling UTV on the market, it still has to been given credit for kicking off a segment that has turned into a massive part of the off-road industry. Happy birthday Mule!

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