Mitsubishi used to manufacture fascinating models back in the day, and these vehicles cemented the brand’s reputation as a Japanese automotive powerhouse.
Mitsubishi Motors was the sixth-largest Japanese automaker in 2011 and ranked 19th globally in terms of vehicle production volume.
Apart from crossovers, we haven’t heard much from the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance since its formation in 2016, nor have we seen a new and intriguing vehicle.
This brings us back to a time when Mitsubishi swept the globe and had a successful run not only selling vehicles but also in movies and, most importantly, in motorsports.
We miss the Japanese manufacturer’s famous sports car models, and we’re hoping they can reclaim the mojo that made them a household name in Japan.
Lancer 1600 GSR
This was the forerunner of the renowned Lancer Evolution rally car, which dominated the Group A era and established Mitsubishi as a manufacturer of rugged, dependable vehicles capable of handling the world’s hardest roads.
The Lancer 1600 GSR, a small Japanese car named after the 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine it had, won the Safari Rally Kenya twice in the 1970s, earning the nickname “King of Cars” in Africa.
The FTO is remembered by most Gran Turismo enthusiasts as one of the best vehicles to have in the game, and this holds in real life as well, as Mitsubishi originally positioned the car in the center between the Eclipse and the 3000GT.
The FTO was a two-door coupe with front-wheel drive and a MIVEC V6 engine that was built from 1994 to 2000.
It may have been a lot more popular among car aficionados if Mitsubishi had decided to sell it to the worldwide market sooner, considering it won the Car of the Year Japan award in 1994 and 1995, indicating how good it was.
The car’s name was rumored to have come from the Japanese having difficulty pronouncing “Stallion” in the 1980s, but its nameplate was a mix of the words “Star” and the mythological horse “Arion.”
Anyway, enough with the roots of its name; let’s get to the point of what made this car famous. During its stint as a Hollywood hero vehicle, the Starion was a hit, winning even in the SCCA. It was one of the first turbocharged Japanese sports cars to feature electronic fuel ignition.
The Galant VR-4, which paved the way for the most iconic Mitsubishi car ever manufactured, blazed the rallying road and established Mitsubishi as one of the big boys in the World Rally Championship.
The first vehicle includes the renowned 4G63T engine, all-wheel drive, and four-wheel steering. Mitsubishi crammed all of its modern automotive technology into this late-eighties sedan, making it both sporty and comfortable.
You name it: Need For Speed Underground, Gran Turismo, The Fast, and the Furious. Because of those game and movie titles, the Mitsubishi Eclipse became extremely popular. Not only that, but it’s a fantastic framework for creating your track toy.
Because it uses the same engine as the Lancer Evolution, making massive levels of power is simple, and aftermarket parts are plentiful.
Once the Eclipse is built correctly, there will be no fried piston rings, no threat to the manifold, and no “nearly had you” situations.
In today’s automotive scene, active aero and four-wheel-drive twin-turbos on sports cars are commonplace but turn the clock back 20 years and you’ll find the 3000GT, one of the most technologically sophisticated automobiles of its day.
The 3000GT was more of a GT car than a hardcore sports car, and it was only handicapped by its large curb weight, which hampered its handling despite all of Mitsubishi’s technological advances.
It’s impossible to talk about Mitsubishi without mentioning its own “King of the Desert.” The world’s toughest motor race, the Dakar Rally, was won a record 12 times with their famed Pajero SUV.
However, the Pajero moniker will be phased out in 2021, with Mitsubishi releasing its final edition model in Australia, with only 800 units being produced.
The Lancer Evolution is, without a doubt, the most iconic Mitsubishi model. The rally-bred performance sedan went through ten revisions and countless updates during its model life, making it one of the best all-wheel-drive cars of all time.