The Mitsubishi Galant GTO was produced from 1970 through 1975 and also known as the Colt Galant GTO. The design was inspired by American Pony Cars such as the Mustang and Firebird. This is understandable since the designer, Hiroaki Kamisago, had studied at the Art Center College of Design located in Pasadena, California. The long hood and rounded head- and tail-lamps are very indicative of the American influence. This marked the first time a Japanese passenger car had a pillar-less design and full side windows.
The Galant GTO was originally available in three configurations. The M1 was equipped with a 1600 cc SOHC four-cylinder engine and a four-speed manual gearbox. The M2 upgraded the gearbox to a five-speed unit. The MR had both the upgraded gearbox and a modified engine. The engine was the 1600 CC engine but with twin-carburetors and a DOHC. The MR was only available for the Japanese market. By 1972 Mitsubishi offered the vehicle with upgraded equipment including the gearbox and the engine. The LS version was powered by a 2000 cc single-carburetor engine with an automatic gearbox. The GS had a five-speed manual gearbox. The GS-R was given aesthetic and performance improvements including a 2000 cc twin-carbureted engine that produced an impressive 125 horsepower. The five-speed manual gearbox, large 185 inch tires, and flared guards gave the vehicle an impressive stance and performance characteristics.
There was little change in 1973 but in 1974 Mitsubishi decided to modernize the styling a little with a honeycomb-style front grille. Near the close of production a few of the vehicles were outfitted with the Astron 80 engine which featured Mitsubishi's 'Silent Shaft' system.
Production ended in 1975 and the name was not used again until 1990 when it adorned some of the most impressive sports cars to ever roll out of the Mitsubishi Assembly Plants.
On the homeland the new vehicle was known as the GTO. The exported version was dubbed the 3000GT. The vehicle was sold by Chrysler in North America and mimicked by their sibling company, Dodge, producing the Dodge Stealth. There were few styling and detail differences between the two vehicles. Production lasted from 1991 through 1996.
By this time, many Asian marque's were producing an impressive line of sports cars such as the Nissan 300ZX, Mazda RX-7, and the Toyota Supra. Mitsubishi was in need of a sports car that could compete and uphold the company's image. The Mitsubishi HSX concept car had been shown at the 1989 Tokyo Motor Show to much praise. Mitsubishi decided to go forward with the production of a sports car giving it the name 'GTO' in honor of the Mitsubishi sports cars built during the early 1970s. There were talks that the Dodge Stealth would be used as the pace car for the 1991 Indianapolis 500 but there was too much controversy surrounding the decision. Many were angry that a Japanese-manufactured car was being considered when Dodge had other impressive vehicles available such as the Dodge Viper. Eventually, the Dodge Viper was used.
The GTO/3000GT was given an aerodynamic and attractive body complete with automatically-adjusting front and rear spoilers, and pop-up headlights. Performance was enhanced by the four-wheel drive system, four-wheel steering, electronically controlled suspension, and tunable exhaust. Most markets received the TD04-9b turbochargers but in Europe they were given twin-turbo TD04-13g turbochargers which greatly improve the performance. This made them well suited for high speed road ways such as Germany's autobahn.
The Mitsubishi GTO/3000GT was given a face lift in 1994 that included a revised front and rear bumper and round fog lights. The caps on the hood that had controlled the ECS system were no longer on the hood. The faux side air vents were modified slightly. The vehicle became safer with dual air bags. The air conditioning system was also improved. The performance characteristics were enhanced with larger wheel and tire combinations available. Horsepower and torque was improved and the VR-4 now came standard with a six-speed Getrag transmission. The tunable exhaust was no longer offered and the ECS disappeared in 1995. The active aerodynamics was fazed out in 1996. These loss in components were an effort by the company to help reduce cost while continue to offer the products that gave most of their customers the greatest amount of satisfaction.
For both 1995 and 1996 Mitsubishi offered special editions of the 3000GT in the United States. These versions included a carbon fiber retractable hardtop which was operated electronically by a button. Though this was rather impressive technology, it was not very popular and no longer offered after 1996 due to slow sales.
The Mitsubishi 3000GT would continue for several more years, ending in 1999. Production of the Dodge Stealth ceased in 1996.By Daniel Vaughan | Aug 2009