Mitsubishi GTO

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Japanese Mitsubishi GTO patrol car

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The original Mitsubishi GTO was launched in 1970 as the two-door hardtop variant of the new Galant sedan, and was known as the Colt Galant GTO. Designed by Hiroaki Kamisago, who had previously been sent by Mitsubishi to study at the Art Center College in Pasadena, it incorporated many stylistic cues from contemporary American wikipedia:muscle cars like the Mustang, Firebird and Cougar, including a long hood, raised cut-off ducktail rear, and rounded quad-headlamps and tail-lamps. It was also the first Japanese passenger car to have full side windows and a pillarless design.

There were three variants available at first, all powered by the Saturn engine: the M1 (1600 cc SOHC, 4-spd), M2 (1600 cc SOHC, 5-spd) and the top-spec MR (1600 cc twin-carb, DOHC 5-spd), a 125 hp (92kW) version only available in Japan.

In 1972 Mitsubishi upgraded the powerplants with their new Astron units. The range now consisted of the LS (2000 cc single-carb, automatic transmission), GS (2000 cc single-carb, 5-speed manual) and GS-R (2000 cc twin-carb, 5-speed manual). They were also given a mild facelift to distinguish them, comprising a one-piece slats-type grille and three-piece tail lights. Additionally, the 125 hp GS-R had wider 185-section tires, flared guards and a black-painted rear panel between the lights.

In 1974 there was a second styling tweak where the car gained a honeycomb-style front grille. Also, some of the very last cars gained the Astron 80 engine with balancer shafts, before the entire range was discontinued the following year in favour of the Celeste, a smaller coupe based on the Lancer sedan.


Mitsubishi GTO manufactured for japanese market

In 1991, Mitsubishi developed a sport coupe to compete with the Toyota Supra, Mazda RX-7, Nissan 300ZX, Chevrolet Corvette, and low-end Porsches. They resurrected the GTO name, and the car went on to serve as Mitsubishi’s flagship for the remainder of the decade. However, despite the cachet of the badge in its home market, it was known as the Mitsubishi 3000GT in Europe, Australia and the United States, to avoid confusion with the Ferrari 250 GTO or the Pontiac GTO.

With some cosmetic changes, the model was also sold by Chrysler in the US from 1991-96 as the Dodge Stealth

Regardless of its badge or eventual target market, every GTO, 3000GT, and Stealth was built on the same production line at MMC's plant in Nagoya, Japan.

The Mitsubishi 3000GT was built in three major versions: base, SL (Sport Luxury), and VR4. In 1995-96 ASC developed a convertible hardtop version known as the Spyder in both VR4 and SL versions and approximately 1600 were produced. Japanese customers also had special lightened and tuned-up MR (Mitsubishi Racing) versions of the GTO. The Dodge Stealth came in base, ES, R/T, and R/T Twin Turbo versions.

Only the twin turbo 4WD version was officially imported and sold in low numbers by Mitsubishi Australia. These were sold at relatively high prices as an exclusive model in the Australian market. However, many more second-hand cars from Japan were later imported by Australian used car importers (like Australia, Japan is a right hand drive nation making used Japanese performance cars a popular import). Used models of the cars officially imported by Mitsubishi and sold new in Australia still command a premium price over the later "grey market" imports where they are advertised as "original Australian compliance plated" models.

The base versions of all model year Dodge Stealths and Mitsubishi 3000GTs from model years 1997-1999 were powered by a 3-liter naturally-aspirated single camshaft V6 engine that created 162 horsepower (121 kW). From 1991-1996, the base model Mitsubishi 3000GT used a DOHC V6 creating an advertised 222 horsepower, which created some difficulty for Mitsubishi in convincing customers to pay the larger price tag on the SL model. The SL (and Stealth R/T) was essentially a luxury version of the base model, with extras such as leather seats, sunroof, and for the Dodge version more detailed body styling. However the main difference was a DOHC engine that offered 222 hp (166 kW). The Stealth ES contained the more powerful (R/T) engine inside the less detailed (base) body, and was only produced from 1991 to 1993. All base, SL, ES, and R/T models had a choice of a 5-speed manual or an automatic transmission, and came with standard front wheel drive. The VR-4, MR, and R/T Twin Turbo models had a twin turbocharged version of the DOHC V6 that created 300 hp (1991-1993, 1994-1999 had 320 hp), all wheel drive, four wheel steering, and a Getrag 6-speed manual transmission (5-speed in 1991-1993 versions). The Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4 had an electronically actuated rear spoiler and a movable air dam under the front fascia from 1991-1996. All VR-4's and SL's featured active electronically controlled suspension which could be switched on the fly between sport and tour modes, and VR-4's from 1991 - 1993 had active exhaust, which could be switched on the fly between sport and tour modes to alter the exhaust note.

These figures yielded impressive performance: 0-60 mph in 4.8 seconds, and the 1/4 mile in 13.6 seconds @ 100.5 mph according to Motor Trend. The car also had a very impressive 155 mph top speed. Unfortunately, due to the all wheel drive system, the car was also heavy at 3,700+ lb.


The car's underpinnings were essentially the same throughout its lifespan, but the exterior went through three alterations after the car was first released in 1991. The car went through numerous "facelifts" through the next couple of years, until U.S. production stopped in 1999 (the other 2 body changes were overseas). Production overseas continued, but no new models were available to the US directly. Mitsubishi's reluctance to create a new chassis for the car and the emergence of the well-received Mitsubishi Eclipse caused the GTO to be discontinued in 2001. The car continues to have a strong fan following.


  • The Dodge Stealth was initially to be used as a pace car for the 1991 Indianapolis 500 race. The UAW, however, did not like the idea of a Japanese-manufactured car being a pace car for the race, and a prototype Dodge Viper was substituted.

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