Just as we finish whining our arses off about how tough it is to decide between freezing said arses at the Detroit Auto Show or Tokyo Auto Salon – and attending neither because we’re busy with the magazine – Damon Lavrinc of Autoblog rubs salt in the wound by emailing us to say that Mitsubishi had not one, not two, but three legendary machines on display in Motown. Aargh!
This travesty is somewhat tempered by the fact that we’ve seen the Starion at JCCS and the ’81 Lancer at the LA Auto Show, but oh baby, that third one is a gem. There, glimmering in all its chocolaty brown glory, is the Galant GTO R73-X concept that originally debuted at the 1972 Tokyo Motor Show.
Looking absolutely wicked, like something out of Mad Max, the R73-X was based on the existing Galant GTO. Mitsu extended the fenders and hood (now with scoop!) by 60mm for the potential to house several different engines, including a 6-cylinder. The show car, however, was equipped with the R69B, a 2.0L four-cylinder whose dual overhead cams, 16 valves, and 180PS was capable of mowing down post-apocalyptic biker gangs at 137mph. Sadly, much like the Road Warrior, this car was also doomed by an oil crisis. In 1973, Mitsu suspended their racing program as a result of the OPEC embargo and cost overruns from tighter emissions controls ensured the motor was never produced. In what’s surely one of history’s minor tragedies, this means we missed out on the R73-X’s hidden adjustable spoiler, activated from the cockpit.
Of course, these relics were all an effort to draw attention to the 2009 Lancer Ralliart, which slots in between the base Lancer and bat-guano-insane Evo X, and the Concept-RA, whose engine is pushing through the hood like cold nipples in a tight shirt.
Hats off to the Triple Diamond Mafia for really pushing its heritage on the auto show circuit. Last year at Motown, they showed King of Cars, the 1974 Lancer 1600GSR of the East African Rally car at Motor City, and in 2006, the 1937 PX-33 at Paris.
Thanks, Damon. Hopefully we’ll catch you next year in Detroit!