EVENTS: Mitsubishi Owners Day 2016

07-3068_Mitsubishi Colt Galant GTO

Though the company itself has undergone some big changes in 2016, Mitsubishi Owners Day was the same as ever. And by that, we mean as many chrome-bumpered classics as you can count on one hand, a only slightly more 80s cars, and every Lancer Evolution from San Diego to Vancouver. 

03-3061_Mitsubishi Colt Galant GTO

This year, we tried to tip the scales in favor of the classics by arranging a special display of JNC‘s web admin Matt De Mangos’s 1974 Colt Galant GTO GS-R. It would be the car’s first pilgrimage to Mitsubishi Motors’ US headquarters in Cypress, California.

04-3067_Mitsubishi Colt Galant GTO

We arrived bright and early in order to set up in the plaza under the main offices of Mitsubishi’s massive US campus. It’s a spot that’s hosted cars from Mitsubishi’s collection in Japan, concepts, and other rare cars that the automaker have deemed worthy.

15-3172_Mitsubishi Colt Galant GTO

It was quite an honor, actually. We even got our own official-looking placard that provided a brief history of the GTO, written by yours truly. Turns out it was quite necessary, because a good number of Mitsubishi fans had no idea that Mitsubishi had built a homologation special in the class of the Nissan Skyline, Celica GT, or Mazda RX-3 in the 1970s. It was a hit.

05-3076_Mitsubishi Colt Galant GTO

Even though it’s not quite stock, lowered a bit and rolling on 15-inch RS-Watanabes wrapped in Yokohama A048s, the body is stock, including the factory flares. As one of two known Galant GTOs to exist in the US, it’s a good enough history lesson.

14-3137_Mitsubishi Colt Galant GTO

As a side note, I can’t help but rib Matt for being next to a booth prominently labeled “Recall Station Checkpoint.” It was meant to help newer Mitsubishi owners affected by the huge Takata airbag scandal, but it was funny nonetheless.

46-3158_Mitsubishi Lancer EvoX Final Edition

Nearby, the last Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution built for North America tempered the mood. It was Final Edition number 1,600 of 1,600, a car that ends a long and storied lineage of Mitsubishi performance cars. Mitsubishi had set up a photo stand for fans to take pictures with the last of the breed, but the bittersweet acceptance of the Evo’s end was palpable on every face that smiled for the camera.

31-3093_Mitsubishi Pajero Montero 33-3121_Mitsubishi Pajero Montero 32-3174_Mitsubishi Pajero Montero

With the Evo gone, Mitsubishi’s flagship is now the the Pajero, still sold in many countries around the world but not the US. Much of Mitsu’s motorsports legacy was in off-road racing, and the Dakar-dominating SUV should qualify just as much for halo status as any turbocharged sports model. Also, with the values of Toyota Land Cruisers and Nissan Patrols rising, there’s no reason why the Pajero (aka Montero) can’t follow. Several generations of Monteros were in attendance, including a nicely done first-gen and a trick third-gen loaded with JDM and Ralliart parts and accessories.

34-3122_Mitsubishi Mighty Max

Speaking of trucks, tucked between a VR-4 and a first-gen Eclipse, even the Mighty Max pickup was represented, complete with matching camper shell.

35-3098_Mitsubishi Lancer Celeste Plymouth Arrow

As for the rest of the gathering, we counted only two other similar era cars. Mo Castro’s Lancer Celeste, aka Plymouth Arrow, was saved from an Arizona junkyard. As part of the rescue, the car has been swapped with a turbo Starion setup.

28-3100_Mitsubishi Sigma Wagon Dodge Colt 27-3089_Mitsubishi Sigma Wagon Dodge Colt

Josh Mead’s Mitsubishi Sigma Wagon was an original Arizona car with aircon. The Sigma Wagon holds the distinction as being one of the rarest stateside JNCs, sold for only a single year as the Dodge Colt Wagon. It was rear-wheel-drive, much bigger than the Lancer based Colt Sedan sold alongside it, and came with one of the meanest factory steelies ever made. Beside it was Steven Zimbrich’s Mitsubishi Mirage, also confusingly named the Dodge Colt in US markets. Driven as a rally car and sporting a fantastic shade of teal, it was the sole representative of the third-gen Mirage.

42-3128_Mitsubishi Starion 43-3129_Mitsubishi Starion 44-3131_Mitsubishi Starion

Each year at MOD we hope will be the Starion’s breakout showing, but the StarQuests can never seem to crack single-digit attendance. While the ones that do appear have potential, the Starion is an icon of not just Mitsubishi, but Japanese cars of the 1980s, and we’d like to see more restored enough to take center stage at an upcoming MOD.

24-3083_Mitsubishi Galant VR4 26-3180_Mitsubishi Galant VR4 41-3125_Mitsubishi Galant VR4 & Eclipse

One turbocharged 80s Mitsu that is seeing high-quality builds is the Galant VR-4. By all accounts these should be rarer than Starions, but more examples were scattered throughout, from the stock-bodied to the highly modified. One particular standout was a black, JDM-ified example contrasted by distinctly non-JDM, orange Fifteen52 wheels.

39-3175_Mitsubishi 3000GT 38-3124_Mitsubishi GTO

Last but not least, a large number of 3000GTs and their Dodge Stealth twins were present. Most were chuuki and kouki examples, but a few exceptional zenki models made an impression. In particular, it was impossible to pick a favorite between an incredibly clean 1991 in Jamaican Blue Metallic (only 129 VR-4s were believed to be produced in this color) and a genuine, imported, right-hand-drive GTO.

Mitsubishi Colt Galant GTO & Sigma Dodge Colt Wagon & Lancer Celeste Plymouth Arrow

After the show, Matt took his OG GTO for a touge run in the mountains with the Arizona Celeste and Sigma. Despite numbering only three, it was perhaps one of the largest ever all-classic Mitsubishi canyon dashes. If there’s one thing that is clear, there needs to be many more.

In case you missed it, here’s more Mitsubishi Owners Day coverage from 2015, 2014, 2013, and 2008.

Image: Mitsubishi Owners of Arizona

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19 Responses to EVENTS: Mitsubishi Owners Day 2016

  1. brett says:

    Love the Plymouth Arrow.

  2. Falco says:

    Back in the 80s, the local Dodge dealer had a Plymouth Fire Arrow on the lot. At the time I had no idea what it was, just knew that it was extremely cool. He would never sell it though! Sales guys told me it was part of the owners personal collection. I always wondered what happened to it when the dealer closed down years later.

    • Josh mead says:

      I was under the impression that 79 was the only year they shipped over any. Pre orders from 78 being filled in 79 and remaining stock being sold as 1980 models. I will look for my source on that info, but thank you for those brochures!

  3. datsunrides says:

    I really wanted to make it there this year with my 72′ Colt but the stars did not align. Now the goal is to get it to JCCS.

  4. LB1 says:

    Not a popular car, but I looooved the first gen Diamante. I suppose it wasn’t present.

  5. Brian says:

    I am bummed to have missed this one. Last time I went, I had the only Pajero (the black one with the orange stripes). It’s so cool to see all three generations of Montero present at this one. Makes me miss my Gen 1—and want a Gen 3 over my trusty Gen 2.5. That Gen 3 was super duper hot. Kudos to the owner for sure.

    And, while I get the irony of the GTO juxtaposed against the recall booth, the immediate following of the final Final Edition *Lancer* Evolution is another important history lesson.

    It could be said the whole of the community there, even including the Pajero/L200/Delica crowd owes its existence to MMC’s desire to win on the world rally stage in the 80s. We’ve enjoyed some 30-odd years of fun vehicles from Mitsubishi because of the technological advances they made competing in those sports.

    Where some see the end of the Lancer Evolution (which I still think is more Galant Fortis VR4 than Lancer Evo, but that’s semantic BS) as the end of Mitsubishi’s golden era, I see just the opposite. I’ll have some more Kool-Aid, please, because I see the MiEV Evo III dominating on Pike’s Peak and I think, “Mitsubishi’s been shifting toward EVs for a while now. If they can do with EVs what they did with turbos and AWD in the 90s, we’re in for a real treat.”

    So I think those pictures are a good reminder for those of us for whom Shoki Hoko, Shojei Komei, Ritsugyo Boeki, and Ichimai-iwa still mean something we can be proud of. Thanks for the solid—meaningful—coverage.

    • Phil says:

      Well said B. As usual, you’ve hit the nail on the head.

      Loved Rocinante. And the new gen2 is cool too. But take it from me, you need to keep the gen2 if you’re getting a 3rd gen. You just do.

      Ben Hsu, great coverage. Almost makes me want to make the 2500 or so kilometer drive next year with my JDM. Was any indication given if this MOD was a FINAL EDITION?

    • CelicArt says:

      I didn’tget the GTO irony thing…

      • Brian Driggs says:

        The irony being the modern generations, which have the benefit of 30+ years of technological advancements in design, materials, and manufacturing technology, are subject to recall, typically related to risk of life out limb, while the old goat, with its obsolete all of the above, stands proudly as a centerpiece, representative of everything modern technology had promised.

  6. Moises castro says:

    I’ll be bringing some different vintage goodies next year!

  7. Socarboy says:

    Somewhere along the line Mitsubishi lost its mojo..too bad because they had some great cars back in the day. They are in a pitiful state now; maybe Nissan’s control of them will right the ship.

  8. Andrew says:

    I wish the east coast MOD got any vintage cars. 1990 model year cars are about as old as you’l find. Curse this salty east coast climate !

  9. Wade S says:

    my buddy Phil mentioned how this MOD event is very tempting to attend with our JDM’s. 2500 miles is a long haul from Alberta Canada but it would be so worth the trip.

    I would like to see a group of Station/Conquest myself.

    nice to see the an L300 and a few Monty’s made the show.

  10. GatewayZach says:

    Were there any Colt Vista/Summit/RVR in attendance?

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