KIDNEY, ANYONE?: One-owner 1979 Dodge Challenger (Mitsubishi Galant Lambda)

The A131 Dodge Challenger is definitely one of the more well-hidden captive import Easter eggs from the Chrysler-Mitsubishi partnership. It, and its Plymouth Sapporo twin, are extremely rare in the US market, but now a clean an example as there ever was has surfaced in Fergus Falls, Minnesota. 

In a time where it was nearly impossible to go fast, the Challenger felt faster than it was. Mitsubishi took various options from the Japanese-spec Galant Λ and offered a car tailored for the American market. A short-ratio transmission was mated to a relatively big and torquey 2.6-liter engine, which was one of the first 4-cylinders in America with a vibration-smoothing balance shaft.

While big, hairy 7.2-liter muscle car Challengers could spin into oblivion at the mere mention of cornering, the new Mitsubishi sourced car could handle its own and was still a serene ride that took America’s long straight roads with ease.

Not only could the Mitsu take a corner without flying off the road, it also could keep pace with muscle cars of the era despite having significantly less displacement. It isn’t a drag monster like namesake but in an era when the Camaro was running deep into the 17-second range, a 4-cylinder with a 18.2 wasn’t bad.

Its smaller dimensions, fewer cylinders, and comparisons with the high-horsepower Mopars of generations earlier gave Americans the impression it was cheap compact. However, in Japan it was Mitsubishi’s range topper just shy of the Debonair limousine. MMC outfitted Challengers with touches typically reserved for high-end cars, such as frameless door windows, alloy wheels, two-tone paint, and gloriously plush plaid seats. But hey, it’s still a manual transmission!

The particular specimen offered is described to be a single-owner car. The fact that it has a dealer-affixed Fergus Falls Dodge badge and is still located in Fergus Falls today backs up the claim. The seller also says it’s been “stored inside” and the fact that it’s endured nearly 40 years of Minnesota winters without turning into a pile of red dust supports that assertion.

The seller is honest about a couple of scratches and a small hole in the rear left taillight. The fact that the interior is in such good shape indicates that the 5-digit odometer’s 59,000-mile reading is accurate. Everything looks amazingly original, even down to the primitive stereo and 70s steering wheel leather.

When being compared to the  of the 60s and 70s that was its namesake, it was considered a naming travesty on par with the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross by muscle car heads. A more enlightened world view actually sees the car as one of the most well-sorted luxury coupes of the early 80s, a sort of King Charlemagne of the Malaise Ages carrying over from the 1970s. At $4,500 it’s a great buy, and we hope it goes to a good home. See the full ad on Craigslist Fargo.


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31 Responses to KIDNEY, ANYONE?: One-owner 1979 Dodge Challenger (Mitsubishi Galant Lambda)

  1. Scotty G says:

    I believe that this is a 4G32 (G32B) 1.6L engine, isn’t it? There’s a tag in the CL ad. I can’t even imagine a 1.6L in this car compared to the 2.6. I had the 2.6 in a LeBaron convertible in the mid-80s and it was a fantastic engine, even in a relatively heavy “Chrysler” (K-Car with chrome).

    This Charger seems like a screaming deal to me, in a handful of years I’ll be kicking myself for passing on it.

    • Kiran says:

      The G32B was a legendary rally engine for Mitsubishi and I happen to have one in my cordia currently pumping out 168hp and its surprisingly still N/A

  2. CLShifter says:

    Love it. These never sold as well as competitors like the Datsun 200SX. I distinctly remember seeing one in a parking lot in the late ’80s and my father saying, “They’ll never call a car Challenger again.” This was shortly after the space shuttle disaster. I guess enough time has passed though.

  3. jim simpson says:

    Does seem like a terrific deal… handsome car and a real time capsule… sure to be a hit at cars and coffee…

  4. LB1 says:

    Ben, why do you keep saying ‘Kidney anyone?’ These cars are cheap, $4500 for this. I hope no one has to sell their kidney to come up with $4500, or $2500 for the last one was it?

    Woops, this one was written by Ryan. Well, last one was written by Ben.

    But anyway, love seeing these cars still preserved!

    • Ben Hsu says:

      We’ve been using the Kidney, Anyone? heading for years to alert readers to a interesting cars for sale, so it’s just custom/habit at this point. However, one commenter did discover — don’t ask me how — that the black market rate for a kidney is about $3500. So, it still applies!

      • LB1 says:

        Whoa, that’s so shockingly low. But then I wonder why that phrase is so often used then for expensive things. But I still hope that no one sells their kidney to buy these cars. It’s not that hard to save up this kind of money.

        • Gary says:

          In Australia we have an expression “I’d give my right arm to have one” – which is of course ok if you’re right handed cause you’re saying the thing is of such high value…but if you’re left handed…

  5. Speedie says:

    I remember my brother buying a brand new Sapporo of the same vintage. It was a beautiful blue. It rode really nice but unfortunately he had a number of issues with the automatic transmission which eventually made him sell the car after only a year.

  6. Phil says:

    Known here in Australia as the Mitsubishi Chrysler Scorpion.

    • Gary says:

      Mitsubishi Scorpion or Chrysler Scorpion; they endured the cross-over period but I don’t recall Scorpions having the dual branding they were either Chrysler (early release) or Mitsubishi (later release). Some of the Galants did have dual branding though – didn’t they?

      • Tj says:

        The last model named Galant in Australia was the ’77 GD model which still had Chrysler AND Valiant badges but if you looked close there was a tri-diamond in the centre of the grille garnish (Just to make it real confusing)
        As far as I’ve seen the dual branding started with the first HE Sigma (which was a Galant in every other market) and were fully mitsu branded shortly after.
        From what I’ve read Chrysler at the time were a dumpster fire that everyone associated with them wanted to distance themselves from.

        Although it was for different reasons Datsun and Nissan were changing names too, it must have been a confusing time for consumers

  7. Kane says:

    Cool car, I have never seen one before.

    I cant beleive they actually screwed the dealership badge on the boot tho, At least thats what it looks like.

  8. Kiran says:

    Oh man that is beautiful I would buy it in an instant if I lived in America

  9. VanCura says:

    I remember my boss had one ..He used to pick me up for work in it
    .it was a nice car

  10. Melanie says:

    I am the lucky owner of an Australian-sold 2.6L auto Chrysler Scorpion in Bright Blue metallic with grey velour and vinyl trim. Bought her three years ago for a couple of grand less, in mint condition other than the usual rust in one fender and some paint fade on the roof and boot lid. Other than needing to replace the generator unit, I haven’t had a moment’s trouble or regret. Brilliant first classic car.

    • Gary says:

      These cars were polarizing in their day – they were considered by the market as either an absolute gem or just another ‘hair dresser’ car (nb I own the king of hair dresser cars – RA40 Celica, so please don’t be offended) . Time has treated the Scorpion well – although they weren’t really raced (touring cars) in the day they are considered a classic and well appreciated among the Japanese car fraternity here.

      • Melanie says:

        No offence taken! I’m often surprised that people love to comment on the 2.6 Astron motor in similar tones to how they discuss Holden motors! She gets a fair bit of love when we’re out.

  11. Randy says:

    Sucks bein’ broke… This WOULD be on it’s way to me…

    Here’s the Old Car Brochures sales brochure for reference:

  12. Denis Gribben says:

    I have a 1979 Gen 3 Mitsubishi Lambda GSR (SEA Model) same shape as the Chrysler Sapporo and Dodge. Bought new in Singapore when I lived there and then shipped to New Zealand when I returned. Genuine 86K Miles. Garaged and looked after. Standard twin carbs and extractors. Can be found on internet typing 79 Mitsubishi Lambda. Number plate JW 6449 Silver with red orange Targa top. No accidents
    Loads of extras, dash and rear window tray covered since new (No fade) seats covered since new. Doors still have covers and plastic covers in situ. All original tools and manuals.
    Right hand drive Rear wheel drive, 5 speed gearbox. Willing to sell POA

  13. Grayson says:

    I owned this car and I miss it so much. I so want to find one of these to rehab. I loved that plaid interior.

    • David Ferguson says:

      I have seven of those alloys that are on that car in mint condition. Not sure if I should sell them or keep them

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