“The desire to elevate motorsports to the realm of art.” That is what Mitsubishi says the name Ralliart is meant to evoke. For decades, it was the banner under which the Triple Diamonds raced. And even though the revived Ralliart brand is so far kind of lame, this video history of its glory days is undeniably awesome.
Hosted by two-time Dakar Rally champ Hiroshi Masuoka, the tour through Mitsubishi’s rallying history begins humbly. It all started in 1967 when the company entered a Colt 1100F, a tiny 1.1-liter hatchback, in Australia’s Southern Cross Rally and surprised even themselves when they came in 4th.
In 1972 they won the same event overall with a more substantial Galant 16L GS, marking Mitsubishi’s first international rally victory. Two years later Mitsubishi would go all-in on the world stage with their first entrée into the WRC. That same year a 1974 Lancer 1600GSR won the toughest of them all, the East African Safari Rally.
The first use of the Ralliart name arrived in 1981, on the flanks of the box-type 1981 Lancer EX2000 Turbo. Mitsubishi was developing a Starion for Group B, what would be their first 4WD rally machine, but the classification was canceled before the car could race. In 1988 Mitsubishi returned to WRC with the Galant VR-4, ushering in the age of rallying the company is most known for.
Meanwhile on the SUV front, Mitsubishi was tackling the Paris-Dakar Rally with the Pajero. It clocked a class win on its first attempt in 1983 and an overall win two years later. In 1992 Mitsubishi won its second Dakar overall victory, and the Lancer Evolution made its WRC debut the following year.
For the next decade or so, Mitsubishi fought a war on two fronts. Somehow, it managed to dominate both WRC and Dakar, winning the Drivers Championship four years in a row from 1996-99 in the former (and also capturing a Manufacturers Championship in 1998), and logging four overall wins in the latter in 1992-93 and 1997-98 before collecting an unprecedented seven consecutive championships from 2001-07.
It all came to a screeching halt after the global financial crisis of 2008. Mitsubishi hasn’t been in any position to spend money on racing since then, but in 2021 it revived the Ralliart brand as a purveyor of appearance packages and dipped a toe into actual rallying last year. It’s easy to say Mitsubishi is mining its past prestige to cynically market Ralliart accessories but the contents of the video can stir even the coldest of hearts. And maybe, just maybe, it can stir something within the dusty halls of Mitsubishi Motors as well.