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Iconic Cars: Mitsubishi GTO/3000GT

[dropcap style=”style1″]W[/dropcap]hat does the Space Shuttle and the Mitsubishi 3000GT have in common? They’re both packed with enough features and technology to take you to the moon and back. Introduced in 1990, the Mitsubishi GTO debut in Japan, while America and Europe saw the HSX concept, developed as part of a two-part plan to replace the aging Starion platform. The GTO sought to offer drivers with a large and powerful sports car while the already popular Mitsubishi Eclipse offered a light and nimble turbocharged experience.

Due to copyrights on the name GTO, the car outside of Japan was largely known as the 3000GT, and as the name implies, the 3000GT was designed as just that, a Grand Touring platform.

Set as Mitsubishi’s flagship car, the 3000GT made no excuses, leading Mitsubishi to use the 3000GT as the test bed for new technology. These technologies included an active aerodynamics system that utilized a lowing front air dam at speed to reduce vehicle lift while a rear-adjusting spoiler added downforce.  Electronically Controlled Suspension or ECS, was used to electronically controlled suspension dampers and offered drivers with both a Sport and Touring mode. Other technologies included a noise tunable exhaust system and four wheel steering on the venerable VR-4 trim.

Ditching the rear wheel drive Starion platform and sharing architecture with the front wheel drive Eclipse, the 3000GT is a compromised platform. Additionally, the 3000GT was designed in conjunction with Chrysler as the Dodge Stealth, and uses the futuristic cab-forward styling of the HSR-II and Intrepid concepts. The car is awash with aggressive styling and seemingly endless power bulges, scoops and air dams. Because the 3000GT is shared through Chrysler, Chrysler demanded a base platform at an affordable entry price of an initial $17,000 and this meant the 3000GT platform had to be a flexible one. As a result, the 3000GT can be found in the base, SL and VR-4 variants, while base, ES, R/T, R/T Luxury, and R/T TT graced the Dodge Stealth.

All models of Stealth and 3000GT used a naturally aspirated V6, mounted transversely with front wheel drive until the top tier VR-4 and R/T TT models.  These models live up to the name, boasting twin turbochargers and a viscous coupled four-wheel drive system with limited slip differential. The VR-4 was Mitsubishi’s heavyweight in the ring with Toyota’s Supra, Nissan’s 300ZX, and Mazda’s RX7. Despite the weight, the 3000GT was a powerful competitor. The three-liter V6 pushed 300bhp, and later 320bhp through 5 and 6 speed transmissions respectively after 1994. The 1991 to 1993 VR-4’s were treated for a complimentary power upgrade through dealers to compensate with additional boost.

The 3000GT lasted through three model generations, with production lasting from 1991 to 1999.

The first generation ran up until 1994 and is distinguishable by its pop up headlamps. The first generation cars were equipped with the most features.

Second generation cars lasted from 1995 to 1998, with a mild face-lift and standard headlights. 1996 would be the last year for active aero and ECS, while 1995 was the last year for a tunable exhaust. 1995 and 1996 saw the introduction of the hard top Spyder, featuring a retractable metal roof.

1999 saw the rarest and final change to the 3000GT. While cosmetic, the car gained an entirely new attitude with the facelift. Refreshed front and rear bumpers, headlights, and rear spoiler borrowing from the Mitsubishi Evolution. Dodge Stealth models ceased production in 1996.

Powerful, advanced, brutal, the 3000GT had this in spades. While proving less popular over time to its other rivals, the 3000GT has gained a cult following while becoming a performance bargain. While dated styling might have kept it in the nineties, it is also remembered fondly from that era. Mitsubishi 3000GT: tall, brooding, cutting edge.


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