Junkyard Gem: 1987 Mitsubishi Mirage L Hatchback Leave a comment


Chrysler Corporation began selling Mitsubishi Colt Galants with Dodge Colt badging in North America all the way back in the 1971 model year, with many more rebadged Mitsubishis to follow in later decades. Soon after Mitsubishi developed the new front-wheel-drive Mirage for the home market in 1978, this car received Dodge Colt and Plymouth Champ badging on these shores. Sales were brisk, despite internal competition from the Simca-derived Dodge Omni/Plymouth Horizon. Starting in the 1983 model year, Mitsubishi began selling vehicles under its own badging here; at first, Americans could buy the Starion, Tredia, Cordia, and Mighty Max. For the 1985 through 1987 model years, the second-generation Mirage rolled out of North American Mitsubishi showrooms, doing sales battle with its near-identical Colt twins at the Dodge and Plymouth dealers. Here’s one of those cars, found in battered condition in a Denver self-service car graveyard.

This car didn’t get much beyond 150,000 miles during its career, but those miles must have been hard ones.

More likely, it spent long periods (maybe decades) sitting outdoors after being parked for the last time.

Presumably, the driver’s side was facing south and bore the brunt of many years of mile-high solar radiation.

While the 1985-1987 Dodge and Plymouth Colts sold in huge numbers here, this generation of Mirage didn’t catch on nearly as well with car shoppers. I hadn’t seen an early Mirage in a junkyard for many years when I found this one.

The “Big Nose Guy” icons on the HVAC controls appeared in all Mitsubishi-built cars sold here during the 1980s.

Mitsubishi was (and is) a consumer-electronics behemoth, and so the high-end factory AM/FM/cassette rig in this car bears the same nameplates as the car itself.

I couldn’t get the hood open, but this car was almost certainly powered by an ordinary 4G Orion engine. The transmission is the five-speed manual, which was easier to use than the dual-range Twin-Stick four-speed but not nearly as cool.

Starting in the 1989 model year, the Mitsubishi Mirage had to compete with three different badge-engineered siblings for sales: the Dodge Colt, the Plymouth Colt, and the Eagle Summit. On top of that, the first-generation Hyundai Excel and its Mitsubishi Precis twin were close cousins to the Mirage.

The 1980s really were the Golden Age of JDM Car Advertising.

That CYCLONE engine sure looks powerful!

It’s a bit of small-town America in your local prefecture.

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