Park a MkIV Toyota Supra at a car show and, without a doubt, it will be bombarded with quote-happy spectators. Quips about 2JZs, overnight parts from Japan and smoking fellow motorists will fill the air like vape mist in no time at all, while social media streams will be afire with #Toyota #Supra #Supranation.
You’ll often elicit similarly positive reactions if you rock up in a Nissan Skyline or a Mazda RX-7 – although some of the comments about the latter might not be so complimentary, given the oft-prejudiced views about its Wankel engine.
IS THE MITSUBISHI 3000 GT A DAMP SQUIB?
Regardless, these Japanese icons always command respect. Turn up in a Mitsubishi GTO, however, and you won’t necessarily receive such adoration; the big coupe, alas, has always been viewed as somewhat of a damp squib. Overweight, overcomplicated, expensive and unrewarding to drive are claims often made about the high-performance Mitsubishi, which was first revealed back in October 1990.
To be fair, it’s easy to understand why many have such a mindset. For one thing, the GTO – which was dubbed the Mitsubishi 3000 GT in the UK market – clocked in at a hefty 1,735kg. The flagship twin-turbo 276bhp 3.0-litre V6 went some way to countering that bulk, mind, as did advanced technologies such as active aerodynamics, electronically adjustable suspension, all-wheel drive and four-wheel steering.
The Mitsubishi 3000 GT was unquestionably quick, and proved comfortable and capable of cornering at speed with ease, but it lacked excitement. However, this was in part the idea: it was supposed to be a relaxed and quiet GT that could cover big leaps in single, effortless bounds.
A STORY THAT COULD HAVE BEEN VERY DIFFERENT
Truth be told, the unexciting Mitsubishi wasn’t that dissimilar to the MkIV Toyota Supra – which, in standard form, was a quiet and relaxed GT that tipped the scales in excess of 1,600kg. It was only the Toyota’s prominence in the aftermarket tuning scene, spurred on in part by its role in the fabled The Fast and the Furious, which elevated it to such heady heights.
Things could have gone very differently for the hi-tech Mitsubishi. For one thing, it was originally in contention for a leading role in aforementioned The Fast and the Furious – although a Dodge Stealth, the US domestic market version of the 3000 GT, was later used in the ‘Turbo Charged Prelude’ that preceded 2 Fast 2 Furious.
ALONG CAME A MERCEDES
In any case, enthusiasm for the Mitsubishi ebbed away and it slipped into the doldrums. However, in 2016, Mercedes-Benz unveiled a new car that echoed much of the 3000 GT: the Mercedes-AMG C43 Coupe.
At a glance, there are obvious similarities. They’re both luxury coupes, for starters, and have a similar footprint. The Mercedes also weighs in at a claimed 1,735kg, matching the preceding Mitsubishi. The Mercedes, too, features a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 that sends its power to all four wheels – although, admittedly, it puts out a higher 362bhp and isn’t mounted transversely as per the 3000 GT. Other hardware, such as electronically adjustable dampers, could also be found on both.
Out on the road, the pair also rack up close numbers. Mercedes claimed a 0-62mph time of 4.7sec and a limited top speed of 155mph, while the Mitsubishi was reputed to dispatch the benchmark sprint in a not-too-far-behind 5.5sec – and it could also reach 155mph.
The Mitsubishi, although down on power and slightly slower, did have one notable enthusiast-sating advantage over the modern Mercedes: a manual transmission.
AN APPEALING USED BUY WITH SERIOUS POTENTIAL
Today, the Mitsubishi 3000 GT is perhaps a more tempting machine than it used to be. This, primarily, is because similar cars of the era all now have stratospheric prices; a clean six-speed twin-turbo UK Supra, for example, will easily set you back in the region of £30,000. That’s about the same as a 2016 C43 AMG which, unquestionably, is the more gratifying and enjoyable car to drive in standard form.
An immaculate 3000 GT, on the other hand, will only cost around £10,000 – and, if you take a gamble at an auction, you might get one for a few thousand less. More to the point, you can also quickly sort out many of the initial gripes with the Mitsubishi thanks to the help of various specialists; a few tweaks can quickly transform the nature and feel of Mitsubishi’s heavyweight coupe.
Care must be taken, though, as the complexity of the 3000 GT can frequently prove to be its downfall. Buy an unloved example, or one that’s been poorly tuned, and the cost and difficulty of sorting it out can quickly ruin the ownership experience. Buy right, buy once, and enjoy.
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