Abandoned History: Chrysler and the Colt, Captive Economical Import Time (Part I)

For in excess of 20 many years Chrysler offered different Mitsubishi offerings as rebadged captive import autos in the North American sector. For a handful of a long time, a Colt at your Chrysler-Dodge-Plymouth-Jeep-Eagle-DeSoto-AMC vendor was the exact similar a person you’d get at the Mitsubishi vendor throughout the street. Let’s just take some time and sort out the badge swapping history of Colt.

In the 1960s Japan’s overall economy was on the upswing, and the demand from customers for family members passenger cars was exploding. A regional division of Mitsubishi, Central Japan Hefty-Industries, launched its very first motor vehicle in 1960 and known as it Mitsubishi 500. Two other regional branches of the identical organization, West Japan Hefty-Industries, and East Japan Hefty-Industries experienced vehicle designs of their individual in the functions since the Fifties. All 3 were integrated with Central Japan Large-Industries into Mitsubishi Motors Company on April 22, 1970. This new unified entity, MMC, would concentrate much more specifically on generating cars and trucks and use the resources of all a few divisions. In three years’ time, MMC was capable to produce in excess of 75,000 cars and trucks a calendar year. MMC was headed by Tomio Kubo, an engineer from the company’s airplane division.

Kubo required passenger car or truck gross sales expansion, and speedy. Enter Chrysler. Kubo planned to gain market share for MMC by inking offers with larger vehicle providers in other marketplaces. Explained companies had established dealership networks that could distribute Mitsubishi cars significantly more conveniently than if the organization attempted to found its personal dealership community. In 1971, company umbrella Mitsubishi Large Industries offered Chrysler 15 % of its shares. Shortly thereafter the initially Dodge Colt was launched, and the very long and difficult association concerning Chrysler and Mitsubishi commenced.

The very first Colt was on sale by late 1970 as a 1971 design. Underneath, the Dodge Colt was a initially-generation Mitsubishi Galant. Although it was Chrysler’s leading attempt at foisting a Mitsubishi in The united states, Colt designed a large entrance. The new economic climate motor vehicle was accessible with two doors as common coupe or pillarless hardtop coupe, and with 4 doorways as sedan and wagon. Value noting, Canadian consumers received the Colt as a Dodge and as the Plymouth Cricket, even though it was exceptional to Dodge in the US. There was a Plymouth Cricket for the US current market, but that was a rebadged Hillman Avenger from England, and was marketed only from 1971 to 1973. Colts were marketed separately from other Dodge automobiles and excluded from the complete-line brochure.

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With an engine up front and driven wheels at the rear, all 1st-gen Colts utilised a 1.6-liter inline-four. Reported motor was a extensive-time period just one at Mitsubishi, in use from 1970 to 1987 throughout its maker’s cars and trucks as nicely as Eagle, Hyundai, and Mazda. In its unique eight-valve structure, electrical power ranged from 95 to 105 horses dependent on carburetor. Transmissions on offer were a a few-velocity computerized or additional normally picked 4-speed handbook. Colt experienced a unibody chassis, with a MacPherson suspension up front and a dwell axle at the rear.

The Colt was of class federalized for sale in the North American marketplace and intended Chrysler did not have to create its have financial system car or truck. That saved the corporation massive income as the other Detroit makers spent their dollars on autos like the Ford Pinto and Chevy Vega. The Colt with its Japanese origins did double obligation and competed with new Japanese compacts like the Toyota Corolla and Datsun 1200.

The first-at any time Colt was a quick-lived a person, as by 1974 Mitsubishi experienced prepared a new variation for most physique designs. At the debut of the next era, the Colt was however dependent on the initial-gen system, but coupes and sedans had all-new bodywork. The Colt wagon was considerably less liked and used its unique physique with a new entrance clip. Compared to the quad eyes of the 1st Colt, 2nd-technology examples had singular headlamps upfront with inset convert indicators. Over-all, redesigned models were being softer and rounder in appearance than their predecessors.

Base product Colts nevertheless utilised the exact same 1.6-liter motor as right before, but spendy individuals who desired additional ability opted for the 2.-liter as a substitute. The 2. designed 96 horsepower in Colt application and was normally applied in Australian sector Mitsubishis. The 2. was familiar in the Galant by way of 1987. The bigger engine was initially reserved for Colts with an automatic transmission but was made available afterwards as standard products on the manually-determined GT coupe. For Colt’s next era, the Borg-Warner transmission was swapped for a TorqueFlite from Chrysler if the Colt was outfitted with the 2. engine.  It must be noted in the early Seventies that horsepower figures assorted by publication, had been reduced for Californian cars and trucks, and transformed in 1972 when the swap was made from gross horsepower to internet. Major bumpers arrived for 1975, as massive battering rams lined in rubber replaced a a great deal less complicated chrome bumper with federally mandated rubber guards.

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The 2nd Colt lasted four design yrs just like the initially, and for its ultimate outing supplied an optional five-speed guide. The aforementioned 5-pace was normal on the sporty GT and properly-geared up Carousel trims. The GT trim was the raciest Colt giving from 1973 onward and incorporated racing stripes. GT was introduced only on Colt hardtop coupe and was supplemented by the additional luxury-oriented Carousel in 1975. Carousels had a lot more common devices, were being softer, and ended up finished in a jaunty blue and white theme.

But a new transmission wasn’t the only alter in 1977, as Mitsubishi debuted a new version of the 1.6-liter engine with Silent Shaft. The Silent Shaft motor was an optional extra on decreased-priced styles, but regular on GT and Carousel trims.  The engineering debuted on the Astron sequence of engines, very first implemented on Mitsubishi’s residence marketplace models in 1975. Silent Shaft was the initial-at any time use of twin stability shafts in any fashionable engine. Mitsubishi purchased the original patents of engineer Frederick Lanchester and sought modernization to utilize the old technological innovation to its engines. Silent Shaft was a massive offer, and Mitsubishi afterwards accredited its technologies for use by Porsche, Saab, and Fiat.

There have been some changes in advertising for Colt in the Canadian market in the course of its next era. Cricket was available for 1974 and 1975 only, and all Crickets wore the grille of the outdated Dodge Colt wagon from the US. The Colt GT saw a light identify transformation into the Cricket Method S. Just after five decades promoting the Cricket, Plymouth altered it back again into a Colt.

1977 was a extremely comprehensive yr for the Colt, as Mitsubishi began shipping over new third-generation Colts in the course of the model year that ended up in fact a various design to the types that ended up at this time on sale at Dodge dealers. Salesmen acquired to describe why just one Colt was a various size, shape, and experienced a various engine to the some others sext to it. It would be the initial product break up for Colt, but unquestionably not the past. More on that in our subsequent installment.

[Images: Chrysler]

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