May 25, 2024

Junkyard Gem: 1990 Mitsubishi Mirage Sedan

2 min read

In the early 1970s, Chrysler (lacking funds to develop a brand-new subcompact for the American market) began importing Mitsubishi Colt Galants and putting Dodge Colt badges on them. Chrysler’s relationship with Mitsubishi deepened over subsequent decades, with numerous Mitsubishis sold here with Dodge, Plymouth, Chrysler, and Eagle badging. That didn’t stop Mitsubishi Motors from selling some of the very same vehicles, though, once sales of Mitsubishi-badged cars and trucks began here in the 1983 model year. Starting in 1979, Colt badges moved over to the front-wheel-drive Mirage, with the Mirage itself appearing here for the 1985 model year. Here’s one of those cars, a rare 1990 sedan in a Denver self-service yard.

In 1990, Americans could choose between four near-identical versions of this car sold by different marques: the Mitsubishi Mirage, Dodge Colt, Plymouth Colt, and Eagle Summit. The MSRP on the ’90 Mirage sedan was $8,559 (about $15,015 in 2022 dollars) and the prices of the other three were so close as to make no real difference; customers could just shop for the best rebates and financing. Americans couldn’t get this generation of the Dodge/Plymouth Colt as a sedan, though Canadians could.

Most of the Mirages and Summits sold here were hatchbacks, but Mitsubishi and Eagle dealers probably wanted something to compete with the Civic and Corolla sedans of the era.

Mitsubishi certainly got its money’s worth out of the 4G aka Orion engine family! This is a 1.5-liter SOHC 4G15, rated at 81 horsepower. The early Hyundai Excel (and its Mitsubishi-badged twin, the Precis) got a version of this engine. If you bought the Mirage Turbo, you got a DOHC version displacing 1.6 liters and blasting out 135 horses (but it was only available here until 1989 and just as a hatchback).

That 81 horsepower was even less fun than it sounds, in this case, because the original buyer of this Mirage skipped the standard-equipment five-speed manual and paid extra for the three-speed automatic.

It has air conditioning, with the “Econo” mode that was so popular among 1980s Japanese cars.

Not quite 100,000 miles passed beneath its wheels during 32 years of service.

At some point, a set of Mercury Tracer hubcaps was slapped on the unsightly steel wheels. The lug holes don’t line up, but who’s going to notice?

Sold out of the now-defunct Ehrlich dealership in Greeley, Colorado, back when you could buy an Isuzu or a Nissan on the same lot.

You see a lot of these two stickers, one from a Longmont brewery and the other from a Boulder bagel shop, on vehicles along Colorado’s Front Range.

The most passenger space of any clown car in its class!

“Saloon” just sounds classy.

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