The cars we loved.
The Mitsubishi Starion was a pioneering rear-wheel drive sports coupe made from 1982 to 1990. A version of it was sold as the Conquest at Chrysler/Dodge dealers. It was nearly identical to the Mitsubishi version, but not offered in as many variations and generally with fewer options.
What made this car stand out in the 80’s was it’s use of technology that would later become commonplace on cars sold during the 90’s and beyond. Turbocharging, multi-valve engine designs and wide low profile tires were a few of it’s hallmarks. Fitted with 4 cylinder engines ranging from 2 to 2.6L, turbo charging was added to the mix later in it’s production run, pushing horsepower close to 200. Unlike many Japanese performance cars, power was sent to the rear wheels!
Technically, the combination of explosive power and rear wheel drive sounded very much like the muscle car formula popular in America, except that no American Pony car employed so much technology. That made the Starion more than a match for most Camaros and Mustangs of the day on the straights and curves. The Starion’s real competition came from Nissan (300ZX) and Toyota (Supra). Unfortunatly for them, they had grown to become fat and bloated GT cruisers by the time the Starion reached it’s performance peak in the late 1980s.
Sales of the Starion and Conquest combined were just a drop in the bucket next to the 300ZX. For raw performance, the Starion was the enthusiast favorite, even if finding one on the street was difficult. A limited edition AWD Starion appeared for racing. Many of it’s technological innovations would later find their way into future Mitsubishi/Chrysler products. On the low end the new Talon/Eclipse/Laser twins would replace the non turbo Starion/Conquest while upper end of the market would be covered by the Supra/300ZX fighting GTO/3000GT/Stealth. The blurly and angular design used exaggerated fenders that were completely filled by what seemed like huge 16 inch alloy wheels. To see one of these on the road now is a rare sight.
p.s. You can see a silly portrayal of an early turbo version of the Starion in the film “Cannonball Run II”.