The cars we loved.
Mitsubishi developed the GTO more or less as a replacement for the Starion/Conquest. It competed with the likes of the Mazda RX-7, Nissan 300ZX and Toyota Supra. In it’s home market it competed with the Skyline GT-R. It was only called the GTO in Japan, as they felt uncomfortable using the term GTO in Western markets due to Ferrari and Pontaic’s association with the name.
Despite it’s many variations, the car was built in Japan with exotic looks that built upon the themes established by the Eclipse/Talon twins. A version of it sold for Chrysler called the Stealth. In my opinion the Stealth was the best looking variation. The 3000GT looked like it could turn into a robot at the touch of a button with it’s fins, grills and Active Aero parts. Not to mention that it made it safe to “buy American” with the Dodge name slapped on a car that could not have possible come from Chrysler engineering at the time! Well, safe for some.
In 1991 when the Dodge Stealth was chosen to be the pace car for the Indianapolis 500, the UAW protested at the ideal of a Japanese made car pacing the race. So much fuss was made that Dodge cobbled together a working prototype of the Viper to run the race. The 3000 GT/Stealth was a big car, larger than the Talon/Eclipse and much heavier. Like it’s smaller siblings, top versions offered all-wheel drive and turbocharging with power plants ranging from 160 to 276 hp. Dispite that power the top range was portly at 3,800lb!
The result was handling that felt sluggish under certain conditions and acceleration that was less than stellar. Any performance minded buyer who wanted more than exotic looks and gadgets probably considered that a turbo front wheel drive Talon/Eclipse could out perform the Stealth for less money. As time went on the cars got heavier and featured fewer gadgets. Dodge was the first to throw in the towel by canceling it’s Stealth in 95.
The 300GT continued until 2001. By that time a trick convertible was offered,customized by ASC. It offered a retractable hardtop which was opened or closed by a simple touch of a button. It was the first of such offered in the US since Ford offered it in the late 50’s. Retractable hardtops are now a common feature. It’s probably fitting that these cars are remembered for their comfort and conveniences, as they were big, sporty boulevard cruisers.