The cars we loved.
The Galant was Mitsubishi’s homely looking small sedan, sold in many markets under varied names. In an effort to boost it’s image Mitsubishi entered heavily modified cars like the Starion and Lancer in Group B style racing during the 70’s and 80’s. After some mishaps, the company decided to enter a new class of racing called Group B that was based on production cars. The Galant VR-4 was the result. VR meaning viscous-realtime and 4 describing the number of powered wheels. By the time of it’s introduction in 1987, the Galant had grown into a compact mid-sized car, although it was still small and somewhat cramped for four adults. Group A racing regulations that required a turbocharged engine with a four wheel drive transmission be used in the race and production car. To meet the required 5,000 unit sales, the car was available in multiple markets worldwide. 3,000 cars were was sold in the U.S. market from 1991 to 1992.
Mitsubishi had been known for it’s quirky cars that were packed with technology (sometimes excessive). The VR-4 was no different. It’s turbocharged intercooled 2.0 L DOHC 16v inline 4 cylinder engine produced as much as 195hp. It’s racing derived suspension was a conventional MacPherson (front) and double whishbones (back) setup with 15in wheels and 60 series tires. The quirkiness came with it’s four-wheel steering, that worked in varying degrees until about 45 mph. The car was offered with 4 speed automatic or five speed manual transmission.
Even with it’s racing inspired mechanicals, it was a comfortable highway cruiser with all the options expected in a premium car like power sunroof, power windows and locks, A/C and stereo with CD player and graphic equalizer.
The car was liked by the press, and managed to be popular with consumers, if they were able to find one at their local Mitsubishi dealer. The VR-4 eventually became the basis for several small sporty coupes being developed jointly by Mitsubishi and Chrysler. As the sixth generation of Galant gave way to a somewhat larger car, the new model had none of the sporting options of the VR-4. In fact, Mitsubish made nothing close to the VR-4 option available on the Galant until 2007 when the Ralliart appearance option was available. The true successor to the sixth generation VR-4 continued, but not in America. The all wheel drive turbo banner went to the Lancer, a smaller car that had become Mitsubishi’s rally race star and performance leader in the wake of the 3000GT’s absence and the general lameness of the fourth generation Eclipse.