Chrysler began importing rebadged Mitsubishis to North America starting with the Colt in the 1971 model year, with more models being added as the decade progressed. By 1976, Plymouth shoppers could buy a Mitsubishi Lancer Celeste as the sporty Arrow; Plymouth Arrow and Dodge D-50 (later Ram 50) pickups, based on the Mitsubishi Forte, showed up here in 1979. So that those Dodge/Plymouth dealers would have a small personal luxury coupe to sell, the Japanese-market Galant Lambda hardtop was pressed into American service as the Dodge Challenger and Plymouth Sapporo for 1978. Sales continued through 1983, and I’ve found one of those final Sapporos in a yard south of Denver, Colorado.
These machines haven’t been terribly difficult to find in car graveyards, though I certainly saw more of them a decade ago. So far, I’ve documented this ’78 Sapporo, another ’78 Sapporo, this ’81 Challenger, this ’82 Sapporo, and this ’82 Sapporo. Mitsubishi began importing vehicles under its own badging starting in late 1982.
The 1978-1982 Challenger/Sapporo was a true hardtop, and it came stuffed with the same sort of snazzy features normally found in much pricier machinery. List price on the ’82 Sapporo was $8,043, while the MSRP of the ’82 Chrysler Cordoba hardtop started at $8,258 (about $23,330 and $23,960 today, respectively).
At that price, the Cordoba came with a 90-horsepower Slant-6 engine to drag its 3,315 pounds down the avenue (the 318-cubic-inch V8 and its 130 horses cost a well-worth-it additional 70 bucks). The Sapporo got this 2.6-liter Astron four-cylinder, rated at 105 horsepower, and it weighed a mere 2,410 pounds. That made this car respectably quick by the standards of the time.
The Astron went into so many Chrysler and Mitsubishi vehicles over the decades (including some K-cars that got big HEMI 2.6 fender badges) that junkyard shoppers often grab parts from them. Perhaps this car’s cylinder head now lives on in a Montero or Conquest.
The interior is grimy and the upholstery has become quite crunchy thanks to relentless Colorado sunshine, so I doubt much of this stuff will be sold before the car faces the cold steel jaws of The Crusher.
Mitsubishi was very proud of the MCA-JET high-swirl fuel-delivery system, which was sort of a simplified version of Honda’s CVCC rig, and applied these stickers accordingly.
Unusually for 1982, the Sapporo came with an AM/FM radio as standard equipment. When a company makes consumer electronics (not to mention fighter jets and heavy-lift rocket boosters) in addition to cars, there’s plenty of off-the-shelf audio hardware to put in those cars at a low cost.
The future is here now!
If you’re too cheap to buy winter tires for your rear-wheel-drive car, there’s always tube-sand for the trunk.
Science-fiction robot women with strangely-colored sunglasses agree: 11.9% interest is a steal for this Celica fighter.
Datsun 200SX? Forget it!
The JDM version got some seriously cool package-shelf speakers.
Yes, you could get the padded landau roof in Japan.
For links to more than 2,100 additional Junkyard Finds, including lots of Mitsubishis, please visit the Junkyard Home of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™.
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