I recently found myself admiring a beautiful Citroën SM together with an acquaintance of mine who is a devoted fan of all things Citroën. He immediately proceeded to list all the tour de force technology which he felt made the SM something special. My reply was that it’s not really that important what you put intoa car, but rather what you get outof a car. Here is another perfect example of this theory: The Mitsubishi 3000GT.
For a long time, my personal approach to cars has been that of a minimalist. “Less is more” is in my opinion the most intelligent principal within automotive development and production. In fact, many of the greatest icons within the world of classic cars are characterised by that precise simplicity in their concept. It’s not about more ingredients – just about the right ingredients.
As it is, I happen to truly admire the elegant Citroën SM, even if it’s not for the same reasons as my Citroën obsessed friend. I think I might even idolise the SM more than he does, as I haven’t owned one – yet. For that reason, I choose to use another car to illustrate my point: That it’s not about what a manufacturer puts into a car, but rather about what comes out of putting those elements into it. Let us take a closer look at the Mitsubishi 3000GT from 1990 – or 3000 GTO as it was dubbed on the Japanese market.
It’s a car we don’t see often nowadays, but it was actually introduced during a period where Japan were big on these high-tech sportscars. Honda NSX, Nissan 300ZX, Mazda RX-7, Subaru SVX and Toyota Supra were all from the same period and none of them can be regarded as anything but highly capable cars. Mitsubishi’s answer to that was technology – loads and loads of technology! With the exception of the American market which was given a simpler base model, that meant that both the European 3000GT VR4 and the Japanese 3000 GTO all had twin turbos bolted to their 24-valve V6 engines, four-wheel drive, four-wheel steering, active aerodynamics featuring automatically adjustable front and rear spoilers, electronically controlled suspension, and even adjustable exhaust modes. In short, Mitsubishi gave their top model every single gimmick which all of its competitors had combined between them.
That I even remember the somewhat obscure 3000GT today is probably largely down to the conclusion which I read in a period German car magazine back when it was a brand new model. It would have been either Sport Auto or Auto, Motor und Sport, but I no longer recall which one. But their opinion was clear as they concluded words to the effect of Mitsubishi’s escalated arms race backfiring on them. I’ve been unable to find the exact German quote, but an American magazine clearly had a similar opinion as they wrote “Great performance, but it is by no means a great performance car”.
Of course those comments targeted the Mitsubishi as a new car, but I don’t see how much will have changed today. After all, a classic car certainly doesn’t become a better car either, just by filling it to the brim with technology. It’s much more about what you can extract from a car. And that is perhaps why the Mitsubishi didn’t create much of an impact back in the early nineties, and still doesn’t do so as an upcoming youngtimer today. Only four years after the launch of the high-tech Mitsubishi, Lotus practically reinvented “Less is more” when they introduced the small, light and simple Elise – a car which was practically born to be a loved and respected classic car.
But what say our ViaRETRO readers? Is less more? And an even more interesting debate could be: Will the Mitsubishi 3000GT ever become a real classic car?