In this vast world of classic cars, there are whole groups of cars that for whichever reason just haven’t been fully accepted yet. They are the outsiders. Probably the biggest single group of such outsiders are Japanese classics. Amazingly, still to this day, there are those who invariably shun all classics from the Land of the Rising Sun. And then, there are cars which take it a step further by being outsiders even within their already alienated group.
First of all, I have a confession! I have egoistically been trying to keep this week’s Prime Find from you for quite a while now. Frankly, I wanted it for myself and stubbornly clung to a faint hope that perhaps I could make it happen. During my extensive search for a suitable all-year-round daily classic, this particular car was constantly a top contender. I have always – since I was but a young boy with much to learn before even acquiring a driver’s license – loved the look of the Mitsubishi Starion. Being a Japanese classic, I told myself that it would obviously be reliable as a daily despite its 37 years of age. But I also knew that if something broke, sourcing spare parts could potentially become an issue. And so I stalled and never got as far as traveling down to the south of the UK to view this early Starion in the flesh. As regular readers will of course be aware of, I’ve since bought my Reliant Scimitar as a daily driver, and now I struggle justifying the purchase of a Starion, as I simply lack the storage space and the spare cash for that matter. So after much soul-searching and several complex discussions with myself, it’s now time I share this fabulous Japanese coupé with you…
The Mitsubishi Starion was launched in 1982 as a stylish 2+2 GT sports coupé with a boxy wedge design very much following the fashion of the time. Perhaps with the exception of the rare Colt Galant GTO which was available almost solely on the Japanese home market during the seventies, the Starion was Mitsubishi’s first proper attempt at a high-performance coupé. But – at least on paper – the Starion was a strong contender despite being Mitsubishi’s first. It offered excellent performance for a 2-litre car coupled with well-developed handling characteristics from the rear-wheel drive chassis with a Macpherson rear axle. Also in terms of styling, it was everything that the eighties required. Even so, the Starion always remained a bit of an outsider. Datsun/Nissan’s reknown Z-cars were of course already a living legend in this niche. Mazda’s approach with their quirky rotary engines created something truly special with the RX-7 series of sports coupés. And also Toyota managed to build up quite a dedicated following for their Supra model – especially after introducing the second-generation Supra A60 shortly before the Starion. The Starion – despite all of its virtues – never seemed to make quite the same impact, which to me seems both odd and entirely unfair.
The Starion was continuously developed throughout its eight year lifespan until production ceased in 1989. It came available with either the turbo-charged 2-litre 4G63 SOHC engine or the bigger but still force-fed 2.6-litre 4G54 SOHC engine. While the larger engine obviously offered more torque, it was the 2-litre engine which was often preferred by enthusiasts, as it produced similar horsepower while being a much more rev-happy engine making the fairly light Starion really come alive. However, the 2-litre engine was never available on the American market as it didn’t meet their emission requirements. For the same reason, it was the bigger engine which also took over on other markets towards the end of Starion production. Right from the word go in 1982, the Starion was also one of the first Japanese cars to have electronically controlled fuel injection combined with a turbo charger.
A wide array of different trim levels and mechanical specifications were offered by Mitsubishi for various markets in Europe, USA or Asia. Most of them however included both an intercooler for the turbo and not least a limited slip differential for better traction when the driver unleashed all those horses. The Starion was always quite a driver’s car – arguably more so than the much more luxurious and comfortable Supra and not least what the Z-cars had become by the eighties.
For the 1986 model year, Mitsubishi gave the Starion a thorough make-over and subsequently offered a widebody Starion alongside the regular narrowbody. The huge Quattro-aping wheel arch extensions certainly made the Starion look much more aggressive and brought the looks right up to speed with the mid and late eighties. I remember being awfully impressed when I first saw one at a car exhibition which my father took me to around 1986 or 1987. But while many enthusiasts today seem to prefer these widebody cars, I must be getting old as I personally now prefer the clean, crisp and unadorned look of the early and original narrowbody Starions. It’s just such a striking and handsome coupé…
Which is precisely the specifications of this week’s Prime Find. Not just is it a 2-litre narrowbody, but it’s even a first year of production Starion with the now so rare bonnet with the air intake. The private seller even claims to have a letter from Mitsubishi stating that this car was among the first 100 Starions delivered to the UK.
The seller further states that his Starion has only covered 96,000 miles from new and has (in his own words) an “incredible history file” including all previous MOT certificates. The factory handbooks and tools are still with the car which presents entirely original and unmolested, with even the original cassette player in place and no holes cut into the doorcards or parcel shelf. It certainly looks quite stunning in its dark blue metallic paint and light grey leather interior on these pictures which we have borrowed from the advert:
This early Starion comes freshly serviced and with a valid MOT (until May 2019). There are also four new tyres on the original alloy wheels, and the seller says that the car starts, drives and stops faultlessly. If we are to believe the advert and pictures, this really does seem to be quite an exceptional example of a narrowbody Starion. Furthermore, all of this is up for sale at £ 6,950 which currently equates to approximately Euro 8,100. I can’t help but feel that this has to be an absolute steal for such a rare and immaculate early eighties coupé. If only I had the space…
Please, someone put an end to my suffering and simply buy this Starion before I end up doing something really silly! You will find the full advert here: 1982 Mitsubishi Starion Turbo
With our Saturday instalment of Prime Find of the Week, we’re offering our services to the classic car community, by passing on our favourite classic car for sale from the week that passed. This top-tip might help a first-time-buyer to own his first classic, or it could even be the perfect motivation for a multiple-classic-car-owner to expand his garage with something different. We’ll let us inspire by anything from a cheap project to a stunning concours exotic, and hope that you will do the same.
Just remember – Any Classic is Better than No Classic! We obviously invite our readers to help prospective buyers with your views and maybe even experiences of any given model we feature. Further to that, if you stumble across a classic which you feel we ought to feature as Prime Find of the Week, then please send us a link to firstname.lastname@example.org