With the rise of the import trend, we're seeing Musclecar-era Japanese rides attain some of the same cachet as domestic iron from the same time. Funny, they didn't strike us this way at the time, but looking at them now, they're like three-quarter scale models of the Big Three's offerings. There seems to be a soft spot for early Celicas and of course, the Datsun 510 makes one hell of a half-price 2002. Somewhat overlooked, in our opinion, are the Mitsubishi models imported by Chrysler in the early 1970s, a.k.a. the Dodge Colt.
Check out more after the jump, including a really campy Dodge spot that was the only video we could dig up with two seconds of the Colt in it.
This post is dedicated to the Indianapolis Colts, winners of SuperBowl XLI, in case you haven't heard.
The Colt's domestic competitors in the '70s were the Ford Pinto and Chevrolet Vega. Being a Japanese import, a more direct comparison are the other Japanese cars of the time, like the Datsun 210 and Toyota Corolla. The early Colts were rear wheel drive affairs, with disk brakes up front, a four-speed manual and a 1.6-liter four cylinder. Mitsubishi fours are pretty stout little motors, and there's a wealth out there to choose from. Heck, you could even stuff a Starion drivetrain underneath a light little Colt and have a hell of a time boiling off tire after tire. The interior had such niceties as a tilt wheel and bucket seats. There was actually more legroom in the front seats than the Valiant/Dart offered. The Colt came in several body styles. Our favorite (as usual) is the coupe, though the wagon is certainly more practical. Might as well get the coupe for the track and the wagon for the pits and be done with it. Of course, there's also a four-door sedan, and the entire Colt range is handsome enough in that early-Japanese "Detroit via Tokyo" kinda way. They're rare enough around these parts that people would actually stop and ask you what it was, and you would likely get waved through at one of the local cruise nights.
Some things get better with time, and so it goes with cheap little cars and rustproofing. Unfortunately, the early Dodge Colts were at the wrong end of that curve. These are mainly cars you'll find in arid climes; those in the frozen reaches have largely returned to their base elements by now. Get in on the ground floor now, as the Colt offers a nice alternative to the more popular Japanese brands, yet is just as fun to clap out. With the proper wheels being driven, and a lightweight body, there's fun to be had. Not only that, until we opened our big mouths, Colts were worth nothing. We're expecting the price to rise now that the secret's out.