• Feb 5th 2007 at 4:36PM
  • 13
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.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      My favorite Mistubishi is the Zero......oh, wait....
      • 8 Years Ago
      I always liked the Dodge Colt.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I had five of these neat 70's Colts when they were new. they ran circles around any of the other Japanese competition.

      my first one was a red '74 GT with the optional 2 litre engine and the 3 speed Torqueflite automatic. the MSRP was $3,310 including a vinyl roof and AM radio. I also had a '75 wagon, complete with woodgrain.

      I never realized how much input Chrysler had given Mitsubushi on the styling of these cars until a trip to Australia a few years ago.

      down under, they had the same cars, except the styling was by Mitsubshi. they looked like things from a Japanese Sci-Fi movie. butt ugly.

      some real colectible Colts and derivitives:

      -Colt GT, 1973-1976
      -Colt Carousel, 1975-1976. white, blue demin vinyl roof, interior was white with blue trim, blue denim cloth inserts in seats.
      -Colt freeway cruise package, 1976-1977 4 door. larger engine, 5 speed transmission, beige velour inteior with maroon carpeting.
      -Plymouth Fire Arrow, 1979-1980. these had the wider rear track, and were real screamers with the optional 2.6 litre silent-shaft engine. a Celica of the same vintage was like driving a noisy oxcart.
      -Plymouth Sapporo/Dodge Challenger, 1978-1983.
      the first year (1978) Sapporo was quite ugly, and incorporated just about every awful styling cliche in one car: targa band, landau roof, opera lights, and wheel covers directly from a Volare Premier. inside, there was plenty of gathered crushed velour, and it seemed most every one had a red interior.

      they got their act together the next year, and tossed out the velour, targa band, opera lights, landau roof, and Volare wheel covers. the 1981-1983 models were especially handsome cars.

      these are still around if you really look. rust killed most of them, and quite a few Colts and Arrows have been turned into dragsters.

        • 8 Years Ago
        Hey, I see on your list here you have the Dodge 75-76 Carousel as a collectible? Is this so? I have one and have had her for years..Drove her up until about 3yrs ago when she started having some headlight problems and problems with the carborator. Didnt want to put the money into fixing her..put her in the shop and there she sits..She has some rust in the rear right corner by the tail light now. Has original hub caps with the running colt on it..I was under the impression it was the bi-centenial model due to the red white and blue theme? So do you have any idea what she may be worth at this time? I have kept her because she is an endearment to me..People made fun of me for keeping her, her name is Betsy! LOL...That little car went thru alot with me and always kept on going! I would appreciate any info you may have on her for me..
        Thank you!!
      • 8 Years Ago
      Could you please drop the word 'classic' from this series? How about "Future Sources of Amusement" or something would more accurately encapsulate cars like this. If you insist on 'classic' what about "Classic Examples of Mediocrity from the not-so-distant Past" instead?

      A friend of mine had a 76 Colt sedan. An easy car to drive but that was it. For a while, I was impressed that no matter how fast you were going, it was impossible to get the car to lock up when the brakes were slammed. Then, I realized that it took something like 300 feet to slow from 60 mph.

      • 8 Years Ago

      I would be interested in buying your car, if you want to sell it. please email me directly at reattadudes@aol.com

      • 8 Years Ago
      Yikes!!! I'd forgotten about the Mitsubishi built Dodge Challenger and Plymouth Sapporo! One of the ugliest cars ever.
      • 8 Years Ago

      the smaller size RWD actually came out in 1977. it was called the Colt MM, for Mileage-Maker. I traded my lime green/white interior larger-size 2 door hardtop 1976 model for a 1977 freeway cruise package Colt MM 4 door, burgundy with beige velour.

      the Colt MM was out from 1977 to 1979. the 1979 model year overlapped the introduction of the new FWD models.

      • 5 Years Ago
      I have a 1976 dodge Colt, 4 door, gold with white interior. It is in great shape and has never been winter driven. This model has great side logos and definitely turns heads.
      I am actually looking for a FM radio to retrofit this car. It came with an AM only.
      • 8 Years Ago
      For BOB,
      I just saw one of these last week on e-bay. It was a yellow 2 door with black, all vinyl interior. Had an automatic transmission and a decent (non-original) paint job. While alot of these older Asian models rusted badly, there are still some to be found in the drier areas of the U.S.

      In '76 Dodge introduced an even SMALLER RWD Colt with a 1600cc engine. Imagine a half-sized '70s Dodge Coronet sedan. Nice looking cars, but tiny inside and out. It was replaced by the first series of Dodge Colts with FWD.
      • 8 Years Ago
      The original Colt was Dodge's small companion equivalent of Plymouth's Cricket (Hillman Avenger). Now that's rare!
      • 8 Years Ago
      speaking of the RWD Colt, there was someone who created the Hemi Colt for drag racing purposes.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Gee -- I guess the Superbowl sort of provided an excuse to write this, and it looks good.
      BUT__ has anyone reading this seen one of those Mitsu Dodges lately? Not me!
      Are there actually any on the road, left from the fairly small number sold? Especially that wagon with the faux wood -- I wonder if they ever actually shipped that? No sales figures in the article.
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