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The Legendary Mitsubishi GTO Is The Perfect Cheap JDM For Gearheads – HotCars

by Nov 8, 2022Blog0 comments

The Mitsubishi GTO may be known to you as the 3000GT or even the Dodge Stealth, but it’s an awesome ’90s classic JDM for a budget buyer.
Mitsubishi Motors' GTO is not an unknown beast in the US, even though nameplate-wise, it’s a very cool budget JDM. The most badass thing about the GTO is that it was available in the US as well, as the Mitsubishi 3000GT and also the Dodge Stealth, although the latter lasted fewer years than the 3000GT.
In the ‘90s, the US faced a sedan extinction and saw the rise of SUVs and pickups, while Japan was birthing supercars. Think Toyota Supra Mk IV, Nissan Skyline GT-R, and the rotary Mazda RX-7. In the midst of them stood the Mitsubishi GTO, the heaviest and bulkiest of the lot.
It did not offer the same insane speeds and was not as much in demand as the Supra or the Skyline, and yet, thanks to Fast & Furious and Brian O’Conner, aka the late Paul Walker, the GTO rose in estimation. In the 2 Fast 2 Furious prequel, O’Conner leaves LA in a 1991 Dodge Stealth, and he later participates and wins in several races in the same car before he leaves it behind and shacks up with a 1999 Nissan Skyline GT-R R34.
You can get the Mitsubishi GTO as a JDM today, or even as a used American model, as the 3000GT or the Dodge Stealth. Either way, it makes for a perfect budget JDM.
When the Mitsubishi Starion, a near precursor to the GTO did not perform all that well, the Japanese automaker decided to pay special attention to the next offering. The end goal of the GTO was two-pronged in that it had to perform above the competition but also be cheaper, to appeal more to the buyers. To do so, they built the GTO around a massively reworked chassis of the Mitsubishi Eclipse, a more affordable sports coupe powered by a four-pot.
The result was a massively aggressive car with air dams, scoops, ducts, and plenty of curves and bulges, making it one of the most masculine cars to have come out of Japan. The car was hefty, and to make it power through its weight, Mitsubishi put in a 3.0-liter 24-valve DOHC V6 engine, either naturally aspirated or twin-turbocharged.
To sweeten the deal they added all-wheel-drive, four-wheel steering, active aero, an easily tuneable exhaust, pop-up headlights, and finally, an electronically controlled suspension.
RELATED: Here's Why The Mitsubishi 3000GT Was Ahead Of Its Time
When it comes to this particular Japanese sports car, which one should you go for? The difference, if any, lies in the engines, of course, and the model years. If you look at the Mitsubishi GTO, even the base models of the JDM came with the same four-wheel-drive system found on the more expensive trims in the US. The base trims in the 3000GT were front-wheel drive only, in a bid to keep costs down and get more buyer interest.
Of course, if you didn’t want a Mitsubishi 3000GT, you could always opt for a Detroit rebadge and go for the Dodge Stealth instead. It came with identical mechanicals, just a different badge. All models, be they the GTO, the 3000GT, or the Dodge Stealth, shipped from Japan itself, given that all assembly happened in Japan. Technically, all these models are, in fact, JDMs.
In the early 90s, the 3000GT and the Stealth sold more models than the Nissan 3000ZX, Mazda RX-7, and Toyota Supra combined. By the end of the ‘90s, sales dropped as the car became pricier (due to Japan’s bubble economy that eventually burst) and the fact that America wanted bigger vehicles overall.
RELATED: This Is What The 1994 Mitsubishi 3000GT Is Worth Today
Given the sheer number of the GTO/3000GT sold, it’s easy enough to buy the neo-classic. While there are plenty of trims to go for, the maximum interest lies with the big daddy of the range, the VR4. It bore a 3.0-liter DOHC 24-valve, twin-turbocharged, twin-inter-cooled V6 and churned out 300 horsepower and 307 lb-ft torque, to begin with, which later increased to 320 and 315, respectively.
You may have a slight fight with parts today, but that’s an issue with nearly all ‘90s icons. That said, the Mitsubishi GTO / 3000GT or the Dodge Stealth is one fast car with looks that make it the cynosure of just about every eye on the road.
It may not carry an “original” name, given that the Mitsubishi GTO borrowed its name from the ‘70s Galant GTO, which in turn borrowed the name from the Ferrari 250 GTO, raising the Italian carmaker’s ire. That said, the performance of the GTO is original, and once you get over the slightly rough gears and the heavy clutch, it will give you the speed you crave without risking a ticket.
Prices vary from a baseline of $6,000, going all the way to around $40,000 for mint condition top trims, making it the perfect budget JDM for many. There's one up for grabs on CarsandBids with no reserve.
Sources: CarFromJapan, CarsandBids
Arun Singh Pundir has been a longtime media crackerjack and worked most of his life in sales and marketing. In 2018, he officially flipped and switched sides to the editorial. He lives with his wife, two rascally sons and is a car and motorcycle nut in his free time. Not that he has too much free time. He currently writes news, features, and listicles for HotCars on anything that has any number or kind of wheels. He is also penning pop culture, lifestyle and all things rich for TheRichest. For now, he considers his Isuzu D-Max V-Cross, Suzuki Ciaz, and Royal Enfield Classic 500, the three current flames of his life. His dream is to drive around the world; even if it takes more than eighty days.