The Mitsubishi Galant is an automobile manufactured by Mitsubishi Motors since 1969. The name was derived from the Frenchword galant, meaning "chivalrous". There have been nine distinct generations, and cumulative sales now exceed five million. It began as a compact sedan, but over the course of its life has evolved into a larger mid-size car. Initial production was based only in Japan, but since 1994 the American market has been served by vehicles assembled at the former Diamond-Star Motors (DSM) facility in Normal, Illinois.
The first generation of the car, initially known as the Colt Galant, was released in December 1969. The design was dubbed "Dynawedge" by Mitsubishi, referring to the influence of aerodynamics on the silhouette. Three models were available, powered by the new 'Saturn' engine in 1.3 (AI model) or 1.5 L (AII and AIII) configurations. 1.4 and 1.6 litre versions (14L and 16L) replaced these in September 1971, and a larger 1.7 followed in January 1973. Initially only available as a four-door sedan, a five-door estate and two-door hardtop variant were added in 1970, the hardtop offering the unique stylistic feature of being the first Japanese production passenger car with full side windows and no side pillars. It became Mitsubishi's first car to be sold in the United States in 1971 when the Chrysler Corporation, the company's new partner and stakeholder, began importing the car as the Dodge Colt. It was also produced by Chrysler Australia and sold alongside the larger Chrysler Valiant models as the Chrysler Valiant Galant.
From 1970, a fastback coupé model was developed, the Galant GTO. Fashioned after contemporary American muscle cars, the hardtop GTO was available with a choice of two "Saturn" engines and the 2-litre Astron 80, and was available until 1975. The nameplate was sufficiently highly regarded in Japan for it to be resurrected for the 1990 Mitsubishi GTO coupé.
A second, more compact coupé was introduced on a chassis shortened by 12 cm in 1971, the Galant FTO. Powered by the 4G41 1.4 L engine, it too would leave a legacy for the company to return to in the 1990s with the >Mitsubishi FTO.
The second generation Galant was more widely exported as Mitsubishi's ambitions grew. It was again sold by Chrysler in many different guises; as the Dodge Colt in the United States, as the Plymouth Colt and Plymouth Cricket in Canada (from 1974), as the Chrysler Valiant Galant and (from 1976) as the Chrysler Galant in Australia, and in Europe as the Colt Galant.
The coupe, now with an 1,850 cc engine was again assembled in New Zealand by Todd Motors at Porirua. The sedan was not offered as Todd was planning to assemble the larger Galant Sigma sedan and wagon range from late 1977 and was still also importing the British Avenger and Hunter models.
This new Galant model was more curvaceous, influenced by contemporary "coke-bottle" styling, and featured a range of larger 'Astron' engines developing up to 125 PS to complement the 'Saturn' units. During the second generation, the first Astron 80 engines were introduced in some markets using Mitsubishi's newly developed "Silent Shaft" balance shaft technology for reduced vibration and noise.
The third-generation of the car was introduced in 1976, and was known as Galant Σ (Sigma). In many export markets the car was simply known as the Galant. At that time, the Dodge Colt in America was actually a Mitsubishi Lancer, not the Galant anymore, but nonetheless the Galant Wagon variant was sold with the Dodge Colt label in the US and Canada. In Australia, where the car was made locally at Chrysler's Clovelly Park plant, it was known as the Chrysler Sigma and, after the buyout of Chrysler Australia by Mitsubishi, as the Mitsubishi Sigma. Australian content was quite high and included a locally-made 2.6-litre 'Astron' four in place of the 1.6, 1.85 and two-litre engines used in other export markets.
A new coupé (two door) was introduced in 1976 to replace the Galant GTO. It was known in Japan as the Galant Λ (Lambda). The coupe was sold in the United States between 1978 and 1980 as the Dodge Challenger and Plymouth Sapporo.
Mitsubishi introduced the MCA-Jet engine for Japan and other emissions-controlled markets with its latest Galant. This incorporated the "Jet Valve", a secondary intake valve which improved emissions without necessitating the need for a completely redesigned cylinder head. In 1978, Mitsubishi in Japan established a dedicated dealership sales channel called (Japanese) to sell the Galant and other selected vehicles.
Mitsubishi's fourth iteration of the Galant Σ/Eterna Σ debuted many new innovations for Mitsubishi. Their new 'Sirius' engine was offered in a turbocharged form for performance enthusiasts in some markets, while for economy, an 'Astron' 4D55, the first diesel engine in a Japanese passenger car, was also offered. A new electronic fuel injection system was introduced on some versions of the gasoline Astron engine. The car was sold as the Mitsubishi Galant in most export markets, although in Australia it was known as the Mitsubishi Sigma.
For the second generation in a row Mitsubishi could claim to be building an award-winning car, as this was chosen as Car of the Year in New Zealand in 1981. The cars sold there were again locally assembled with 1.6 and two-litre engines, and a choice of transmissions and trim.
From 1982 to 1983, some of the Australian Sigmas, which had the carried-over 2.6-litre, locally made engine, were exported to the United Kingdom with the Lonsdale badge, circumventing the voluntary import quota restrictions adopted by Japanese manufacturers. However the car was unsuccessful, and for 1983 and 1984 it carried Mitsubishi Sigma badges in the UK before imports were discontinued.
The wagon version was facelifted, although from firewall back the vehicle remained the same. Production of the wagon version continued in Australia until 1987 when it was replaced by the new Magna.
The two door coupé was also redesigned for 1980 and was sold through 1983. While continuing with the Galant Λ/Eterna Λ label for the domestic Japanese market, the fourth generation was known as the Mitsubishi Scorpion in Australia, and the Dodge Challenger and Plymouth Sapporo in the United States.
The fourth generation sedan and coupé were both slightly larger than the third generation cars. Additional emphasis was given to ergonomics, and safety. Shoulder room, leg room, and head space were all increased, and the trunk was slightly enlarged for more luggage capacity. The interior was made quieter with additional carpeting and other acoustic dampening materials and a double-thickness front bulkhead.
A fifth-generation model shifted to front-wheel drive for 1983 as a four-door sedan and hardtop (with different styling). This formed the basis of the widened (by 4 inches/100mm) Mitsubishi Magna in Australia for 1985, the same year in which Mitsubishi won Bild am Sonntag's Das Goldene Lenkrad (Golden Steering Wheel) award in Germany for the Galant and Wheels Car of the Year for the Magna. The station wagon was replaced by the Mitsubishi Chariot. The Galant was the third Japenese car to adopt four-wheel anti-lock brakes, using Bosch's ABS system.
Export trim levels were often engine-specific, depending on the market: GL models were offered with either 1.6-litre or 1.8-litre engines, GLS models (GLX in some markets) had 2.0-litre engines (badged 2000 GLS) and Diesel versions had a 1.8-litre 4D65 Sirius turbodiesel engine. The diesel model did not have a trim level, it was simply the 1800 TD.
In the Japanese market there was also a parallell "Eterna" lineup with very minor differences in appearance and equipment. Equipment levels in Japan had more interesting names, ranging from the LS and LG via Super Saloon, Super Touring, Super Exceed, GSR-X, up to the most luxurious Royal. The top models for Japan (the "Super Exceed" sedan or "VR" hardtop) were powered by the 200 PS (147 kW) (JIS gross, later only 170 PS were claimed) turbocharged and intercooled "Sirius Dash 3/2 valve" engine. This engine switched between two and three valves per cylinder to combine high top-end power with low-end drivability as well being economical in operation.
This generation was largely replaced in 1988 by the sixth generation Galant (see below). The car continued to be produced in Australia however, as the TM-series, and the hardtop range continued in production until 1990 when it was replaced by the Sigma. However, the taxi-spec sedan fitted with a 1.8-litre LPG engine, continued in production for Japanese commercial use until December 1999 when Mitsubishi abandoned the taxi market.
In 1987 the same platform was used for a sixth-generation model which adopted taller, rounded styling. This generation won the Car of the Year Japan award in 1987 and the GS model became Motor Trend's Import Car of the Year in 1989. This Galant began American sales in 1989 side by side with the Sigma.
The Galant range underwent a minor facelift in 1991, with new grilles and other modifications. Also in 1991, Mitsubishi Motors Company completed a new assembly facility at Barcelona, Venezuela, with the Galant being one of the first models produced. It was sold there until 1994 under the ZX, MF, MS and MX names, which identified the various levels of equipment and transmission.
The Sigma designation disappeared with the 1990 model. A new hardtop liftback model was added in 1988, called the Japanese Mitsubishi Eterna. This generation Galant was also sold in Canada as the Dodge 2000GTX and Eagle 2000GTX. The five-door liftback version was never offered in North America, where buyers prefer traditional sedans. Sales ended in 1993.
A limited edition based on the GTi-16v model was introduced in 1989, modified by German tuning company AMG (now owned by Mercedes-Benz), with mildly uprated engine (170 PS/125 kW; 168 hp) and unique bodykit, alloy wheels, and full leather interior.
The sixth generation was also the first to see the introduction of the VR-4 variant, which was the basis for Mitsubishi's participation in the 1988–1992 World Rally Championships. The Galant's 4G63 two litre DOHC turbocharged engine and 4WD transmission was later adopted for the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution with little modification, and would remain in production for fifteen years.