I came across this rather sad looking 1994 Galant behind a friend’s apartment, where it’s remained since I first saw it a few months ago. Being that we’ve been covering the Colt this week, I figured I’d expand the Mitsubishi theme. Even when new, most buyers weren’t as enthusiastic about this car as I seem to be and I wonder exactly what I’d have told a bystander curious as to why I was taking pictures of a twenty-year-old Galant.
Debuting in mid-1993, the seventh-generation Galant replaced its extremely upright predecessor and was sold alongside the new Mirage, with which it shared a resemblance. Now 68 inches wide, it was aimed directly at the heart of the US market, and built in Normal, Illinois with a pair of 2.4 liter engines, it came ready to do battle.
With an aggressive schnoz and a bulge in the hood over the cam cover, it would seem Mitsubishi was hoping to pitch the new Galant as a somewhat sporty alternative, just as Ford and Chrysler did a year later with the Contour and Chrysler JA cars (cloud cars). The GS, the sportiest model of the range–whose twin-cam engine necessitated the 1994-only power bulge–was discontinued in 1995. The LS V6, to be equipped with a 2.5 engine shared with the Chryslers, never came, though Mitsubishi kept promising its introduction with each new model year until about 1997.
After the previous car’s modest sales, the goal of the new model was to offer a very mainstream option to buyers, with characteristic ’90s “organic” styling, a new four-wheel multilink suspension (replacing a rigid axle in the rear), minimal chrome and no turbos, four-wheel steering, adjustable shocks or all-wheel-drive. Nevertheless, the seventh-generation Galant did rather poorly in the US.
My family was one of the few who bought one of these cars, owning a very ’90s dark green Galant ES from 1994 to 1997. After my father sold his money pit of an Audi, we were a one car family for over a year before my parents began searching for a second car. They wanted a carefree family sedan and got the best deal on the Galant. Honda and Toyota dealers were arrogant; the 626, with only a 2.0 118-hp engine, was underpowered and I suppose even the Altima wasn’t being offered for as little in our part of the country. With 141 horses and 148 lb-ft of torque at a low 3,000 rpm, the “Mittsabushy,” as the salesmen called it, was close enough to the gutsy Nissan and more powerful than the other four-cylinder competition.
Then, as now, Mitsubishis were sold by somewhat unprofessional dealers, and we bought our example at Ricart in Columbus, where it was sold the alongside other less-prestigious imports Nissan, Mazda and Hyundai. We didn’t mind though, since it was one of the sportiest and better looking Japanese imports–at least until the unfortunate 1997 facelift–and absolutely blew the doors off of our ’86 Accord, which was immediately relegated to second car status.
I very rarely saw other Galants, even in those days. It seems likely that they didn’t even sell as well as their Japanese-built predecessor, even though performance was excellent for the money. While quality was not on par with Toyota, Nissan and Honda, the Mitsubishi was certainly more reliable than the Chrysler JA-cars, Hyundai Sonatas and Ford Contours with which it competed, and was equally as safe. Regardless of the price, my dad had a much better impression of his Galant than he did of competing Hondas, and always believed that Mitsubishis were unfairly underrated. I can’t say that I entirely disagree when it comes to their earlier cars, but they only fell further behind soon after our car was built.
Mitsubishi, unlike competitors, found their greatest success in their sporty coupe, but unfortunately even that has changed since the nineties. Especially with regard to its mainstream sedan, Mitsubishi has always played third fiddle to its Japanese rivals in the US, and now has fallen behind Hyundai, to whom I bet they regret selling their technology. Today’s Galant is obviously inferior to other sedans, which hasn’t helped it escape its bad reputation as the one of the most generic Japanese cars.
At twenty years old, a lot of these cars are going to the crusher, but you still see a few around. The 1994-only GS model, on the other hand, is extremely rare and would make for a very satisfying CC find.