CC Colt Chronicles Part 2: 1974-1977 Dodge Colt (Mitsubishi Galant) – The Colt Gets Americanized

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(first posted 2/18/2014)    For 1974, the Dodge Colt got a bit of an American-style make-over. Whereas its gen1 predecessor was very clean, reflecting the Italian influence that had been so prominent in mid-late sixties Japanese design, the gen2 Colt was headed in a new direction. Japanese designers were feeling their way into a home-grown design language, but one that now undoubtedly had more American influence than European. The results were sometimes uneven, at best. But the gen2 Colt played it fairly safe, nothing too radical (like some of Nissan’s misadventures), plumping out its sides a bit in an homage to Chrysler’s “fuselage” style, and even sprouting a “semi-halo” style roof treatment.

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This GT coupe wasn’t in regular use when I shot it, but the kid who owns it said it soon would be again. It’s sporting a decidedly Detroit-ese “halo” roof, but it appears to be just paint, not actual vinyl, although that was available too. Yes, the early Broughamification of Japanese cars was under way, and the Colts bore the effects, if still fairly unobtrusively.

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The GT came standard with the larger 2.0 L “Astron” engine (optional on other models), rated at 96 (net) hp. Not bad, for the mid-seventies. And Mitsubishi’s “Silent-Shaft” balance shaft technology, the first manufacturer to take up this innovative way to tame a four cylinder’s inherent bad vibes since the technology was patented by Frederick Lanchester in 1904, appeared on some of the later cars of this generation Colt/Galant.

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The dash has an E or B-Body Mopar vibe too it. A five speed manual also came along during the run of this generation Colt.

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Maybe it’s been hanging around this Challenger for too long. For what it’s worth, the Colt does have a hemi; the Challenger does not.

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Ironically, the actual successor to this generation Colt, the Gallant Lambda, was sold in the US as a Challenger (above) after the E-body’s demise (CC here).  And it too had a hemi (as all Colts did).

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Let’s leave this coupe, which will hopefully be gracing our streets again.

Dodge colt 1974 ad

Just like the prior generation, the Colt family included a complete range of body styles, unlike the Pinto and Vega.

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I’ve seen this four-door sedan around, and finally caught it in this parking lot. If the driver of this Colt had committed a crime in it, the witnesses would do well to describe this car as anything other than an older Japanese sedan, if they even got that close. From a distance, it does mightily resemble a Corona or Datsun 710. The Universal Japanese Car, of the time.

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Same dash as the GT coupe, but the steering wheel is plainer and there’s no console. And the owner of the sedan didn’t see fit to add an angled extension to the stick shifter, as the coupe acquired along the way.

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My Encyclopedia of Import cars gives the following sales numbers for Colts in the US:  1971: 28,381;  1972: 34,057;  1973: 35,523;  1974: 42,925;  1975: 60,356;  1976: 48,542. A pretty solid seller, although not anywhere near the really big sellers of its class, like the Pinto, Vega and Corolla, which all sold well into the six figures.

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We’d have to ask the driver to prove that driving a forty year-old Colt sedan is truly a chick magnet. Or maybe his credibility is in question?

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Regardless; in its time, the Colt did what it was originally intended to do: keep Chrysler in the game, until it could develop its own proper sub-compact. That was of course the Omni-Horizon twins, which appeared in 1978. And that of course was bound to impact the Colt’s role in the Chrysler line-up. Stay tuned for Part 3 of the Colt Chronicles.