Mitsubishi Galant E39 VR4 1988

The showdown of sports prototypes at Le Mans is a display of muscle, showcasing the budgets and engineering power of teams. Even the least knowledgeable spectators understand that a Toyota race car has almost nothing in common with a car you can buy from an official dealer in your city, although the success of the race car undoubtedly positively affects sales. Rallying is a different story, especially in the past century. After the closure of Group B, rally cars became even more similar to civilian vehicles and buyers could indeed see the roots of certain rally legends in some of these cars. If I mention Mitsubishi, you immediately think of Evo. But the Lancer was not the first gem in this discipline, and today we will talk about its predecessor – the Galant.

Debuting in 1969, the Galant was just one of the variations of another well-known Mitsubishi car – the Colt. Initially, it was a compact sedan, but over the years, it grew to mid-size proportions, gained the status of a standalone model and gave birth to a total of 9 generations, with the last one no longer enjoying its past popularity and being discontinued in 2012. The total number of cars sold exceeded 5 million, which speaks volumes about its global popularity, including in the United States. By the way, if you’ve ever wondered if the name Galant is related to the word “gallant,” yes, it is a French word that can be translated in that way, although the Japanese focused on the interpretation of “chivalrous.” And in these photographs, you see a car that is quite worthy of a titled warrior!

This is the sixth generation of the model, produced from 1987 to 1993, with one small clarification: in the best Japanese traditions, the car had several variations and some of them were discontinued only in 1994. The base sedan could not be called remarkable if it weren’t for the versions with all-wheel drive and even the 4G63(T) engine, rightfully considered one of the most legendary Japanese engines. The car turned out to be so ambitious that it caught the attention of the guys from AMG, the German tuning studio that had not yet become a part of Mercedes-Benz. In 1989, they presented their vision of the car, which was named GTi-16V. This is the only Japanese car that made it to the AMG workshop. But that’s not even the most surprising part of the story we will tell you today.

At the end of the 1980s, Mitsubishi decided to enter a new car in the WRC rally championship. Optimistic plans to build a Starion race car came to an end with the discontinuation of Group B, for which the project was designed. So, a new chassis was needed for Group A, which became the title category for the World Rally Championship. The homologation requirements of that time forced almost all sports developments to be released in the form of production cars in some way or another. For this purpose, the VR-4 model was created. It was an all-wheel-drive car with a central differential and the 4G63T engine, tuned to produce 240 horsepower and later even 280 horsepower. In addition to suspension settings, the 4WS system was responsible for the car’s handling. With the help of hydraulic mechanisms, the rear chassis with this system could skillfully follow the movements of the front wheels, albeit to a small degree. The combination of the 4WS system, permanent all-wheel drive, independent suspension on all four wheels and ABS made the Galant the first car to bring all these systems together. By the way, the E39 platform served as the basis for the famous Eclipse, which became the dream of many tuners worldwide at a certain point in time.

Externally, the car closely resembled the standard version and unlike the later Lancer Evo, did not seek to flex its muscles. The famous negative slope from the front part of the hood to the bumper is well observed in this model, although it gained fame with the 8th generation. Let’s be honest – it can be called unremarkable. But that is precisely the case when true potential is hidden behind modest design!

The interior of the car is simple yet well thought out. When the car is prepared for racing at any level, the car’s cabin is brought to a state of complete asceticism. However, it seems that the Mitsubishi designers have already considered this for you. At the same time, all controls are in their rightful places, the dashboard lines are simple and concise and the gauges, although not strikingly surreal in shape, are easy to read in any condition.
By the way, the tachometer optimistically marks up to 9,000 rpm, which quickly lets you know that this is not just a family sedan. But if you’re not too familiar with manual transmissions, there is an option with an automatic transmission, although the car is tuned for higher power with a manual.

The Galant was not Mitsubishi’s first rally car, nor was it the last. The era of large cars in rallying gradually faded as special stages became tighter. Ford replaced the large Sierra with the Escort, Subaru replaced the “forest” with the Impreza and Mitsubishi rolled out a fighter onto the battlefield that was destined to become famous – the Lancer Evolution. Thus, the era of the most gallant rally car ended, but that is by no means the end of the model’s story.

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