Tuesday, May 11, 2010

1995 Mitsubishi 3000GT VR4 Spyder

This may very well be my favorite Japanese car ever. (Except for the Toyota 2000 GT, but my chances of owning one of those are zilch.) It's also a car that, for the most part, seems to be forgotten. Maybe it's the Mitsubishi name, maybe it's the connection to the Dodge Stealth, maybe it's that it didn't sell especially well, but when people discuss great Japanese sports cars, the 3000GT VR4 Spyder seems to get little mention, if it gets mentioned at all.

This car should be a legend. It has a 3-liter, twin turbo, 24-valve, 320 HP engine, a 6 speed transmission, AWD and 4 wheel steering. As for performance, the 3000GT VR4 hits 60 MPH in 5.5 seconds. (Some sites quote a 5.0 time.) Top speed is in the 160 MPH neighborhood.

Being a Mitsubishi, it was loaded with technology, some of it pointless. One of the coolest pieces of technology, and one that it not pointless at all, is the power-retractable metal hardtop. With the push of a button, it lifts, retracts and stores itself. This was not created by Mitsubishi, but by American Sunroof Corp (ASC) in California. Interestingly, ASC developed this roof - the first retractable hardtop since the 1950s Ford Skyliner - for a 1991 Nissan 300ZX, but Nissan wasn't interested in the design. Mitsubishi was, and had ASC create the 3000GT Spyder. (An amusing note: Heinz Prechter, the founder of ASC was arrested in 1997 for doing 110 in a 45 MPH zone in a Mitsubishi 3000GT VR4 - In court, he pleaded guilty to reckless driving. When the judge asked him why he was driving so fast, he replied "because it was a beautiful day and a beautiful car." Gotta love that attitude.)

This car is a 60,000 mile example. From what I can gather (the eBay text is a bit confusing), it is being sold by its second owner. It is, for the most part, stock. The original wheels have been replaced with some aftermarket ones and there is now a $5000.00 sound system in it.

At 15 years old, this car can still hang with most modern sports cars. It's 0-60 time is still credible today and with its AWD system it's able to stick to the road in situations where newer, better known, sports cars would be losing grip.

The 3000GT VR4 Spyder was built for just two years, 1995 and 1996. When new, they sold for over $65,000.00. It was only offered in North America. Less than 1000 were built in total.

Today they regularly sell for between $25,000.00 and $30,000.00. This one is being offered on eBay with no reserve. (The seller states in his listing that it has a $26,900.00 Buy It Now price, but there's no BIN button at the top. The listing is not well done.)

Located in Orlando, FL, click here to see the eBay listing.

6 comments:

Richard said...

Favorite Japanese car ever? That is an interesting choice. The 3000GT, as you mention, had massive amount of grip, but I have heard its handling was less than perfect. Probably down to its porker weight, these were heavy with the AWD system, the open top with the folding metal roof won't help either. Me, I'd have a Galant VR4, not as fast but just as fun, the Wagon VR4 would be ideal, but I don't think these were ever imported to the US :(

Just A Car Geek said...

Hi Richard -

Maybe "ever" was not the right word. It's right near the top, however.

The Galant VR4 is a really cool car, but I was never crazy about the styling. I believe you're right, the wagon was never brought to the US - Or at least I've never seen one.

I've read where the VR4 Spyder was actually handled better than the other 3000GTs as the weight of the top mechanism gave it a near 50/50 front to rear balance. I've never driven one.

I like the first few series of the RX7s and Z cars, but if I were to buy a Japanese sports car today, it would probably be a 3000GT VR4 Spyder. Maybe it's just the weirdness of it that attracts me!

Dave

dan said...

This summer I'm taking my black VR4 Spyder on a road trip. It may sound sacrilegious, but any awesome car sitting in the garage is only cool because you are thinking about what it's like to drive it! It's not a perfect example, but with the favorite car comment I thought maybe you would like to see one in person (if you haven't already)...depending on the timing I might be able to stop by. Where are you located?

It is definitely a porker at around 2 tons but it is clearly a sports car. It is very stable at higher speeds, and all things considered it handles fairly well. It's by no means dancing on tiptoes but you're definitely not driving grandma's buick. Compared to a VR4 galant (which I have also driven, and is a very cool car), it just feels like a completely different beast. I wouldn't doubt a lightly modified galant would get you to the finish line faster, and you might have more fun throwing it around, but 320hp is still plenty to get the spyder pig moving. With all that said, there's just something about being able to put the top down and drop the hammer on a sunny day...I don't think I'd tell the judge that though!

Just A Car Geek said...

I've seen a few, in fact my attorney had a yellow one and at one point offered to let me drive it.

The idea of possibly wrecking an attorney's car (my attorney, no less) made me pass on his offer!

I'm in Western Massachusetts. Send me an e-mail if you're going to be in the area. I'd love to see the car.

Dave

dan said...

Dave,

That's one area of the country I might not get to...but I'll let you know if I do.

Most VR4 spyders were red. There's about half as many black ones as red ones, and about half as many white ones as black ones...but the yellow ones were extremely rare! Between both years and all trim levels only 14 yellow spyders were ever made.

According to production numbers, there are also two green ones out there somewhere, but I've never even heard of anyone that has seen a green spyder.

Dan

Richard said...

I never knew about the 50/50 weight distribution with the Spyder, might not be such a bad car after all ;)

Never loved the Galant's styling either, but the engineer in me loves that the car was filled with so much advanced tech for the time, and yet it looked like it was designed with an Etch-A-Sketch...I have a thing with ugly Japanese 80's cars...I don't think there is a cure.

I am running around in a 1st gen RX7 at the moment, its my (very) poor mans Lotus, they are practically giving away RX7's on the used market.