By on December 7, 2011

Since December 7 always reminds me of the only Mitsubishi vehicle with a strong reputation for reliability, let’s look at this Late Malaise Era Mitsu I found in a California self-service wrecking yard a few weeks back.
I’ve had an unhealthy obsession with the Cordia/Tredia recently (though the Hyundai Scoupe may have taken its place in my heart). The Cordia was part of Mitsubishi’s big move to sell cars under its own marque, rather than as badge-engineered Dodges and Plymouths, and it wasn’t exactly a success.
You have to love the Cordia’s crazy, near-incomprehensible electronic dashboard.
Why did Japanese automakers abandon the spaceship-style interiors of the early 1980s? They had character!
The 116-horsepower turbocharged engine wasn’t available for the ’83 model Cordia, so this car had only 82 horses. Since this car only weighed 2,101 pounds, it wasn’t quite as slow as the power numbers would suggest… but it was still pretty slow.
I keep thinking I’ll never see another Cordia again, but they keep trickling into the wrecking yards.

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33 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1983 Mitsubishi Cordia...”

  • avatar

    Is the nose on that green humanoid on the dash a veiled Japanese caricature of Western facial features?

    This actually seems like a decent, roomy, utilitarian car. WHy did they fail in the marketplace?

    • 0 avatar

      I found that odd, too. My ’02 Diamante and ’96 Galant (my handle’s namesake) both had that graphic on their autoclimate controls, but without the large nose. That was a Mitsu hallmark for much of the ’80-00 period. Volvo also used it, possibly before Mitsu. I always thought it was neat, even before I owned the cars with it.

      I can honestly say, as a Mitsubishi fan (even now, despite their massive downward spiral), that the Cordia/Tredia are butt-ugly. So few ’80s cars aged gracefully… Lots of trick little features on them, though.

      They rusted away around ’92 here in the rustbelt. I haven’t seen one for ages.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s not a caricature; that’s Horus. They were trying to give the impression that the car is fit for a deity.

  • avatar

    Those earlier Mitsubishis had a great reputation for performance, but a not-so-great reputation for being somewhat fragile and not protecting their occupants very well.

    • 0 avatar

      Fantastic mileage though!

    • 0 avatar

      Not unlike the other Mitsu to which this article alludes, which achieved its best-in-class performance in large part by doing away with such dead weight as self-sealing fuel tanks, cockpit armor, and effective weaponry.

      • 0 avatar

        The A6M Reisen (Zero) had very effective weaponry. The A6M2 that fought in the early part of the war had 2 20mm cannons with 100 rounds each in the wings and two 7.7mm (30 cal.) machine guns in the cowling with about a thousand rounds of ammunition. Later variants from the A6M5 onward had 20mm cannons with 125 rounds per gun, two 13.1mm machine guns (@ 50 cal.) in the wings and one in the cowling for a total of three. That model also had pilot armor, a bullet proof windscreen, self sealing fuel tanks (not as good as the American ones thought) and a fire extinguisher system.

      • 0 avatar

        As long as we’re going down the Vintage Mistu rabbit hole:

  • avatar

    It failed because it was a Mitsubishi. The “silent shaft” balance shaft in the engine would literally give you the silent shaft when it seized up.

    All Mitsu part numbers start with “MD.” The Chrysler parts counter guys joke that it means “Many Dollars.”

    • 0 avatar

      yep I had an 85 Reliant with the mitsu 2.6 10 years ago. That defect is what took it to it’s doom. I didn’t keep it long enough for the engine to self destruct, but the last 6 months I had it the clanking from the timing chain said the end was near.

  • avatar

    Does it say Alternator light on dashboard shouting or showing? I can’t figure it out. And also, where would the speed read-out be located on the dash? Is it under the alternator Post-it? It’s good that Honda didn’t incorporate all of the crazy Mitsubishi cluster ideas into the current Civic.

    Gotta love the maroon interior and the seat patched with red duct tape.

    • 0 avatar

      Ah but Ford had similar graphics on the Mustang center console. Some bikes did this too, part of a weird new way of showing the hapless owner where to look on the vehicle for a problem.

  • avatar

    I see that the “microwave beams on Barbara Streisand” display is right next to the tach where it belongs.

    Car makers today have it way wrong.

  • avatar

    I miss crazy 80’s instrument clusters!

  • avatar

    Useful economy cars can have interiors that look useful and economical. Small cars in the 1980s were still proving themselves to a skeptical American market. The look of the small cars at that time highlighted roomy practicality and puposeful shapes.

    During the 1970s, the small car mimicked previously known small cars – sporty two seaters. The Pinto and Vega copied the look found on Mustangs, Mavericks and Camaros. The Datsun B-210 and the Corolla abandoned the three box Japanese family sedan look for a look based on Detroit’s small car styling. Small cars tried to look like small two seaters during this time.

    During the 1980s, the small car look emphasized four door spaciousness and practicality. The Corolla was as square as a Lincoln Town Car, the Dodge Omni was as square as a New Yorker, the Sentra and the Renault 5 were as square as a box of tissues. Front wheel drive opened up interior space and small cars utilizing this set up caught a fever to become utilitarian boxes with room for four adults.

    The square look also copied from video games considered cutting edge in 1980. Star Wars, Pac Man or Asteroids, car interiors in cars designed for first time buyers gave a flavor of their favorite movies and toys. See that Cordia set of gages? It reflected what was considered to be new and cool; international icons and line diagrams straight from an amber computer monitor.

    Small cars were still proving themselves by 1983 as more than cheap disposable wheels. Their style reflects the message auto manufacturers felt added value to their products. Within twenty years, small cars went from cheap sporty two seater to small Cadillacs, from acceptance as a grocery getter to a replacement for the family ride.

    • 0 avatar

      So true! My 1990 Cavalier’s dash had graphics influenced by the video games you mention! Some trends die hard.

      I would argue though that small car styling of this era was really a reaction to the baroque excesses of the malaise era, and a flight to “Euro-inspired” cleanness and perceived no-nonsense efficiency. The Omni did not really echo the New Yorker and its bulging, Landau-roof style.

    • 0 avatar

      I see this dashboard and I really have to restrain myself from making “Pew Pew Pew!” noises.

  • avatar

    Wow, talk about forgotten cars!

  • avatar

    All this mitsubishi bashing makes me want to check one out. Hey the 04+ galants are still way more reliable and affordable than a 4 banger altima from 02-06 (go nissan altima if u like fried cats, stalling after cold starts, excessive oil consumption, fried 02 sensors, excessive brake wear, pinging, and other various issues). I like the 07+ Outlanders too =)

  • avatar

    Looking at that rr 3/4view I can’t help being reminded of the celica.

  • avatar

    First TTAC Junkyard Find that I’ve never seen on the road or even knew existed.

  • avatar

    I’ve always been leery of Mitsubishi reliability -ever since the first one I saw while living in Japan in the late 70’s/early 80’s. A Japanese friend had a ?Lancer? that was about a year old, and I noticed a puff of blue smoke coming from the exhaust as she drove away one day. Can’t say that reliability has gotten any better since then. I tend to agree with the “Zero-sen” assessment above.

    By the way, “The day that will live forever in infamy” is December 8th in Japan, thanks to the international date line. So, everything looks different depending on where you sit. Just sayin’.

  • avatar

    Was this the model used for the Mitsu in Cannonball Run?

  • avatar

    So what does that graphic on the first picture supposed to be about then? Airflow direction of the HVAC? Why does that need an indicator on the instrument panel? I doubt its really “microwave beams on Barbara Streisand”!

  • avatar
    Andy D

    Those earlier Mitsubishis had a great reputation for performance, but a not-so-great reputation for being somewhat fragile and not protecting their occupants very well.

    Yah, just like their war birds! arf , arf

  • avatar

    I have owned a 95 Eagle Talon (Eclipse) which had its problems but was fun. I currently own a 91 3000gt VR4 which is also fun but has problems all its own. I will own an EVO someday.

  • avatar

    I always get a kick out of the “Mitsubishi reliability” commentary here. Maybe True Delta has a raft of data to support such claims, but I’ve been driving Mitsubishis since the mid-90s and the biggest cause of poor reliability as I’ve seen it is irresponsible owners.

    Bought a brand new 97 Talon (in 1996). Drove off the lot with 7 miles on the odo. Left my possession in 2009 with over 210,000 miles on it. Every mechanical issue I experienced was due to my own shortcomings under the hood. Hell. I made it from Phoenix to Kansas City and back, through a blizzard, with a blown head gasket and worn-out struts, and STILL got better than 35mpg on the highway in that thing.

    My daily driver today is an even older, 92 Galant VR4 with over 190k on the original engine and trans. It’s been totaled by insurance companies twice. AC, CC, 4WS, ABS – everything works but the sunroof (broken clip) and the lowest HVAC fan setting. Only gets about 22mpg around town, but it’s paid off, cheap to register and insure, and very reasonable to maintain.

    Show me a dead Mitsubishi and I’ll show you an irresponsible owner who should probably be riding the bus.

  • avatar
    PJ McCombs

    I’ve always wondered about this too, since my experience with Mitsu reliability was fantastic (50K+ trouble-free miles on a 2001 Eclipse V6).

    I recall their products’ reliability being generally average or better in CR’s ratings through the ’80s and ’90s, and they’re highly regarded in Australia (where they still sell quite well).

    I’d suspect any downturn in US reliability data and/or anecdotes would correspond with their early-’00s shift towards 0-down, 0%-interest specials for people who really couldn’t afford new cars (or their upkeep)… I’d be curious if there’s any data that supports that guess.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    Native Cubans would have a coniption if they saw the cars that get junked in California.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    It’s been years since I have seen these along with it’s 4dr twin the Trendia. These actually remind me of a restyled Hyundai Excel which makes sense since Mitsubishi designed many of the earlier imported to the U.S. Hyundai’s and even sold a version of the Excel called the Precis.

  • avatar

    Hi, I have been seven years in search of this digital dashboard of the Mitsubishi Cordia you have placed on the site. Do you have the address or e-mail from that company so that I can buy?
    You can also get it and send to me. You make me very happy.
    Eef greetings

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