Junkyard Find: 1984 Plymouth Colt GTS Turbo

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

Turbocharging was big when the 80s began, and nobody liked turbocharging better by mid-decade than Chrysler, Mitsubishi, and Chrysler/Mitsubishi. Turbo Cordias, Turbo Omnis, Turbo K-cars, Turbo Starions and, of course, the various Chryslerized flavors of the Turbo Mitsubishi Mirage. I’d forgotten about the Plymouth-badged Turbo Colts, but then I found this low-mile example awaiting its date with The Crusher in a California self-service wrecking yard.

Yes, just 43,286 miles on the clock, which is low even by the lax standards to which we hold 80s Mitsubishi products. Broken speedometer cable, perhaps? Project car that sat for 20 years before an angry landlord or wife banished it?

Yeah, it’s got a Twin Stick!

This 1.6 liter engine made 102 horsepower when new. 102 horses might be laughable by 2012 standards (hell, even the ’12 Kia Rio has 138 horses), but this car weighed only 1,865 pounds and it was quick. It was also a torque-steering nightmare that did everything possible to shoot holes in the belief that all Japanese cars were reliable, but who cares? The ’84 VW Rabbit GTI weighed 1,950 pounds and had just 90 horsepower. Which would you have bought?


Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Davew833 Davew833 on Feb 12, 2013

    I bought a black one of these at a car auction in 1996 for less than $200, if I recall-- or maybe it was $225 after the buyer's fee. My first priority was to replace the steel wheels with some factory Dodge alloys. I drove it for a few months then sold it to a friend in need for $500. After a short time it broke down and he abandoned it on the street, moving out of state. Never completely paid me for it either. It was quick when it ran!

  • Gearhead77 Gearhead77 on Dec 05, 2013

    My folks had a non turbo with the twin stick at one point. It was brown and we didn't have it for to long. I was young enough that I didn't understand why. I believe it was an 80 and it was 1985 when we had it. Mitsubishi build quality wasn't much better when I bought my 04 Lancer Sportback new in 05. Ran well and was problem free, much better car mechanically than I ever expected. But it was fairly noisy, the seats sucked and most of the interior was very cheap. The paint was thin and swirled easily (black car didn't help). I supposed I got what I paid for more or less. It had a 19k sticker on it, I paid 13 after it sat for a year on the lot. I ran it as a courier as my own car. 77k in two years. One trip to the dealer for a faulty battery. It was totaled in a rear end collision that bent the car from the C pillar back. I was sick of it by then anyway.

  • The Oracle This thing got porky quick.
  • Kwi65728132 I'll grant that it's nicely kept but I'm not a fan of the bangle butt designs, and I know better than to buy a used BMW while living anywhere in the world other than in the fatherland where these are as common as any Honda or Toyota is anywhere else.
  • ChristianWimmer When these came out I thought they were hideous: now they’ve grown on me. This one looks pretty nice. Well-maintained, low mileage and some good-looking wheels that aren’t super fancy but not cheap-looking or boring either, they are just right.
  • Aja8888 Someday in the far away future, all cars will look the same, people will be the same color, dogs will be all mixed beyond recognition, and governments will own everything. That car looks like my son's Hyundai Tucson without badges.
  • Tassos Of course, what the hell did you expect? A SERIOUS, BEAUTIFUL car you can ACTUALLY USE AS YOUR DAILY DRIVER???............. NOOOOO, THIS IS TIM WE ARE TALKING ABOUT. SO HE FINDS SOME OBSOLETE POS WHICH IS 22 years old, .............AND HE PURPOSELY MISSES THE BEAUTIFUL MODEL, THE Classical Beauty E39 that ended in 2003. ...........So he uses his column as a WASTEBASKET once again, to throw the first year of BMWs BANGLED 5 series (as in the INFAMOUS CHRIS BANGLE WHO SCREWED UP THE DESIGN ROYALLY). ................................................ As Dr. Evil, Fake Doctor Jill Biden would scream at the top of her voice, so her senile idiot husband could hear her, "Good Job, (Tim)! You answered all the questions and ticked all the boxes!" ..... KEEP UP THE S---Y work, Tim!