By on March 16, 2012

Mitsubishi has struggled mightily to get a solid toehold in the North American market. The Eclipse sold fairly well, but Mitsubishi’s top-of-the-line (for America; we never got the Debonair) luxury sedan never really emerged from obscurity. Here’s an example I found yesterday at a Denver self-service wrecking yard.
The interior looks quite comfortable, with luxury rivaling its Lexus, Infiniti, and Acura competition.
The ’92 Diamante LS listed at $25,503, which was $503 more than the (rear-wheel-drive) Mazda 929 S. The Lexus ES300 listed at $25,250, the Infiniti M30 was 25 grand even, and the cheapest Acura Legend was $28,000. The Diamante seemed like a lot of car for the money.
The engine in the LS made 202 horsepower, which was pretty good for an early-90s front-wheel-drive sedan.
However, Mitsubishi never established a strong reputation for build quality or reliability, and perhaps the Diamante didn’t seem as safe an investment as its rivals.

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38 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1992 Mitsubishi Diamante LS...”

  • avatar

    These always seemed like nice cars when I was younger. Understated, vaguely European looks and a (superficially) luxurious interior. You certainly don’t see many on the road, even in perpetually rust-free, import-friendly Seattle.

    A friend ran a 1993 Diamante wagon as a beater for a couple of years. I can’t recall ever seeing another one, even in the ’90s. Hers was past its “best before” date before she ever got ahold of it, but it served well as a comfortable, practical, cheap hauler even though it looked/felt like it may fall apart at any second. Great seats, too. It was junked last year when something expensive went boom – demand for Diamante parts cars is unsurprisingly nonexistent – and is probably reconstituted as a Chery or Geely by now. It was replaced by a slightly less beater-y LeBaron.

    • 0 avatar

      Always liked the looks of the Diamante wagon. Thought about buying one a couple of times but it always seemed like there were only two kinds out there: overpriced ones or scary beaters. Then I started noticing that just about every Mitsubishi I saw on the road that was more than 5 years old was burning oil.

  • avatar

    Wasn’t this an Australian engineering effort for Mitsubishi? They were very budget restricted if I recall and could not change the aerodynamic profile of the Galant. Therefore the biggest change they could make is widening the vehicle. This is essentially a wider Galant with a nicer interior.

    • 0 avatar

      It certainly was, Hitman – straight out of Adelaide, South Australia. They sold in much larger quantities over here because they were actually quite a nicely developed product, and there are still plenty of this Diamante’s brothers banging around here.

    • 0 avatar

      Not even remotely true other than the fact that these sold well in Australia. In its top trim these cars came with 320hp 305 torque and all wheel drive. Hardly galant like.
      In all its trim levels it was essentially a 3000gt with a different body not a galant. All driveline parts are interchangeable with a 3000gt of the corresponding trim level.

  • avatar

    This one still looks like it could still run, albeit a couple of dents in the body. Even the paint seems to be in OK shape too.

    I remember seeing an early 80’s Galant with all the bells and whistles and slamming it as I thought it was just too much gadgetry for it to be reliable, almost as if Mitsu put everything but the kitchen sink into that car, just for the sake of it.

    Never been much of a Mitsu fan, outside of the Colts/Mirage hatchbacks through the 80’s.

    • 0 avatar

      Your slamming is sound. It reminds me of another early 90’s Mitsu, the 3000GT VR4. I was in love with those cars. Then, I had to do a brake job on one. It was only 4 years old and almost everything was broken on it. Active aero, active exhaust, elec suspension…nothing worked. The brakes were destroyed. The chrome was already flaking off the wheels.

      They are so unreliable that a Lemons team wouldn’t even run one. Even though they are nearly worthless.

      MM should try to find one of those in the yard.

      • 0 avatar

        I should have taken pictures of the Dodge Stealth I saw a couple weeks ago. Or the one that I personally sold to the pick-your-part after its transmission self-destructed (and the body rotted, Michigan car).

      • 0 avatar

        Most VR4’s were driven into the ground by their owners. They received no maintenance, stupid mods, or body kits. They do require more maintenance then most cars but can be reliable.

        Most people get rid of the active suspension and exhaust. The moving spoiler is cool because you can wave at people. They generally the front active aero as well.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s true that the 3000GTs were driven hard, but so were Z-cars, Supras, and RX-7s. While those had their weak points, they generally took abuse better than the Mitsu. Face it – Mitsubishi reliability was a step down from the other Japanese majors. Also, the turbo 3000GT VR4s very quickly developed a reputation for eating transmissions.

      • 0 avatar

        The early all wheel drive 3000s also had a major flaw. The “transfer case” could fail under way, and in the process it would lock all the wheels. My father was driving when a 3000 was in a neighboring lane and the case locked up, sending the car into a utility pole. These were all recalled for a major repair.

  • avatar

    There will not be very many Diamante’s on the road in the near future. They will all be killed by timing belt replacements. The maintenance on these engines is expensive and you have to do the timing belt, water pump every 60k and add the oil pump at 120k for good maintenance.

    When maintenance costs more than the value of the car it will just get scrapped. I wouldn’t be surprised if this car suffered that fate.

  • avatar
    Sammy B

    Just this morning I saw a Diamante Wagon (relatively same dark color as this car). It’s been ages since I saw one of those and this one looked to be in very good shape (no rust, bangs, scrapes, etc).

    I must say it was handsome.

    Too bad the 2nd gen Diamante (sedan only in the US) got rather homely…..

  • avatar

    I liked these when they came out. Mitsubishi emulated the 4-door pillarless hardtop styling rather well with frameless glass and a thin-on-the-outside B pillar.

    I don’t think they sold all that well, as Nissan, Honda and Toyota had the lion’s share of the import market. Still a nice-looking car. Did they come in any other color than silver or gray?

  • avatar

    One of the partners that owned the company I worked for through most of college traded in his E30 BMW for one of these when they first came out. I was shocked. It couldn’t have been less like an E30, even with the blatant attempt at a BMW schnoz. It was packed with gadgets, relatively cramped for its size and weight, had indifferent road manners, and was gaudily plush. Sort of like today’s BWMs then.

  • avatar
    I've got a Jaaaaag

    On my friends had the wagon version of this in college, we called it the Dyno-Mighty. He caught crap for driving a wagon but we always took it on road trips.

  • avatar

    My parents had a 1985 Galant. It was an excellent car. One unique feature it had was adjustable rear seat. It was totaled but we really enjoyed it while we had it.

  • avatar

    I owned a Diamante for about 3 weeks in 2000. I think it was a late 90s. Loaded, bought it from my father-in-law when my son was born since both the wife and I had two door cars (mine a ’94 3000GT coincidently). Driving it one afternoon – 4 lane highway and I’m in the 3rd lane – guy bounces off the guardrail and comes back across the road at 90 degree angle. I’m the lucky winner. T-boned at 60mph, pushed across the left lane into the guardrail then the car starts spinning nose and then tail into the rail until I come to rest back in the lane I started in. Passenger would have been crushed. Car was mangled. Body guy later told me “there’s not one usuable part left on this car” – couldn’t even get my CDs to eject. I got a bump on the head, a little blood, but walked away.

    Best part was the cop – “So what’s your story?” I said, “I don’t have a story. I was driving 55 in the third lane…[interrupt by cop – 55? not 60 or 65?]…no sir, 55 in the 3rd lane and that guy in the Aurora came off the guardrail at a completely inappropriate angle given the flow of traffic and t-boned me and made THAT (pointing to what used to be a car) happen!
    COP: He says you bumped him from behind and sent him out of control into the guardrail.
    Now I’m fuming, adrenaline pumped and terrified that I almost just died with Little River Band on the radio (it was my wife’s CD, really).
    ME:Let’s think about it. We are traveling 55mph, I bump him from behind, he crosses three lanes, hits the guardrail, scrubs off speed, comes BACK across 3 lanes and I’m still there for him to hit me smack in the middle of the car.
    No further questions (I think it was the use of the phrase “scrubs off speed” that did it.
    Paid about $8k for the car, got $13k from insurance.
    Good times. I’d do it to another Mitsubishi in a minute for that kind of return.

    Sorry for the long post

    • 0 avatar

      Not at all, my more twisted side enjoys hearing a good crash story. Brought back fond memories of my accident reconstruction course from a few years ago and not-so-fond memories of my own encounter with a suicidal wrong way driver on the freeway a few years before that.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Remember renting one many years ago to travel from Miami to NY and back and there was nothing in it to make me want to go buy one of them at all. Ho-hum is the best I can use to describe it.

  • avatar

    I had a Mighty Max pickup, still had a carburetor and it was perfectly reliable. The timing belt broke at 65000 miles but I should of replaced it at 60000 like they recommended. Of course it didn’t have any electronics so maybe that was why it was reliable.

  • avatar

    Always kind of liked this car until one of the biggest d-bags I ever worked with was driving one. The ONLY thing this guy ever really liked is what he saw when he looked in the mirror. LSS – he racks up the car in a low-speed head-on collision with airbags out. He has to walk around for about a month with 2 huge black eyes. It must have been like holding his breath for that long. Thank you NHTSA! Thank you Mitsubishi!

  • avatar

    Was Mitsubishi’s dealers one step above buy here, pay here lots 20 years ago, as they are now? I don’t see that helping the Diamante, especially since most of the competition were using upmarket brands, and Lexus in particular focused on the dealer experience.

  • avatar

    I worked at a Mitsu dealer when these were new. Seemed like nice cars, but yes the timing belt HAD to be changed on time, if not earlier. Most people had no clue about that. I really liked a wagon for my mom, but she waited and got a V70 instead. It’s still running strong.

    I liked doing dealer prep the best, picking up the cars from the drop off lot and driving them up to the dealer a few miles away.

    The 3000s were really nice, I always preferred the base model with the 5 speed over the VR4, but they were nice cars when new. Of course, the Eclipses were really nice, most of them.

    Even the Monteros were cool in a unique way, but then they went all Pontiac cladding and bloated. Oh well. Fun times

    • 0 avatar

      I loved my 01 Montero Sport. I drove it to 85000 miles and then traded it. The only issue it had, was an incurable vibration at 58-60 mph and the looming $1500 timing belt/water pump requirement. Other than that, I still wonder if I screwed up by trading it in. I saw it once on the road, after I traded, and I remember really missing it.

      I wish Mitsu would do better here in the states. But I really think they abandoned what made them good. They fattened the Eclipse and abandoned a huge fan base. Then they replaced their hard core SUV’s with these ugly car based POS’s.

  • avatar

    Mitsu is a great deal like a replacement AMC. Every so often they’d have a really great car like the Galant VR4 (AMC Eagle) or the 3000 GT (AMX, all generations) or 1g Eclipse (Hornet SC360)and then it’s back to obscurity. In the U.S. at least. The Diamante was a bit like the Rebel “Machine”. Good but not good enough.

    There has to be an “also ran” in every arena.

  • avatar

    I think the Australian-made Diamante was called the Magna or Sigma in its Down Under home market.

    They were at one time one of the best selling models in Oz. Unfortunately, I heard that Mitsu Motors stopped manufacturing cars in Australia, it’s now just an importer.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Mitsubishi is the Japanese version of Daewoo, trying to do too many things and none too well, Mitsu TV sets were near the top many moons ago and they slipped into mediocrity to match their cars.

    • 0 avatar

      Well, in Southeast Asia Mitsubishi Motors has pretty good market share. Film star Jackie Chan has raced their cars (the Ralliart line – similar to Nissan’s NISMO), endorsed them and featured them in a number of his movies.

  • avatar

    We drove a 1997 Diamante from new till we traded it in for the smart ForTwo cabriolet in 2008.

    Car was a bit of a land yacht …. the suspension was so soft! For an import, it was the closest you could get to a U.S. car setting, I think. 3.5L engine. Fake wood. Very reliable. Ripoff maintenance at the dealer. Made in Australia, though.

  • avatar

    In Europe it was called Mitsubishi Sigma competing against Mazda 929 and Honda Legend. All three were kind of fake luxury.

  • avatar

    My personal Mitsubishi auto experience is so different from what’s been written by most here,I possibly could be writing this from an alternate universe!
    I had an 89 Galant,with a five speed,and I found the car to be reliable and fun to drive.We put 170k miles on it with only general,required engine maintenance.
    Two years ago I purchased another 89 Galant from an elderly neighbor, with only 90k on it,and my brother uses it as a daily driver with no problems so far.
    In 1998,I bought a used Diamante wagon,with 135k miles on it,and it was a great road car,and would cruise at 75 mph,all day,no problem.We were sorry to see it go but we needed a van.
    I now have a 92 Diamante,with a SOHC,3 liter,100k miles on the clock,and it runs fine,and has a great ride.

  • avatar

    I just bought a new Ralliart, for me it is a blast around town. Only 300 miles on it so far though.

  • avatar

    Just thought I’d throw in my $.02 worth. I came across this site because I’m trying to decide whether or not to replace the tranny in my ’92 Diamante – that would be the one with 335,000 miles on it. Yeah, I’ve had it since it was new, second engine and tranny, replaced a bunch of other stuff that would wear out in that many miles, brakes, suspension, etc. I like the car a lot, for all the reasons already said – power (much speed!), comfort, reliability, decent mileage. So if you’re considering one of these old beasts, I would encourage it just from my own experience. Good luck.

  • avatar

    Look for a neutral safety switch from this 92 LS model

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