By on October 19, 2015

15 - 1984 Mitsubishi Starion Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

Many of us laugh at the Starion now, but it was considered genuinely badass by me and my high-school peers back in 1983 or 1984. It looked fast and mean and had the magical-in-the-1980s word “TURBO” on every possible surface.

Of course, it was also a flaky, breakdown-prone money pit, but it took a few years for that to become clear to everyone. Still, Starions show up in self-service wrecking yards to this day. Here’s a battered ’84 that I saw in the San Francisco Bay Area a while back.
03 - 1984 Mitsubishi Starion Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

It’s not enough to have TURBO badges on the outside of the car. You need TURBO seatbelts as well! If ever a car screamed for the legendary 2″ screen black-and-white in-dash TV, it was the Starion.

05 - 1984 Mitsubishi Starion Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

Mitsubishi was all about the futuristic technology back then. Thermostat-based HVAC systems were found in hyper-expensive Mercedes-Benzes and the occasional Detroit luxury car (where this feature didn’t work so well).

06 - 1984 Mitsubishi Starion Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

The 2.6 liter Astron four-cylinder engine went in many Mitsubishi and Chrysler machines during the 1970s and 1980s. In fact, you could get a Chrysler K-car with this engine and “Hemi 2.6” badges.

Wailing guitars, turbo whoosh, a magical princess, and Super Potential!

In New Jersey, the Starion was advertised with scenes from “Cannonball Run II”, and the “turbo seats” get a mention.

Mitsubishi brings The Turbo Age down to earth!

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37 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1984 Mitsubishi Starion LE...”

  • avatar

    Is that B Pillar vent functional ? .

    Interesting styling back then .


  • avatar

    Mitsubishi was the hands-down industry leader for awkward IP translations back in the ’80s. Weren’t there any native English speakers willing to raise a question about the “Face” button?

    • 0 avatar

      ’80s Janglish is a hoot and all but what’s so wrong with Face when it’s paired with the Foot button with Bi-level in between? The meaning is instantly obvious and charmingly direct because when you’re suffering jungle-rot weather the first thing you want to blast with cold air is your Face.

      All your Face are be cooled by us!

      • 0 avatar

        I immediately think of the Automatic Makeup Applicator that Homer made out of a shotgun.

        But, viewing this through the lens of the mid-80s, maybe it worked. If you’re an ancient ancestor to the modern Bro, cruising in your Starion with your tiger-striped Jams and a Brian Bosworth haircut, there probably wasn’t anything you wanted to say to the world more than “Face!”

    • 0 avatar

      I would expect nothing less from the company that brought us the Mighty Max

    • 0 avatar

      Nobody could ever determine if “Starion” was supposed to be the name of the car! Their translators weren’t the best.

      This is better than the picture of a person on the Cordia’s digital dash, at least….

      • 0 avatar

        There was a Mitsubishi dealer in my small town so there were lots of them around. My mother had a Colt, and my granny had a Lancer so there was definitely a horse theme going on with their names. I can only assume that it should have been called Stallion and the name got Japanglicised

  • avatar

    It’s what I wanted my 1978 Plymouth Arrow GT to grow up to be!

  • avatar

    We got a black MY86 of these in 2004, and while Jason (five year my senior) seemed to have creamed his pants at the sight of it, my reaction was what the hell is that?

    • 0 avatar

      The ’86-89 wide bodies are the hot ticket for these. I actually think they aged pretty well styling wise, beyond those ridiculous flip up headlights, which scream the 80s.

  • avatar

    Did they really put the pressurized radiator cap right there on the thermostat housing, or is it just resting there? I mean, I guess that’s one way to eliminate a bleed screw, but it looks really awkward!

  • avatar
    Clueless Economist

    The Dodge Conquest was a cleaner design. And the later Conquests with the 944 treatment were especially well done.

  • avatar

    Fuel injected (dual), turbocharged, intercooled, RWD w/ LSD, twin balance shafts, electronically controlled suspension, wide-body with a staggard setup = very cool 80’s car!

    I am biased but I did prefer it over the Japanese competitors; Impulse Turbo (I owned an ’87), the Z, the Supra, & the RX-7.

    If I recall correctly, horsepower was rated at 190 w/ 230 ft-lbs.

    The Starion / Conquest was very stout with the exception of one fatal flaw. Mitsubishi installed a “jet valve” in the combustion chamber, and through thermal expansion, the head would be prone to failure. You could eliminate the jets but it is labor intensive.

    I’ve swapped a 6-bolt 4G63 in one of these, it does surprisingly well in the corners and ran a mid-11 with modest mods on pump. Love it. It’s the engine the Chrysler Conquest should have came with from the factory!

  • avatar

    “Thermostat-based HVAC systems were found in hyper-expensive Mercedes-Benzes and the occasional Detroit luxury car (where this feature didn’t work so well).”

    Worked fine in my mother’s 1966 Pontiac Catalina.

    • 0 avatar

      @ turf3 – As it did in various 1980s Cadillacs I rode in. Asia and Europe have upped their game over the course of the past three decades, but HVAC is something that Detroit unequivocally did better than they for many years. (I’m not a foreign car basher, either. Of the three vehicles I drive most frequently, one is a American and two are Japanese; I like all three.)

      Edit: Did the Catalina have automatic temperature control? I would have guessed that only Cadillacs, Lincolns, and Imperials had that in ’66. Maybe certain Buicks and Chryslers too.

      • 0 avatar

        I don’t know whether it would be considered “automatic temp. control”. You probably had to choose heat, vent, or A/C, and then it would try to hold the temp. I remember thinking it was a lot different than the Chevy station wagon (’74) that just had a slider that controlled the hot air bleed door via cables.

        That Pontiac was the first car in our family with A/C. I remember the day my mom picked it up, then she went to pick me up from day care and someone ran into it in the parking lot and put a silver dollar size dent in the rear. On the first day of ownership.

        Truthfully, I don’t think the current heat/AC systems really keep you any more comfortable than the old Chevy system with the cables. Interior temp. changes so slowly you don’t actually need a complex control system. It’s like the “smart house” that replaces a couple of $30 thermostats with a bunch of consumer-grade software. If you are hot, get off your lazy butt and go turn the thermostat down! Same in the car. You don’t even have to get up out of your chair, it’s right there. I would rather they put all the time and money into making the vehicle more reliable and using better materials in its construction.

        • 0 avatar

          “It’s like the “smart house” that replaces a couple of $30 thermostats with a bunch of consumer-grade software. If you are hot, get off your lazy butt and go turn the thermostat down!”

          Two things. An Smart House automatic climate control is something you can adjust when you are not at home. That way you can regulate the temperature so you ain’t wasting money on HVAC when you ain’t there.

          The other is obvious. The new generation of ‘Murican is that lazy. We now possess the technology to remove myself from the ponderous burden of having to walk to the refrigerator from my couch. Not going to get up to set something as inane as temperature, unless my $3k gaming computer is over-heating.

  • avatar

    This is the car the Mustang SVO should have been. The SVO was fairly decent in it’s own right, but the Starion blew most all of the other turbo sporty coupes out of the water.

    I really liked Mitsubishis back at that time, they seemed very advanced. But as time showed us, some of the details weren’t totally worked out with some less than desirable results.

    It would still be cool to have one of these, though.

    • 0 avatar

      Don’t you mean the SVO Mustang was the car the Starion should’ve been? The SVO was gone by the time the Starion/Conquest got its act together, including intercooler, widebody, 8 and 9 inch wide wheels, sequential EFI and adjustable struts.

      The last examples are the ones you want of either, but the SVO had the intercooler and KONIs from the start and standard. No automatic SVO, btw. You’ll have a blast with either cars. But the early Starions were just OK.

  • avatar

    I had a Chrysler Conquest Tsi Turbo….silver with burgundy interior. Very very fast! Unfortunately, I fell asleep at the wheel one night, and totaled it. It had the 944 fender blisters, and wing, etc. Very cool!
    If only I hadn’t been coming down hard after partying on speeed, I still might have it. LOL. I should have just said NO! LOL
    On the plus side…I got a 5.0 Camaro RS to replace it.

    • 0 avatar

      Another great story from cra… er, uhm, nevermind.

      • 0 avatar

        Crack is NOT methamphetamine. Speed is methamphetamine. FYI…Some of us did more than sit around watching “Star Trek” and sit around eating McD’s all day…in our 20’s. Whenever I totalled a car, I ALWAYS got a new one…via insurance, or Mommy and Daddy. Sorry that bumms you!
        Those were my days of youth. Somebody had to have fun!

        Now I can’t imagine partying like that. It’s tough getting old.

        BTW Thanks for ALMOST saving your 2 cents. Someday you’ll be able to buy that Double Cheeseburger you’ve been lusting over. Yuk!

        • 0 avatar

          The unfinished word was “crabspirits”, a frequent poster who also writes stories about cars with trashy owners.

          That was clearly a poor decision to not have another bump for the road. But nobody can blame you for a system that allows incompetent drivers to stay on the roads. Just don’t touch any alcohol beforehand, mmmkay. And don’t use one of your hands to operate your phone, mmmkay. Then it’s bad, mmmkay.

          • 0 avatar

            TRASHY? Please! Kids experimenting with drugs is not trashy…as was the case with me….mmmmkay! My parents not only had money for cars, but lawyers too…mmmkay! My driving and criminal record are spotless…mmmkay! You’d be surprised how money talks in the judicial system…mmmkay!

            BTW Eating cheeseburgers intil your morbidly obese is also bad…mmmkay!

            My parents were fortunate to be able to keep my record clean…as a cost, of course! Mmmmkay!

            Just remember…money talks! Even for spoiled “trashy” rich kids. Mmmmkay!

          • 0 avatar

            Oh just accept who you and your family are and get over it. I’m no saint either. I also had somewhat of a trashy upbringing, though not quite as reprehensible as yours, by the sound of it. I’m not even taking drug use into consideration in making that judgement. I’d never judge any man for doing what it takes to put up with himself.

            But I’ve always been fit and athletic. It’s the only way I know how to live. And unlike you, I’ve managed to be a competent driver, mmmkay.

          • 0 avatar

            kmars2009 sounds like any number of the rich brats I went to high school with, except in my New England town the cool kids totaled Saabs and BMWs, not Mitsubishis and Camaros.

            Most of us grew up, eventually. Sounds like he did too.

  • avatar

    How do you say “undiagnosable intermittent electronic faults” in Japanese?

    “Mitsubishi export-spec automobile”!

    • 0 avatar

      “How do you say “undiagnosable intermittent electronic faults” in Japanese?”

      doitsu no kuruma

    • 0 avatar


      My stepbrother’s bright red Conquest TSi suffered from this same condition you speak of!

      It was beautiful, clean, and felt quick as all get out.

      Roughly a year or so later, was in the garage… in several pieces.

      That concludes the life cycle of said Conquest TSi.

  • avatar

    This probably would still be on the road if it were a wide body car.

  • avatar

    I had a Mitsu-made Dodge Challenger from that era. It was actually rock solid. I had it for over 100,000 trouble-free miles, and the next owner had great results too.

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    I wanted one when they came out when I was a young buck. Msrp around $17k as I recall, so, not cheap.

    Back then, all Japanese cars were assumed to be excellent, and if anything, Mitsu was considered more cutting edge than other Japanese cars.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Ah, the miserable 2.555L Mitsubishi 4-cylinder!

    Revered at first, then hated for eternity. They must have shared head gasket technology with their 3.0 V6.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ll be “That Guy”

      We owned a 1989 Chrysler New Yorker with that engine. The second transmission failed at 268k miles, but the original engine was still running perfectly fine.

      That’s my only experience with anything Mitsubishi, but I was pleased. Now, Chrysler automatic transmissions….

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