By on March 21, 2017

1995 Mitsubishi 300GT VR-4 Spyder

Over time, certain terms begin to evoke very specific images in the minds of human beings. For instance, when someone utters the word “truck,” a medium-blue color circa-2010 F-150 comes to mind. “Luxury sedan” triggers competing images of a circa 1998 Lexus LS400 (in gold) and a W126 Mercedes-Benz S-Class of two-tone variety, probably black over light grey.

And “sports car”… well, that’s a red basket-handle Toyota Supra, or our Rare Ride of today: a Mitsubishi 3000GT.

1995 Mitsubishi 300GT VR-4 Spyder

This is just not any 3000GT. This one has an extra monikers attached — VR-4 — which means it’s four-wheel drive and has a six-speed manual. Our example also has the highest-spec engine: a twin-turbo V6 producing 296 horsepower and 306 lb-ft of torque.

Oh, and it’s also a Spyder with a folding metal roof, which is the real reason it’s here today.

1995 Mitsubishi 300GT VR-4 Spyder

This 3000GT is undoubtedly the rarest to find. Listed on Craigslist in Phoenix, the ad copy indicates this top trim Mitsubishi retailed for $65,000 back in 1995. I didn’t believe the claim, but NADA Guides backs it up. According to the CPI Inflation Calculator, that’s equal to $103,898 in 2017. But it was 1995, and you were buying a Mitsubishi.

1995 Mitsubishi 300GT VR-4 Spyder

According to Wikipedia, Mitsubishi sold just 877 Spyder VR-4 models over the two year period between 1995 and 1996. They were converted in the United States from standard coupes into Spyders by ASC. Those are the folks who made things like the Celica convertible for Toyota back in the ’80s. (And don’t forget the Dodge Dakota Convertible! —Ed)

1995 Mitsubishi 300GT VR-4 Spyder

ASC didn’t do anything to the standard interior, which features a variety of colors such as grey and also-gray. It’s a proper four-seater though, and you could conceivably put two thin children back there, assuming the driver and front passenger were 5’8″ or less.

1995 Mitsubishi 300GT VR-4 Spyder

The 3000GT was quite the technical experiment for Mitsubishi. When the model debuted in 1990, it featured four-wheel drive, four-wheel steering, active aero, tunable exhaust modes, and an electronically controlled suspension. Interestingly, the active aero features were not present in its twin, the Dodge Stealth (sad!). The Spyder was created on the bones of the second generation, which ran from 1994 to 1997.

1995 Mitsubishi 300GT VR-4 Spyder

Though the model increased in price as the years went on, Mitsubishi gradually deleted its unique technology to save on costs. 1994 was the last year for tunable exhaust. Electronic suspension died after 1995. And active aero went away after 1996. That year was also the last for the Dodge Stealth, leaving the 3000GT as an only child for the 1997 to 1999 model years. The Mitsubishi lingered on ’til 2000 in the Japanese domestic market, and two remaining cars were titled to owners in 2001.

1995 Mitsubishi 300GT VR-4 Spyder

The relatively insane price put the 3000GT VR-4 Spyder in a bracket with higher performance cars like the Chevrolet Corvette and Dodge Viper. But the extra weight and complexity of a metal folding roof and four-wheel drive weighed the car down and made it non-competitive with those models.

1995 Mitsubishi 300GT VR-4 Spyder

It would seem Mitsubishi themselves weren’t sure where to aim with the 3000GT. The list of intended competitors is unusual and varied: Toyota Supra, Subaru SVX, Skyline GT-R, Honda NSX, Mazda Cosmo, and the Nissan 300ZX. With a list like that, it’s easy to see how such a Frankenstein super-sports-cabrio-4×4-touring vehicle came to be.

1995 Mitsubishi 300GT VR-4 Spyder

But where else are you going to find such a mixture of vehicle types, all rolled into one? I put forth this 3000GT as the very pinnacle of engineering and market bubble excess in the Japanese auto industry. For all the adjectives it has attached to its résumé, you won’t find another single vehicle that manages to combine all of them at once, and still look so damn good today.

Though it’s done 119,000 miles, you’d never know it since it looks brand new. You want a “sports car”? Here you go, for a very fair $22,000.

[Images via Craigslist]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

54 Comments on “Rare Rides: This 1995 Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4 Can Go Topless...”


  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I believe ASC also built the sixth-gen-only (1979-1985) Buick Riviera cabriolets.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    The “unique technology” was what I was going to post about – the tunable exhaust, active aero, etc. Didn’t they also have four-wheel steering?

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    These are great looking cars, at least on the outside. Are those the original wheels? If so, it looks like Mitsubishi was ahead of the curve with the “shadow chrome” wheel paint. BMW typically takes credit for that with the E39 M5.

    The original sticker price is shocking. I would have guessed about half that.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    I begged my dad to buy a base-model 3000GT in 1994 instead of the Integra he bought instead for ~half the price. I was an idiot.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Cool find, Corey. My aunt had the top of the line Stealth in arrest-me-red, which is probably the least aptly named car of all time.

    • 0 avatar
      Corey Lewis

      I’ve always liked these. There’s just so much stuff to look at.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Yep, once upon a time Mitsubishi was relevant.

        • 0 avatar
          Corey Lewis

          This car was more expensive than a 911 Carrera of the same year, and just $2k short of the Carrera Cabriolet.

          • 0 avatar
            Detroit-Iron

            Sometimes in a great while the beancounters are right and the engineers should stfu.

          • 0 avatar
            TonyJZX

            A few of these came into my country as the personal cars of the Mitsubishi CEOs… they are actually smaller than they look in photos.

            At the time it was like as if they were building their own Skyline GTR but without pesky little things like a race pedigree or weight saving so the things end up 4,000lb – there was also no need for them since the Nissans did everything it did but better and simpler and cheaper to maintain which says it all.

            You could also get them as Japanese imports but the Legnum wagon does almost as well with the benefit of actually being a manual wagon.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I’m jealous. My aunt cheaped out and got an Eclipse. But at least it had a manual. Her next car was a Z3, when those came out, also in a manual, and it fell apart.

      Now she’s given up and drives, I believe, a late-model Kia Sorento.

      • 0 avatar
        JMII

        Same here. I debated between this and a 300ZX back in the day. Didn’t have the coin (too young, just married) so I got the Eclipse. Took nearly 20 years before I got my Z. So maybe after another 20 years I grab one of these at Barrett Jackson?

        These things were always too heavy so the extra weight of the folding top must but them in a SUV’s weight class.

        • 0 avatar
          Corey Lewis

          Specs seem to indicate the regular VR-4 was about 3800 pounds. So I’m thinking since a convertible usually adds 300-600 pounds, we’re over two tons.

    • 0 avatar
      arach

      The Stealth was named because it had a volume knob for the exhaust… you could make it loud, or you could make it quiet, hence the stealth.

      If you really want a racket though, tell someone at autozone you need a muffler bearing. They will laugh at you until you make them look it up in the system and they realize the Stealth DID have a muffler bearing as part of this volume/performance exhaust control.

  • avatar
    ThomasTheTrain

    Oh I had one of these … not the convertible but it was a VR 4 … WHEN it was running oh my ‘See spot run!” Great memories :)

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    “For all the adjectives it has attached to its résumé, you won’t find another single vehicle that manages to combine all of them at once, and still look so damn good today.”

    Probably true. B6 S4 comes close though, being a 4wd convertible theoretically available with a 6-speed manual. And a V8! The B6’s shape is not exactly what comes to mind when I think “sports car” though.

  • avatar
    cognoscenti

    I had a lady college professor (Database Systems class no less), that drove a stick-shift Dodge Stealth R/T. By all accounts, she could actually “drive it like she stole it.” – too bad that she was nearing retirement instead of bearing a countenance worthy of an appearance in one of Jack’s fiction pieces. Regardless, I liked her car at the time. Today, however, I look at the 3000GT/Stealth twins as fat slobs. Sorry!

  • avatar
    CarnotCycle

    I have a purple one of these, all-original 3000GT VR-4 with 40,000-something miles on it. I got it as barter over an old debt owed. Of course, it is sitting with airbags still deployed under a tarp in a shop with (slightly) bent frame from gal who last drove it some twenty years ago. Keep eye on these things and their appreciation, trying to gauge optimal time to part the dead old samurai out.

  • avatar
    John-95_Taurus_3.0_AX4N

    I always thought these were RWD like their Supra, Cosmo and Skyline targets. I discovered a few years back that they were FWD primarily.

    That kinda killed it for me. They still look cool, and they are impressive with in their “four wheel everything” Turbo guise, but if they were RWD like their competitors, the lesser versions would be more interesting.

    Even still, Corvette money for a Mitsubishi? Not even in 1995.

    • 0 avatar
      j3studio

      More than Corvette money—base 1995 Corvette convertible was $43,665. With normal options, about $46,000.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        Yea, $65K was ZR1 money.

        • 0 avatar
          arach

          A ZR-1 and a 3000GT were certainly comparable in the early 90s. The ZR1 did output a little more HP and torque, but the 3000gt had AWD and All wheel steering…

          The 3000GT Peak Torque came at 2400 RPM, while the ZR1 wasn’t until 5000 RPM. In fact at low RPMS (under 3000), the engines of both the 3000GT and the ZR1 put up similar performance numbers. At higher RPMs the ZR1 does separate from the 3000GT, but the 3000GT does have 1000 RPM higher redline…

          Stock 3000GTs run just around 13.5 second quarter mile. The ZR1 is just about 13.2, faster, but in the ballpark. 3000GTs once again have that AWD and AWS though that swayed a lot of buyers.

          3000GT was 300 lbs heavier, but with lower drag coefficient, lower turning circle, WAY more passenger volume (4 seater, not 2 seater), Slightly better fuel economy…

          No question they were comparable, but the Corvette Stingray is comparable to many cars twice the price today.

          I think the VR4 was actually a pretty decent price for what it was.

          • 0 avatar
            SPPPP

            The VR4 with the regular roof cost around $40K at the time, so very close to the Corvette. The fancy metal folding roof was what drove it up another $20k or so.

            Bear in mind that the international currency exchange rate was changing very fast around that time, so prices could vary year to year.

  • avatar
    arach

    I owned the ragtop version of this car.

    I miss it! Favorite car I ever owned.

  • avatar
    whitworth

    I really wanted a VR-4 in the sort of “eggshell white” color they offered. It really looked sharp. I really miss the era of Japanese sports cars.

    The Supra Turbo was a WAY better car, but the 3000GT was better looking in my opinion.

  • avatar
    Frylock350

    IIRC the 3rd gen f-body ragtops were made by ASC as well.

  • avatar
    True_Blue

    This was the pinnacle of Japanese overspending and exemplary madness when it comes to sports cars. The amount of insane steel pushed out of Nippon in this era is astounding.

    The Supra MkIV, RX-7 FD3S, Skyline GT-R R33 & R34, the Lancer Evo IV, V, and VI; S13, S14, and S15 Silvias, the Z32 300ZX twin-turbos; the Impreza 22Bs, the SVX, Mitsubishi FTO and Galant VR4s…

    …oy. I’m missing stuff and you can fill in the blank, but wow. An iconic era, all within the “gentleman’s 276 bhp” law.

    Great article, Corey.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    I forgot these cars listed for so much when they were new. And I forgot they existed until now!

    Speaking of rare convertibles, I’ve been toying with the idea of an inexpensive convertible to take the kids to ice cream, car shows,etc. In my CL search, a ’92 Infiniti M30 showed up with only 55k on the clock and an asking price of 2500. It looks decent in the vague CL tradition and the price is right.

    They seem to be another forgotten car from the 90’s since they were more cruiser than sports car, even though it looks like a large 240SX in style. 160hp V6 and 4 spd ensured performance was on the back burner. I don’t need it, yet I find myself drawn to this thing. It is maroon rather than the more accepted(and attractive) pearl white.

    A local car lot has a well cared for 1991 Q45. It tickles me I could recreate half of the Infiniti line-up of the early 90’s for less than 5k.

    • 0 avatar
      Corey Lewis

      Just make sure the Q45 doesn’t have the troublesome “A” active suspension, you don’t want that.

      The M sounds pretty okay for that money. I’ve really only seen them in three colors – maroon, pearl, and black.

    • 0 avatar
      John-95_Taurus_3.0_AX4N

      I love the M30, aka Nissan Leopard. I would rather have the hard top, but I would not turn down a drop top.

      Infiniti made some very interesting cars. Aside from the M30, I love the J30 and the first M45 as well. The G35 is great too, I’d love to have one, a manual/coupe for me.

  • avatar
    LS1Fan

    A relative bought of these brand new. It was a white SL, and besides the top I don’t recall it being much different from a Sebring -besides costing a lot more.

    Car bit the dust when the trans went at 85,000 miles,which appears to be a common ailment of the 3000GT breed.

  • avatar

    I remember this. I lived at home at the time, my stepfather drove a 280 ZX in full lux 2+2 trim.

    The 3000 was very cool even if the smart person of the day with this inclination bought a Supra. The 3000 in later trim (was there an Eagle version ?) was just confusing as a too big stripper cruiser car. It was more than a Vette,…maybe 911 money.

    Good piece !

  • avatar
    seanx37

    For some reason I can’t imagine, there is a shop around the corner from me. They have between 4-6 3000gt’s and at least one Stealth in front of the place at all times. I have seen a few of these there as well.

    I miss this whole class of car. 3000GT, Stealth, 300ZX Turbo, Supra Turbo, Third gen RX 7.

  • avatar
    SilverCoupe

    I looked at one of these in 2001 to replace my ’89 Mk III Supra Turbo (with removable roof panel), but for a several year old 3000GT VR4 Spyder they wanted $38,000. I went with a one year old Audi TT Quattro for $30,000 instead.

    When these first came out in the 90’s, I ogled one at the Philly car show, and I got a flip book showing the roof going up and down (which I still have somewhere!) This was back before I ever had a computer.

  • avatar
    7402

    I had a chance to buy one just like this except it was a sort of lime green color. I passed immediately, but only because at that particular moment I really needed to buy a new minivan which was cheaper than the 6-year-old VR4. The kids would have fit in that back seat at the time, but there would have been no place for grandma and grandpa.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Glad we had them, but the concept made no sense. Japanese sports cars at Corvette/Porsche prices?? How long was that gonna last???

    The 240Z and Celica/Supra had the right idea, same with the original RX7 and maybe the 1st gen MR2. These knew “their place”

    Yet none have truly attempted a V6 Mustang (2+2) knockoff/fighter. The 240sx and Hyundai Genesis coupe sorta did. The “recipe” is right their, free for the taking.

  • avatar
    ciscokidinsf

    LOL – I don’t know what drugs is the seller on – A ‘nice, mint,less than 60K mile VR4′ goes for the paltry sum of $14,000 – The best Spyder VR4’s go for maybe $16K. There are a few crazies who price their VR4s around $20K, or spyders at $25K and they are getting jack squat.

    Furthermore, I lost my shirt (and a bit of my soul ’cause I really loved that car) selling MY OWN SUPER RARE VR4 Spyder that lost $3,000 in value within the space of a year. I bought mine at 160K miles, an complete history from the original owner, fresh Transmission at $12K in 2015- a year later, with baby on the way and no job…sold for a loss and my pride.

    Here was mine at BaT last year- even was featured at Jalopnik, the best offer I got was $9,750….and 3 people (the winner and the other two highest bids) FLAKED OUT despite a clean bill of health. Mine had even a new tranny installed at 120K miles. NEW OEM – last of the batch -despite all that, and great condition, after failing at BaT, it ended at Ebay sold for the humiliating price of $9K – I saw a stupid 90’s Honda Prelude with 80K miles reach $12K that week. WTF?

    http://bringatrailer.com/listing/1996-mitsubishi-3000gt-spyder-vr4/

    One thing is VR4’s consume a transmission per 100K miles, so you can have a rebuild or a used one. No more new ones. In some cases, the 6 speed might get the 5 speed replacement. Mine had a fresh tranny.

    These get no love because they didnt appear in F&F franchise. If they had, they would be MKIV Supra/300SX priced by now. Although servicing this one can get very complicated. Mine needed software requiring a WINDOWS 95 laptop to control the roof controller and run reset sequences as needed.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Good ones.

      “Mine needed software requiring a WINDOWS 95 laptop to control the roof controller and run reset sequences as needed.”

      That is hilarious. Not sure how you did it but one can run emulators on new PCs for DOS, W9.x, OS/2 etc.

    • 0 avatar
      TeeJayHoward

      In the 2Fast2Furious prequel, Brian drives a 3000GT until the cops spot it at a hotel and he picks up the GT-R. Not only was it in the franchise, it was a hero car for a very short period.

      • 0 avatar
        ciscokidinsf

        That’s true! although – It takes less than 2 minutes, and the car had some awful kit on it where you can barely recognize it.

        And I believe the DVD has that as an extra scene. Can’t remember if the actual 3000GT scene at the beginning is in the movie It is in the DVD

  • avatar

    Thanks for the article, Corey. A guy in town had a “plain jane” 3000 in white. Nice looking car and he took good care of it. It was sold a few years back. Now I have something to talk with him about – concerning what his was exactly – when I see him again.

  • avatar
    3S Master

    The “Truth about this car” is its one of the most technologically advanced and still one of the most exciting cars to drive and look at, ever.

    I own a 95 Red VR4 Spyder. One owner when I bought it. Still only 89k miles. Runs amazing. Had all major items serviced or replaced by Chai Morgan for almost nothing in cost (best 3s mechanic in world) ie water pump, timing belt etc. The car still needs new wheels and a few other basic wear items after 23 years but otherwise its awesome!! And it was not the same price as a vette back then nor would i ever pay 70k for a vette now. In todays money the 3000GT VR4 Spyder would retail for 105K new. Is it worth it new…hell yes. My VR4 Spyder is #478 out of only 877 total units built (ever) bt 95-96. One of the rarest cars on earth, especially if still running. Watch the youtube video on how the spyder was modified in CA before hitting dealer lots. Wow!! I would ask 35k all day (once finished and its still 100% original) and i would get it. Hardtop convertible, twin turbo, all wheel drive, red, all wheel steer, electronic suspension that works and room for 4 with groceries too if you wish. Tell mecwhere to sign especially for under 50k used. Boom. Supra’s are reliable but played out, not safe, and frankly dont hold a candlestick to the 3S line. 3S=3000GT & Stealth.

    I also own ’96 Stealth RT Twin Turbo #54 of 57 total units built, last production year, one of the rarest large mfg production cars of all time, imported for Dodge from Japan, 96 Stealth Rt Tt just like the Japan only GTO model, Z15A chassis (lighter, smaller) vs Z16A chassis on the 3000GT. The Stealth faster. No all wheel steer, no electronic suspension etc. just a prime AWD Twin turbo 6 speed getrag trans race car. Dodge did it right on its last year.

    Above all, these are some of the most exciting and balanced cars ever built. They dont go 200mph…nor do they need too. All you need and none you dont. Dont believe me, go drive a good one. 3S actually dependable too if maintained and maintaining isnt that hard nor is finding parts.

    Go buy one now and thank me in 25 years when they sell for 100k+ at auction to retired men who in the 90s had posters of these cats hanging on their wall. Im one of those men..

    Ps-the 3000GT will soon return to production late 2018. :) So the old ones are getting ready to explode in value. Get em while cheap!! Happy hunting!!


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • Fordson: Some makes just should never produce SUVs…this is one of them. Look at the Maserati car in the group...
  • FreedMike: Toyota. Why do you think they haven’t invested in EVs?
  • redapple: Who will buy Tesla? GGM?
  • forward_look: Once I bought a ’74 (?) Colt/Mitsubishi for $100 that had the strut towers rusted out. I welded...
  • thelaine: Tick tock

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States