By on April 17, 2017

1985 Mitsubishi Galant in California junkyard, LH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The first non-Chrysler-badged Mitsubishis arrived in the United States for the 1983 model year, in the form of the Cordia, Tredia, and Starion. They weren’t enormous sellers, but they made the Mitsubishi name a bit more familiar to American car shoppers. For 1985, Mitsubishi USA brought over the fifth-generation Galant, hoping to steal some sales from the extremely popular Honda Accord. Galant sales were not brisk, to put it mildly, and so I found it noteworthy when I spotted this first-year-of-importation Galant in a San Francisco Bay Area wrecking yard.

1985 Mitsubishi Galant in California junkyard, HVAC controls - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Mitsubishi was all about futuristic controls during this era, and so the Galant buyer got these space-station-grade HVAC/wiper controls on pods attached to the adjustable steering column.

1985 Mitsubishi Galant in California junkyard, turn signal switch - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

On the left-hand pod, more controls, including a paddle-style turn-signal switch.

1985 Mitsubishi Galant in California junkyard, rear seats - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Mitsubishi trimmed the interior in industrial-strength burgundy cloth and hard red plastic, all of which has done a fine job enduring 32 years of California sun.

1985 Mitsubishi Galant in California junkyard, odometer - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Most Accords of this era survived more miles than this car (based on my very unscientific junkyard-odometer sampling), but 163,000 miles is good enough for most cars of the middle 1980s.

1985 Mitsubishi Galant in California junkyard, engine - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

This car had a 101 horsepower, 2.4-liter straight-four engine. The 1985 Accord had just 86 hp, and you had to deal with a lot of slimy dealership practices — if you could even find one to buy.

Sounds like a good deal!

As always, the Japanese-market ads were better.

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22 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1985 Mitsubishi Galant...”

  • avatar

    Interesting thoughts on Mitsubishi:

    I had a discussion one day with a sales rep at a company I worked for at the time about foreign cars, and he said he’d never buy one, especially a Mitsubishi.

    I asked why? He said he’d lost too many buddies in the war to Zeroes made by that company.

    He was in the navy in the Pacific theater, and was involved in the Battle of Midway. A friend of his was George Gay, whose TBD Devastator was shot down, his crew killed and spent 30 hours in the water witnessing some of the battle.

    He brought in his naval yearbook to prove it, too!

    True – I didn’t believe in buying foreign cars at that time, either, since we drove Chrysler products, and their K-Cars were so good(!), and we liked ours.

    Later in the 1980s, however, I began to keep an eye on Mitsubishi products, since there was a dealership nearby, and people were buying and driving them.

    They’ve fallen quite a bit since, it seems.

    I did think the Starion was a pretty cool ride, though.

    • 0 avatar

      Anti-Japanese sentiment was very high during the ’80s. They were gonna take over our economy, dontcha know.


      In the late ’80s, I had a job selling advertising all over the Midwest, primarily in small towns, and I drove a ’85 Honda Civic. I rolled up to a Chevy dealer (normally a prime prospect) not too far from Kokomo, Indiana and asked to speak to the owner. Guy came out of his office, and asked me whether that “piece of Jap s**t” was mine. I told him it was. He then gave me ten seconds to get off his property.

      Was he just too stupid to know that there were a couple of “pieces of Jap s**t” were right there on his showroom floor, or was it just fun way to get rid of a salesman?

  • avatar

    Love it.

    Boxy 80s Japanese sedans (specifically in white for some reason) are so thoroughly ingrained in my mind. They started to pop up all across Siberia starting in the early 90s when there were absolutely no regulations on importing used cars, and a glut of Japanese iron (due for the 7 year Shaken inspection) started pouring in and importers starting springing up. Fishing vessels from Vladivostok would always cram as many used cars as they could on the deck.

    Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky’s budding car market in ’94:

    Car runners driving across the frozen expanse of Eastern Siberia (offroad and on frozen rivers for hundreds of kilometers) back west with their newly acquired Japanese steeds:

    Popular action movies from the budding post-Soviet movie industry about car runners (featuring a ’81 “Celica Camry”):

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Denver

      They were white because most cars in Japan are were white in that era. Why did the Japanese love white cars? Nobody really knows, but they did.

      • 0 avatar
        spreadsheet monkey

        White was Japan’s national racing colour. The Italians had red, and the Brits had dark green…

      • 0 avatar

        A ton of used RHD Japanese imports come to Russia with really nice white stitched fabric seat covers, people always wonder how you’re supposed to keep something like that clean. I guess it’s a sign of how well you keep your car if you can keep those covers white. The same logic might extend to the cars? Or simply a fashion like having white appliances was popular at one point.

  • avatar

    The Jap ad says:

    “風来坊 (n) wanderer; vagabond; capricious person; hobo”

    IOW someone blown about by the wind (風, “kaze” of kamikaze).

    I guess we’d say “free spirit” though I pretty much agree with the equivalence to a bum.

  • avatar

    That japanese commercial is so synthetic I think Melania must have been inspired by it. Thoughtful man appears from fibreglass egg-rock with hat (the rock not the man), drives car to music which as far as I can tell is Demis Roussos who is the only Greek singer who is an English “National Treasure”, singing made up words over the melody of the Rodriguez Guitar Concerto, a Spanish musical icon.

    I think they are trying to tell us that all that Tora! stuff is in the past and that they will invade with compact sportish saloons anyway, so your screwed either way. Oddly they compare themselves to the CA series Accord but not the Mighty Camry.

  • avatar

    163,272 miles, and I’ll bet it huffed blue smoke for 100,000 of those.

    Judging from the dirt on the trunklid, it had a rear spoiler, but somebody’s snagged it.

  • avatar

    I dated a girl during and shortly after high school, she had an Eagle Premier that she had wrecked but her dad had it fixed. (When it got out of the body shop, it wouldn’t run, but he had already bought her a 1989 Escort 5 door that I ended up with lol.)

    Anyway, it had control pods on the sides similar to those. Very gimikey, evidently didn’t help it or this Mitsu, sales wise.

    • 0 avatar

      We test drove a Galant in 1986 or so, and when I first tried out a Premier it *totally* reminded me of this Galant. Similar not-quite-there styling, similar interior that was roomy and feature-rich and mostly ergonomic but somehow still off-putting. Similar squared-off dashboards filled with little square buttons.

  • avatar

    That HVAC/wiper pod is ridiculous. I love it.

  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    I want to say this model was used as the basis for the first generation Hyundai Sonata. Could be wrong on that.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Somewhere between this Galant and the Sigma version.

    • 0 avatar
      Guitar man

      The first Sonata uses the Sirius engine, which doesn’t have balance shafts and was only used by Mitsi on commercial vehicles in 1985. It was first used in the late 1960s. The Astron/Orion engines used by Mitsubishi at the time were much more powerful and smoother.

      It also appears to be based on the Hyundai Pony bodyshell – which was derived from the magnificent Morris Marina….

  • avatar

    Mitsubishis of the mid-80’s, namely the Mirage and the Galant, were the most “European” looking of the Japanese manufacturers in my opinion. I especially liked this version of the Galant, but in the JDM/European specification with less chrome, rear license plate housed in the bumper, shorter bumpers, and flush headlamps. The control pods on either side of the steering wheel on the junked Galant appear to mimic those on the Citroen CX and GSA. The Galant’s party trick was a rear seatback that reclined.

    • 0 avatar

      That wasn’t the only one. The rear seat cushions could also be raised in the front for better support and legroom, with individual controls for each side (the driver side rear seat is adjusted in this manner in the photo above). Oddly, the backrest could only recline in one piece so everyone in back needed to agree on a recline position. The weirdest thing back there were the headrests though – they could be adjusted not only forward and back but also, for reasons known only to Mitsubishi engineers, side to side (which was totally unnecessary especially since they were wide headrests to begin with. But they didn’t adjust up and down, and even though i’m only 5’8″ they were a bit too low for me. Still a very roomy and comfortable back seat, and the front seats were attached to the vertical surfaces surrounding them rather than the floor leaving loads of room for your feet.

      IIRC, the fronts seats also had an unusual adjustment – the top half of the seatback could be tilted forward and back a few degrees while leaving the bottom half of the seatback untouched.

      The upholstery had thin white stripes running through the red cloth just as seen here, making it look pink and faded. The last year this generation Galant was available they upgraded the upholstery to a much nicer solid velour.

  • avatar

    Hey, a turn signal lever even worse than the pod-mounted version in the 1991 Chrysler LeBaron interior redo.

  • avatar

    Some woman down here in Pueblo, Co, still drives one of these. A rare one indeed, the one she has is yellow and appears to have a factory sunroof. My 95 Galant was far more conservative looking lol. Those tiny square back up lights are funny.

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