Rare Rides: The Colt Vista From 1989 - a Handy Captive Import MPV

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

A couple weeks ago we took a look at a tidy, light blue Nissan Stanza Wagon, which we determined was a very early example of the crossover breed that would heat up decades later. I can happily report the Stanza was quickly snapped up by an automotive enthusiast who plans to take good care of it. Since that little light blue square is off the market, I found a different vehicle of the same general purpose (and color).

Let’s trot on over and take a look at the Colt Vista.

The Dodge or Plymouth Colt Vista was a captive import at a time when Chrysler had substantial tie-ups with Mitsubishi. The little van-wagon wore many different names in North America, but between 1983 and 2003 it was always at heart a Mitsubishi.

Only the first generation, which stayed on our shores through 1991, wore the Colt badge individually. For 1992, the branding fun expanded. Mitsubishi had their version, the Expo LRV. Dodge called it the Colt Wagon, Plymouth added a Vista to that name, and Eagle had its own version — the Summit. It’s almost difficult to see exactly why such duplicity couldn’t last forever.

Assembled in Japan, this Colt came with a wide variety of available options. Like the Stanza Wagon, front- or four-wheel drive was on offer.

Power is provided here by a 2.0-liter inline-four producing (when new) 96 Colt-like horsepower, delivered to the front wheels through a three-speed automatic.

This particular example is fitted with seven seats, making it a full-on minivan. We’ve researched 0-60 times with seven American passengers on board. Sources say: maybe.

The interior is clean and tidy, and the added luxury touch of plastic tree across the dash cannot be ignored. Power mirrors have been provided, though power windows are lacking. This Colt does not appear to have A/C, so your arms will get used to winding those windows — just as well, as you can’t really afford the power sap air conditioning causes.

For sale at a dealer in the Seattle area, this clean Colt is asking $3,499. While the price sounds high, the Colt has just over 80,000 miles, and it’s almost a case of “Don’t like the price? Go find another one.”

Yes, it’s great.

[Images via seller]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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2 of 63 comments
  • Hobson Hobson on Feb 05, 2021

    Oh! I loved this car. I bought it new in 1987 and drove it for 14 years. It's didn't have much power, and I had to replace the clutch and transmission, but the 4 wheel drive, limited slip differential was great. Sometimes you had to choose between air conditioning and going uphill, but the interior was very comfortable and I could easily put 6 passengers in it. The photo of the dash does show the A/C button, between the fan slider switch and the vent selector sliding switch.

  • Starr A Delgado Starr A Delgado on Jul 23, 2023

    We had and my dad still has the kolt 1989 5 speed seven passenger. As I look at the pictures it brings back many great memories of our vacations. It no longer runs, but the interior still looks great! I’d like to restore it for him before my dad passes away! Does anyone know how I could get this done? If so please contact me at Sdelgado@ HBI.org Our family would love to see the smile come to his face before he leaves this earth. My dad is one of a kind and I couldn’t find another way to show my gratitude for all he has done for our family!

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  • Michael Gallagher I agree to a certain extent but I go back to the car SUV transition. People began to buy SUVs because they were supposedly safer because of their larger size when pitted against a regular car. As more SUVs crowded the road that safety advantage began to dwindle as it became more likely to hit an equally sized SUV. Now there is no safety advantage at all.
  • Probert The new EV9 is even bigger - a true monument of a personal transportation device. Not my thing, but credit where credit is due - impressive. The interior is bigger than my house and much nicer with 2 rows of lounge seats and 3rd for the plebes. 0-60 in 4.5 seconds, around 300miles of range, and an e-mpg of 80 (90 for the 2wd). What a world.
  • Ajla "Like showroom" is a lame description but he seems negotiable on the price and at least from what the two pictures show I've dealt with worse. But, I'm not interested in something with the Devil's configuration.
  • Tassos Jong-iL I really like the C-Class, it reminds me of some trips to Russia to visit Dear Friend VladdyPoo.