By on September 18, 2017

Image; 1989 Colt Vista, via seller

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.

Image; 1989 Colt Vista, via seller

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.

Image; 1989 Colt Vista, via seller

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.

Image; 1989 Colt Vista, via seller

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.

Image; 1989 Colt Vista, via seller

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.

Image; 1989 Colt Vista, via seller

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.

Image; 1989 Colt Vista, via seller

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.

Image; 1989 Colt Vista, via seller

[Images via seller]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

61 Comments on “Rare Rides: The Colt Vista from 1989 – a Handy Captive Import MPV...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Wasting dash real estate on a tachometer seems even sillier than our modern affectation for such things.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    Buddy of mine’s Dad in high school had one of these, in 4wd and stick. Dodge Colt Vista version in metallic red. Replaced a Toyota Corolla 4wd Wagon (the one with the tailgate that looked like an ATM machine), also stick, that my buddy managed to run off the road and roll. Compared to the Toyota, the Dodge was a rocketship. It took some real lack of talent to get something so slow going fast enough to not make a corner. Ah, 16yos… Same friend bought a really nice early ’80s 911 right after college – hope he still has it as it will probably fund his retirement. Assuming he hasn’t slid it off the road backwards.

    You need to find one of the Toyotas, though I think Murilee may have done a Junkyard Find on one already. These all rusted horribly so there can’t be many left. This one looks amazing for nearly 30 years old.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      I had a 1983 Tercel SR-5 4wd wagon. I hated it, and the feeling was evidently mutual, as it tried to kill me one day.

      I still would like to have a 1982 or older Tercel, any body style so long as its a manual. The funky hatchback is really cool.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      I recall the Tercel wagon in the junk yards in large numbers due to the styling. The crease lines running up over the roof resulted in even minor rear-enders causing the whole back end to bend downward. Instant writeoffs.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      They’re around if you know where to look, as in on the western half of the continent. This one is the same color mine was.

      https://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/cto/d/toyota-tercel-4×4-5-speed/6312774802.html

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    Ah the auto kills it for me. Our family friends had a 4wd stick shift one of these, ended up upgrading to a likewise odd-ball MPV AllSport. If I still lived back home with no highway commute, one of these slathered in Fluid Film would be a fun around town car.

    • 0 avatar

      This car has you written all over it.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        I’m actually scooping up an ’03 Pilot EX super cheap (as in $500) once the Ranger sells. Knowing the right people I guess! Kind of boring I know, but it just needs a spot of welding near the rear subframe and aside from that it is a stupendously clean single owner, well maintained unit with nice Michelin LTX tires. So I’m getting into an AWD crossover, just not a cool and funky off-beat one.

        • 0 avatar

          Be careful, you’ve started calling cars units.

          Soon, you’ll be dealing the stuff.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          When I hear of a Pilot or Oddy for cheap, I think “trans failure”. I tend to forget that many of you live in the salt belt.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Yeah I’m pretty paranoid about it as well, then again I see many in the 220k+ mile range with original trans. This one’s at least had some drain/fills with OEM Honda ATF. My plan is to do a few more drain/fills and install a trans cooler. Perhaps more worryingly, the fancy rear diff unit with the VTM4 system has never been serviced with new fluid (also Honda specific stuff) so that’s a top priority as well.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            I have thought about getting some Oddys with trans failure (in otherwise good condition) and repairing them. I’m supposed to go on a job with my cousin in a few weeks, and hopefully will be making some good money. I want to buy some cars I can repair and resell.

            Problem is, I don’t have a shop, and I’ve never pulled a FWD transaxle before. I would guess that lowering the entire engine cradle/subframe would be the best way. I did find an eBay seller who has rebuilt trans for those with an upgraded torque converter for a reasonable price.

            Maybe I should just get something a bit easier to do. With my issues, doing pretty much any big job will take me a very long time. For example, my Taurus was down for about two weeks when I redid the front brakes, one caliper and the front strut/spring assemblies. This was due to nothing more than me simply being physically unable to continue for sometimes days at a time.

            Speaking of the Taurus and that job, I need to get the rear ones done. I also am thinking I may have a wheel bearing going out, I can (barely) hear a rotational roaring sound (if that makes any sense) from the right front.

            I do want a second vehicle to swap out with the Taurus so that I can take my time and do some of the upkeep it needs. I am just happy it keeps going as well as it does, but its approaching 240k now, it’s time to get some stuff out of the way. Yes, I know its value is lower than what I will “invest” in it (for lack of a better term), but I love it and never plan to sell it. Doesn’t matter if its worth $50 or $50,000- its priceless to me.

            I’m thinking a 4 cylinder Honda with a manual would make a good second car, but I could really use a truck (especially if I’m going to buy cars to repair in the future).

    • 0 avatar
      spookiness

      Did these have those double sticks with the high and low range like the Colt hatchbacks did?

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      Agreed. The visibility out the normal-sized windows would be fantastic, but the AT and lack of A/C make it a no-go.

  • avatar
    statikboy

    More pics?

  • avatar
    VW4motion

    Damn it Corey you found another good one.

    Did these come with an optional awd system?

  • avatar
    Corollaman

    Now you just to locate one of those old Civic boxy wagons.

    • 0 avatar
      Coopdeville

      I don’t know about this car, but if we ever came across one of those Civics we could charge anything we wanted for it, no matter the age, mileage, or condition. They all went to the same type – middle-aged librarian but with a liberal, artsy lean. I think conservative librarians drive Corollas.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      https://seattle.craigslist.org/kit/cto/d/1985-4×4-honda-civic/6308163709.html

      Almost 300k, but its the only 4wd version I saw in a quick search. There were plenty of other wagons this style, though. I didn’t check em all, so there may have been other 4wd versions.

      • 0 avatar

        Extra sketchy! That’s not an ’85, it’s a later one. Can tell from the headlamps that it’s an ’88 or so.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          But “your” not gonna find another one! Unless you look for it.

          Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of typical craigslisters. I have a 1998 Mercury Marquis to prove it (which looks surprisingly like a Mystique)!

          • 0 avatar
            statikboy

            Correct!

            The body is ’88 or ’89, but the MOTOR appears to be carbureted, so from a ’87 or older Civic or an ’85 or older Accord. It is not from an ’86 to ’89 carbureted Accord; I had one, had an alloy valve cover.

            Also, I’m quite sure there was no “4WD Button” in these. Just an earlier version of the always-on reactive AWD found in the first CR-V.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            Corey’s right, very sketchy.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            This ad is just plain bizzare. The underhood and interior shots are clearly of a 3rd gen Civic (carb’d motor, full width HVAC vents), but there are exterior shots of a 4th gen “EF” wagon. I don’t know what to think lol

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            Maybe he swapped the front bodywork with an EF, and so it really is a 1985/3rd gen?

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            After that comment I made about some of the people with ads on craigslist, I had to come back and post this one.

            Anyone ever seen the super rare 3.4L 4 cylinder in a 1996 Crown Vic?

            https://mobile.craigslist.org/cto/d/1996-ford-crown-victoria-34l/6311715430.html

            Rare ride for sure! So rare, its never actually existed. I guess if you don’t know what engine you have, and can’t read “4.6” that’s written right on the throttle body, its perfectly acceptable to just make up whatever you want. Almost as funny as the horribly written scam ads listing a Toyota Camry as having a V-8 and 4wd.

            Maybe the Vic is only running on one bank of cylinders?

          • 0 avatar
            RHD

            This one does come with a somewhat worn N3d0 710 cap, though.

        • 0 avatar
          pwrwrench

          Arrrgh! Mid-80s Japanese cars. That’s when only a specific spark plug would work. There would be two makers part numbers on the engine compartment emission control settings sticker. Typically Nippondenso and NGK. Any other brand, regardless of part number interchange charts would last a few hundred miles. Certainly in that Honda CVCC engine.
          As usual don’t ask how I know this.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    The plastic wood on that dash is so extra…

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    By the way, Corey, was it you that has the thing for late-’90s Acura CLs? I found a mint one the other day.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    There are two examples of 1992 Colt Wagons for sale in Seattle right now – one of them is very clean for $2200

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Would you believe some dealerships tried to call this a mini-minivan at the time? How do I know? I worked for one of them.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    “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.”

    Need a better shot of the climate controls. IIRC, the AC was on the slider, not a pushbutton on/off like newer models.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      I seem to remember most imports of the day had an A/C button.

      Edit, a Google Images search confirms the Colt Vista did have a button for the A/C.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        I would note that I had to have a manual AC compressor switch installed in my ’97 Ranger. Admittedly, not an import but EVERY setting on the heater/defroster side of the dial ran the compressor, whether it was needed or not.

        Like I said, I’d really like a better photo of that HVAC control before I commit irrevocably. I’m actually saying I might be wrong on that Colt, but I’m not certain either way.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    All that tacky used car dealer stuff on and around it makes me remember why I rarely go to a dealership, and its never one like that. All those signs should say “get screwed over here!”, “buy with the confidence that the deal is going to be AWFUL!” and “set fire to your money inside!”.
    I’d buy a well-used 200k+ example before hitting up a pot lot like that one. I don’t hate all car dealers, but ones like that just kill me.

    This version is ugly, but the Expo LRV that followed was more my cup of tea. I wouldn’t mind one, red with grey lower tone, manual trans and from a private owner, of course.

  • avatar
    scottcom36

    I rode in an ’87 when it was a late-model car. It had a nice high seating position, rode smoothly and felt well made.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    Corey, you should do a Rare Rides article on a Honda Z600. In case you’re not familiar, its pretty much a Kei car sold here for 3 years before Honda introduced us to Civic. As the name implies, it has a 600 cc air-cooled two cylinder engine. The Z was the coupe version, there was an N600 “sedan” (which was still a two door, but had more upright styling).

    I want a Z600 bad. Make mine Avocado green, or lemon yellow, please.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve actually been up close to one of those at a concours show, which was in perfect condition. It was so, SO small. Bright orange. They had the little trunklet open so you could see the tire.

      Definitely worth a Rare Rides, so it goes on my list (there are 20 cars on it, just waiting).

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        That would be a cool color too!

        I saw an episode of Magnum P.I. where he was driving an N600. Instead of getting in, its like he had to put it on like a pair of pants. Ha!

        Why does my subscription emails list people (like Tony below) as replying to “stephwillems” instead of Corey Lewis? Weird.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    I would take one of these right behind an original Chrysler minivan…

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    ahh the Mitsubishi Nimbus.

    A quasi nascent people mover from 30yrs ago? Rare on the roads even a deceade ago… for good reason.

    Although obviously space efficient, Mitsubishi had not perfected the automatic gearbox or oil seals or valve stems as yet.

    They have the typical Mitsubishi odor and blue smoke whenever you see the diamond star on the road. They would have been melted down and turned into China pots and pans by now.

    Not forgotten by us but not missed either.

    Pass.

  • avatar
    threeer

    I enjoy finding rare oddities like this much more than seeing Porsches and Ferraris and such. I spend an inexcusable amount of on line looking for the odd ducks. Came very close to pulling the trigger on a 1989 VW Polo three door that was imported for some strange reason to the US (right hand drive, no less). The thing was beyond clean and spoke to me with it’s tiny engine, little tires and 4-speed manual. But the wife wasn’t having it, so there ya go.

    Keep the rare rides coming!

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      I’m right there with you. That’s frankly what I enjoy so much about Curbside Classics, featuring everyday vehicles (both the rare and the common) and talking about their backgrounds and such, and reading all of the commentors’ ownership stories. Well maintained older plain jane cars will catch my eye much more than a new exotic/sports car.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    Ah that 80s Japanese interior – I’m having flashbacks to the ’84 Nissan truck and the ’97 Nissan Stanza I used to drive. Also a duo of 80s Accords.

    Those seats look hard wearing – such good condition!

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Ah yes, we had one of these for a few years when I was growing up, same color and everything. Probably the weirdest thing about it from a modern perspective are the ashtrays in the second-row door panels.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • kosmo: “How’s that Ranger Raptor coming, Ford? Oh, it isn’t? I see. Thanks for the mobility scooter,...
  • dividebytube: When I’m down south I’m taken aback by the number of decent looking old trucks and even G...
  • redapple: RED…. Great catch. Love it.
  • teddyc73: What an ugly rear end.
  • FreedMike: Have you ever heard a Ghibli’s exhaust? I’d say that’s one big selling point. Otherwise,...

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