By on September 20, 2019
Luxury, elegance, Mitsubishi: Three words that sound just right in a singular sentence. Similarly, one sedan expresses all three of those words in a magnificent way. It’s a very rarely seen Mitsubishi Sigma, from 1989.

The car you see before you wore several different names throughout the world, and indeed more than one within North America. Sigma was Mitsubishi’s largest sedan offering throughout the world — aside from the Japanese domestic market, where it offered the executive-class Debonair (a rebadged Hyundai Grandeur by the Eighties).

Always a showcase for what the brand could accomplish in technology and innovation, the fifth-generation Sigma entered production in 1983. In most markets it wore some form of a Sigma badge, joined here and there by Galant, Eterna, and Sapporo nomenclature. This generation was the first example of a front-drive Sigma, as Mitsubishi adopted such a drive train across all their passenger cars by the end of the decade.

As with many Japanese offerings of the time, the conservative sedan body was accompanied by a more sporty hardtop version. Globally, a staggering 11 engine choices were available, along with automatic transmissions of three and four speeds, as well as a Twin-Stick eight-speed manual and a standard five-speed. In Japan only, a VR trim employed a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder boasting a technology called Cyclone Dash 3×2. Depending on throttle inputs, the engine switched between two and three valves per cylinder on the fly, promising economy and power. Intriguing!

The North American market received only the hardtop sedan body style, which featured a more glassy look via its six-window greenhouse. It debuted locally for 1988, and for a single year was called Galant Σ, which was assuredly pronounced “Galant Eee” by people in the Midwest. By 1989 Mitsubishi saw the error of its ways and renamed the model to Sigma. The name changed accompanied new swirly design alloy wheels.

Mitsubishi realized power, simplicity, and ease of driving were key selling points to people other than the Québecois, so all North American Sigmas received a 3.0-liter V6 engine and a four-speed auto. A short-lived offering, the Sigma was finished by 1990. Mitsubishi then split its lineup.

The model seen here overlapped its last few years of production with the more modern sixth-generation Galant, which was a cheaper and less complex offering. Galant was already on sale, and would continue unabated through 1994 in its contemporary form, while the Sigma name vanished from Galant in all markets. Sigma buyers (however many there were) transitioned instead to a new offering at Mitsubishi, the Diamante. More suited as a luxury competitor, Diamante provided an additional 10 inches of overall length compared to its predecessor Sigma. And BMW styling to boot.

Today’s Sigma is very rare, very clean, and has copiously ruched velour. With 131,000 miles and a transmission solenoid issue, it asks just $1,595.

[Images: seller]

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40 Comments on “Rare Rides: The 1989 Mitsubishi Sigma – Excellent Parts Availability Guaranteed...”

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    At $1,600 the perfect parts car for the only other Sigma owner in North America?

    Bit of a shame as it does truly look well ‘loved’ and well cared for. A nice ‘survivor’ (to use a phrase some dislike).

  • avatar
    R Henry

    Perfect example of how rarity does NOT equal value or desirability.

  • avatar

    There was Diamante (WAGON EVEN!) sitting in the alley behind a local business for many years. I should have snapped a pic of it.

    Didn’t Mitsubishi even try direct injection in a V6 at some point in the early 90s? I miss the innovative Mitsubishi.

  • avatar

    Is the wheelbase extremely short, or the overhangs very long?

  • avatar

    How is a car with a B-pillar considered a hardtop? This is a sedan. The 2G Integra had a B-pillar and was also called a hardtop. Perhaps this is a Japanese translation error.

    • 0 avatar

      What used to be referred to as a “pillared hardtop”. The GM C-Body cars (Cadillac de Ville, Olds Ninety-Eight, Buick Electra 225) offered a “hardtop” style like this in the ’60s (actually through ’70). My kid brother owned a ’70 Olds Ninety-Eight LS, the LS meaning “Luxury Sedan”.

  • avatar

    Looks exactly like an Eagle Premier

  • avatar

    Good lord, they must have had a ruching specialist at the Mitsu plant.

    • 0 avatar

      What I miss most from 80s cars is the velour. Come at me in the comments, fellas!

      Also, I love the black inserts in the taillights. Don’t know why that sort of thing totally died, can add a lot of character to a design.

  • avatar

    I had a short stint at a Mitsubishi dealership in the sales department in Connecticut in 1988. I recall driving one of these and thinking how really luxurious the car was. Decent power and very well appointed. At least compared to all of the Precis’ models littering our lot.

  • avatar

    This was when Mitsubishi built some quality stuff. I knew a couple of folks that owned these (one was a Galant Σ). They were pretty nice cars, and well-equipped.

  • avatar

    My parents owned a 1985 Galant. The four cylinder, not the Sigma. My brother-in-law’s parents also owned one, a 1988 Sigma. They were very nice cars back then. Very comfortable, adjustable rear seat, quiet, powerful. And a little unusual. I really liked it.

  • avatar

    Widespread transmission problems, something they never really got a grip on. Gimmicky approach to modern controls. Otherwise a nice car.

  • avatar

    If only our hay bales weren’t stacked so high, farting cattle didnt need as much tending, and county fairs weren’t so fun, we Midwestern rubes might habe chosen to complete our schoolin’ enough to learn as much about them Greeks as you fancy coastal folks.

    Thankfully we don’t even ever see any of these Asian contraptions driving around on our country roads. Heck- forget about your large funny ‘E’, I’m still trying to figure out what in creation a ‘Mitsubishi’ is! I don’t knoe whether to say “God Bless You” or give you directions to that new Chinese restaurant that opened up in the back of the Amoco station in the next town over. Best hurry though- it’ll be gone faster than a cat’s tail in a room full of rocking chairs.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Mitsubishi parts can be hard to find and expensive. I had a Mighty Max pickup (Dodge rebadged one as the D-50) for 14 years and even when it was 2 years old finding parts for it could be a challenge. I liked the truck but after that I swore off MItsubishi and even the rebadged ones with Chrysler name tags.

    • 0 avatar

      I had an ’87 Ram 50 I bought off of my stepfather in ’95 with 170K miles on it. I kept it until about 2005 when it had 309K miles. I don’t know about parts being hard to find because it never needed any. Other than switching to 20w50 oil for a slight leak and some oil burning(no visible smoke though)and two spark plug non foulers that I drilled out larger, that thing kept running.

  • avatar

    My Other Mitsubishi is a Betty.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    More JDM wackiness:

  • avatar

    This one looks tacky and ugly. In 90s my neighbor had 1991 model. It was a thing of beauty inspired y BMW. It actually looked better than BMW. The problem was that new it cost almost the same as BMW 5 series, but used one from Germany was cheap. Yeah they were considered luxury but of course no one took Japanese luxury seriously. And spare parts were more expensive and harder to get by than for German brands. And also Japanese cars were considered not as durable as German cars – essentially they had reputation of being disposable cars and were rarity in European part of country.

  • avatar

    With a 5-speed, this would be a great commuter, especially in an area without salted roads. What else can you get that is this nice for so little money? However the AT is it’s Achilles heel.

  • avatar

    Automotive design Rule #4:
    – No directional wheels

    • 0 avatar

      Amen. The first directional wheels I can remember were on the 1984 C4 Corvette. What they did right was make mirror image wheels for the left and right sides of the car. What they did wrong was evident when the Corvettes racing in showroom-stock swapped their wheels from left to right and vice-versa in order to promote brake cooling. They styled the wheels instead of engineering them. Directional wheels are bad unless they look like they’re on backwards.

  • avatar

    Kind of looks like Giorgetto Giugiaro’s work. Anybody know who the designer was?

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