Junkyard Find: 1979 Dodge Colt With Twin-Stick Transmission
Chrysler’s run of selling rebadged Mitsubishis began way back in 1970, when the rear-wheel-drive Colt Galant arrived here for the 1971 model year. Those cars sold very well in North America, with sales continuing through 1978. After that, Colt badges went onto the front-wheel-drive Lancer Fiore (later sold here as the Mirage). Here’s one of those first-year FWD Colts, found in a Denver-area yard in nice condition and equipped with the extremely cool Twin-Stick dual-range transmission.
The Twin-Stick (known as the Super Shift in Japan) was an overdrive unit inside a four-speed manual transmission, giving the driver eight forward and two reverse speeds. In practice, most Twin-Stick pilots would keep the car in the low range until the top of fourth gear on the highway, then switch to the high range. Various names were used for the Twin-Stick ranges over the years; this car has the POWER/ECONOMY labels, while others might have had P/E or even E and a star. I still find Twin-Sticks in junkyards, but the numbers are dwindling.
Last year, I harvested a Twin-Stick lever from an ’84 Colt and used it as the basis for a beer tap handle, which I donated to a South Denver burger joint. That’s how cool the Twin-Stick is (to car geeks).
The 1.6-liter 4G32 engine in the ’79 Colt made 80 horsepower, which was decent for an econobox of the time.
MCA-Jet was an emission-control system with a small second intake valve for each cylinder, causing more swirl of the fuel/air mix in the combustion chambers and more complete fuel burning. It didn’t work as well as Honda’s more advanced CVCC system, but it was a lot less complex.
The Bordello Red interior still looks pretty good at age 41.
Do you think modern car audio systems are too complicated? Check out the simplicity of this Mitsubishi AM-only radio.
For links to 2,000+ additional Junkyard Finds, head over to the Junkyard Home of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™.
JimC2 on Dec 12, 2020
The mechanically-shifted overdrive wasn't all that much different than the "electric" Laycock overdrives on a lot of British cars, Volvos, and I think even a few Datsuns from about 1960 through the 1980s. Those all used an electric circuit to allow (or prevent) the overdrive unit to switch between high and low, but only when you were in fourth gear. The point of the whole thing was there were all these tried-and-true four speed gearboxes and it seemed expedient to attach a two speed gearbox to the tail end of the transmission and give the car a better highway gear. The Laycock units, as many gearheads know, used a little electric solenoid and shifted a bit like an automatic transmission changes gear ratios. Different way to skin a cat. I'm sure that a few people in the British car industry considered a separate gear handle but chose the electrical solution instead. I'm sure that some people at Mitsubishi asked why they shouldn't just copy that system, but for whatever reasons they went with the split shift system we see in this Colt.
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