Junkyard Find: 1979 Dodge Colt With Twin-Stick Transmission

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.

Mitsubishi built the Twin-Stick for Dodge/Plymouth Colts, Plymouth Champs, Mitsubishi Cordias, and Mitsubishi Tredias in the North American market from the late 1970s through the middle 1980s.

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.

The Malaise is strong in this yard, with a Granada right next door to the Colt.

For links to 2,000+ additional Junkyard Finds, head over to the Junkyard Home of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™.

Join the conversation
2 of 35 comments
  • JimC2 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.

  • Superdessucke Superdessucke on Dec 15, 2020

    Liked - "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)."

  • Snickel Fritz I just bought a '97 JX 4WD 4AT, and though it's not quite roadworthy yet I am already in awe of it's simplicity and apparent ruggedness. What I am equally in awe of, is the scarcity of not only parts but correct information regarding anything on this platform. I'm going to do my best to get this little donkey back on it's feet, but I wouldn't suggest this as a project vehicle for anyone who doesn't already have several... and a big impressive shop with a full suite of fabrication/machining/welding equipment, and friends with complimentary skillsets, and extra money, and... you get the idea. If you don't, I urge you to read up on the options for replacing anything on these rigs. I didn't read enough before buying, and I have zero of the above suggested prerequisites... so I'm an idiot, don't listen to me. Go buy all of 'em!
  • Bryan Raab Davis I actually did use the P of D trope, but it was only gentle chiding, for I love old British cars of every sort.
  • ScarecrowRepair The 1907 Panic had several causes of increased demand for money:[list][*]The semi-annual shift of money between farms and cities (to buy for planting and selling harvests)[/*][*]Britain and Germany borrowing for their naval arms race[/*][*]San Francisco reconstruction borrowing after the 1906 earthquake and fire[/*][/list]Two things made it worse:[list][*]Idiotic bans on branch banking, which prevented urban, rural, and other state branches from shifting funds to match demands. This same problem made the Great Depression far worse. Canada, which allowed branch banking, had no bank failures; the US had 9000 failures.[/*][*]Idiotic reserve requirements left over from the Civil War which prevented banks from loaning money; they eventually started honoring IOUs illegally and started the recovery.[/*][/list]Been a while since I read up on it, so I may have some of the details wrong. But it was an amazing clusterfart which could have been avoided or at least tamed sooner if states and the feds hadn't been so ham handed.
  • FreedMike Maybe this explains all the “Idiots wrecking exotic cars” YouTube videos.
  • FreedMike Good article! And I salute the author for not using the classic “Lucas - prince of darkness” trope, well earned as it may be. We all know the rap on BL cars, but on the flip side, they’re apparently pretty easy to work on (at least that’s the impression I’ve picked up). On the other hand, check the panel fits on the driver’s and passenger’s doors. Clearly, BL wasn’t much concerned with things like structural integrity when it chopped the roof off a car designed as a coupe.