Rare Rides: The Sporty and Very Rare 1991 Mitsubishi Debonair, by AMG (Part II)

rare rides the sporty and very rare 1991 mitsubishi debonair by amg part ii

Last time on Rare Rides we introduced Mitsubishi’s Debonair, which began its tenure as Mitsubishi’s flagship luxury sedan in 1963 and remained the same for a very long time. Upon the model’s second generation in 1986, the Debonair made the switch to front-drive and adopted more modern looks in an attempt to appeal beyond very conservative large sedan buyers in Japan.

But the changes still weren’t enough, as we’ll see today.

In a hint at what was to come, Mitsubishi sold its largest car design to Hyundai, who lightly rebadged the car and sold it in South Korea as the Grandeur. A new flagship name for Hyundai, the Grandeur initially started out with Mitsubishi components which Hyundai swapped out for its own over time. You’d know the Grandeur as the Azera, nee XG350.

The second-generation Debonair was not as successful as the first, and its conservative and Japan-only market forced Mitsubishi to additionally create the Diamante luxury sedan to appeal to a more global audience. A third-generation Debonair debuted for 1992, and was again more successful in the Korean market as the Grandeur than at home. Circa 1999, Mitsubishi noticed that Hyundai was better at selling its large sedan than it was, and entered a joint effort with Hyundai to develop the long-wheelbase Dignity.

Going larger and upmarket, Mitsubishi took aim directly at the Toyota Century and Nissan President with its new Japanese-Korean luxury sedan. The Dignity was introduced simultaneously (and produced domestically) in South Korea as the Hyundai Equus, and enjoyed much sales success there in a run through 2009. Your author lived there at the time, and the Equus was the large domestic sedan of choice for the successful Korean businessman.

But the Japanese market rejected the Dignity (and standard-wheelbase version Proudia) entirely, and Mitsubishi shifted around 1,200 total examples of both variants between 1999 and 2001. Just 59 of those were the flagship Dignity version. Mitsubishi gave up for a while, but tried once more to capture the large sedan market with another Proudia. That one existed from 2012 through 2016 and was a rebadged Infiniti Q70 (Nissan Cima). So far, Mitsubishi hasn’t shot across the bow of the large luxury sedan again, and the Q70 wasn’t especially full-size anyway.

Next time we’ll get to the reason all these articles were generated: The time AMG got involved to boost the second generation Debonair’s driving excitement.

[Images: Mitsubishi]

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4 of 16 comments
  • Cicero Cicero on Apr 08, 2021

    Imagine calling the cops to report that thieves have stolen your Dignity.

    • See 1 previous
    • DungBeetle62 DungBeetle62 on Apr 08, 2021

      I can't help shaking how Dignity Memorial is a major player in the mortuary game, as such I can only think of the Dignity as a hearse.

  • Geozinger Geozinger on Apr 08, 2021

    As a fan of the Chrysler K-car limousines, that American-Style Debonair checks all of the late malaise era boxes for me. How cool would it be to have a garage with both of those cars?

  • 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.