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

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

Today marks the final installment in our Mitsubishi Debonair saga, which began a couple of days ago. We talked origins and its eventual demise, and today we’ll cover the little AMG part in the middle.

Unlike its present Mercedes-owned state, prior to 1990 tuning house AMG was an independent entity. And though they did projects in conjunction with Mercedes-Benz often, the company was free to partner with other firms and do work as they pleased. So amongst the company’s Eighties projects with Mercedes, they were contacted by Mitsubishi. Someone at the company wanted to add some excitement to the Debonair sedan as it flagged in sales against the competition. Surely AMG could come to the rescue, and lend European sports tuner credibility to the Debonair.

It’s important to remember some context here, that the elusive “European sports sedan buyer” idea was all the rage amongst MBAs at every car company. The sports sedan buyers were young, affluent, still had their hair, and purchased BMWs. Naturally, every company which sold a sedan and wanted to appear premium chased said customer to the ends of the earth for a piece of the pie. It’s what led to cars like the Cadillac STS, and the Touring version of the Lincoln Town Car. And this Debonair.

After AMG’s work was finished, several changes were applied to turn the Debonair into Debonair AMG for 1987. The model’s full name on PR was the Debonair V 3000 Royal AMG. Unfortunately, the alterations were not mechanical in nature. Underhood was the same naturally aspirated 3.0-liter V6 from the Dynasty, still paired to the four-speed automatic and driving the front wheels (all-wheel drive would’ve been a big boon here).

Exterior styling was revised, as the AMG sprouted a sharply angled body kit, monochromatic trim, and prominent AMG badges all around the exterior. Wheels were swapped with a sawblade color-keyed design unique to the version, along with a new horizontal grille treatment to replace the stodgy vertical one on the standard car. There was also a rear deck spoiler to press the back toward the earth.

Inside, changes included a new four-spoke AMG wheel (a key marketing feature). Buyers could choose a more traditional seating look of overstuffed and ruched velour or more sporty velour chairs sans ruching. Tan leather was also available for the more vulgar buyer. The AMG trim was offered on standard and longer Royal 150 versions of the Debonair, with the longer version introduced in 1990.

Overall, the appeal of the Debonair’s AMG variant was enough to keep it in production from 1987 through 1991 (end date is a bit unclear). But it was overall a very rare vehicle. After a search, I found none for sale, only this one in iffy condition on a car registry site. Mitsubishi collaborated with AMG once more on a Galant, but that’s a Rare Ride for another day.

[Images: Mitsubishi]

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  • Craiger Craiger on Apr 12, 2021

    Makes the Volvo 740 look like Joi Lansing.

  • THX1136 THX1136 on Apr 12, 2021

    The side badge would look better to my eye if it was centered between the gas door and taillight. Above the wheel well just looks awkward/wrong (probably due to me being used to seeing it placed in a more 'traditional' position). Thanks for the write up, Corey.

  • FreedMike Back in the '70s, the one thing keeping consumers from buying more Datsuns was styling - these guys were bringing over some of the ugliest product imaginable. Remember the F10? As hard as I try to blot that rolling aberration from my memory, it comes back. So the name change to Nissan made sense, and happened right as they started bringing over good-looking product (like the Maxima that will be featured in this series). They made a pretty clean break.
  • Flowerplough Liability - Autonomous vehicles must be programmed to make life-ending decisions, and who wants to risk that? Hit the moose or dive into the steep grassy ditch? Ram the sudden pile up that is occurring mere feet in front of the bumper or scan the oncoming lane and swing left? Ram the rogue machine that suddenly swung into my lane, head on, or hop up onto the sidewalk and maybe bump a pedestrian? With no driver involved, Ford/Volkswagen or GM or whomever will bear full responsibility and, in America, be ambulance-chaser sued into bankruptcy and extinction in well under a decade. Or maybe the yuge corporations will get special, good-faith, immunity laws, nation-wide? Yeah, that's the ticket.
  • FreedMike It's not that consumers wouldn't want this tech in theory - I think they would. Honestly, the idea of a car that can take over the truly tedious driving stuff that drives me bonkers - like sitting in traffic - appeals to me. But there's no way I'd put my property and my life in the hands of tech that's clearly not ready for prime time, and neither would the majority of other drivers. If they want this tech to sell, they need to get it right.
  • TitaniumZ Of course they are starting to "sour" on the idea. That's what happens when cars start to drive better than people. Humanpilots mostly suck and make bad decisions.
  • Inside Looking Out Why not buy Bronco and call it Defender? Who will notice?