By on April 9, 2021

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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11 Comments on “Rare Rides: The Sporty and Very Rare 1991 Mitsubishi Debonair, by AMG (Part III)...”

  • avatar

    Don’t forget the taillights ripped from a 1989 Nissan Stanza! You know a marketing department is REAAALLLLY reaching for something when they boast an “AMG designed steering wheel.” That’s like Toyota joining forces with BMW and then bragging that BMW’s M-division designed the climate control vents. And then Mitsubishi took one look at the 1988 Grand Prix steering wheel and told AMG, “We need more buttons!”
    This is late-80’s Japanese square done to perfection. Big puffy overdone interior. “Sport trim” that makes the body look just a bit awkward. And from pictures I saw yesterday, some models even came with the must-have feature of the 80’s car stereos…the graphic equalizer. Mess it up once and your stereo never sounded good again. Ahhh, memories.

  • avatar

    Yikes! I like the standard brougham flavor. This is just all kinds of awkward.

  • avatar

    About the nicest thing I can say about it is that it’s not quite as ugly as, and looks a bit better made than, the Dynasty that shared its engine and general silhouette.

    (My college job, for the university, featured the driving of several awful fleet-spec Dynastys with sheets of white paint peeled off, most with this same V6.)

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    The Mitsubishi Debonair looks like a stretched first generation Camry.

    I would suggest the Mitsubishi Sigma as a Rare ride but it’s been done already.

  • avatar

    Shut up and take my money!

  • avatar

    I’ll bet the AMG steering wheel was a total chick magnet.

  • avatar

    I think this car looks really cool. It’s certainly dated to a period in time, but I think it looks great. Too bad the mechanical parts weren’t more exciting, but it’s still neat. If these were ever sold in the USA, I think they would be very popular with the custom car scene.

  • avatar

    I had better opinion of AMG. This car already looked 10 years old in 1991. I know because I lived in 1991 and Taurus was a thing even in Russia. Yeah I mean aero soap bar design.

  • avatar

    Makes the Volvo 740 look like Joi Lansing.

  • avatar

    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.

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