By on October 4, 2021

1982 Plymouth Sapporo in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsChrysler began importing rebadged Mitsubishis to North America starting with the Colt in the 1971 model year, with more models being added as the decade progressed. By 1976, Plymouth shoppers could buy a Mitsubishi Lancer Celeste as the sporty Arrow; Plymouth Arrow and Dodge D-50 (later Ram 50) pickups, based on the Mitsubishi Forte, showed up here in 1979. So that those Dodge/Plymouth dealers would have a small personal luxury coupe to sell, the Japanese-market Galant Lambda hardtop was pressed into American service as the Dodge Challenger and Plymouth Sapporo for 1978. Sales continued through 1983, and I’ve found one of those final Sapporos in a yard south of Denver, Colorado.

1982 Plymouth Sapporo in Colorado junkyard, emblem - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThese machines haven’t been terribly difficult to find in car graveyards, though I certainly saw more of them a decade ago. So far, I’ve documented this ’78 Sapporo, another ’78 Sapporo, this ’81 Challenger, this ’82 Sapporo, and this ’82 Sapporo. Mitsubishi began importing vehicles under its own badging starting in late 1982.

1982 Plymouth Sapporo in Colorado junkyard, hardtop windows - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe 1978-1982 Challenger/Sapporo was a true hardtop, and it came stuffed with the same sort of snazzy features normally found in much pricier machinery. List price on the ’82 Sapporo was $8,043, while the MSRP of the ’82 Chrysler Cordoba hardtop started at $8,258 (about $23,330 and $23,960 today, respectively).

1982 Plymouth Sapporo in Colorado junkyard, engine - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsAt that price, the Cordoba came with a 90-horsepower Slant-6 engine to drag its 3,315 pounds down the avenue (the 318-cubic-inch V8 and its 130 horses cost a well-worth-it additional 70 bucks). The Sapporo got this 2.6-liter Astron four-cylinder, rated at 105 horsepower, and it weighed a mere 2,410 pounds. That made this car respectably quick by the standards of the time.

1982 Plymouth Sapporo in Colorado junkyard, intake manifold - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe Astron went into so many Chrysler and Mitsubishi vehicles over the decades (including some K-cars that got big HEMI 2.6 fender badges) that junkyard shoppers often grab parts from them. Perhaps this car’s cylinder head now lives on in a Montero or Conquest.

1982 Plymouth Sapporo in Colorado junkyard, interior - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe interior is grimy and the upholstery has become quite crunchy thanks to relentless Colorado sunshine, so I doubt much of this stuff will be sold before the car faces the cold steel jaws of The Crusher.

1982 Plymouth Sapporo in Colorado junkyard, MCA-Jet sticker - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsMitsubishi was very proud of the MCA-JET high-swirl fuel-delivery system, which was sort of a simplified version of Honda’s CVCC rig, and applied these stickers accordingly.

1982 Plymouth Sapporo in Colorado junkyard, radio - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsUnusually for 1982, the Sapporo came with an AM/FM radio as standard equipment. When a company makes consumer electronics (not to mention fighter jets and heavy-lift rocket boosters) in addition to cars, there’s plenty of off-the-shelf audio hardware to put in those cars at a low cost.

1982 Plymouth Sapporo in Colorado junkyard, interior - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe future is here now!

1982 Plymouth Sapporo in Colorado junkyard, Tube Sand - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsIf you’re too cheap to buy winter tires for your rear-wheel-drive car, there’s always tube-sand for the trunk.

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The JDM version got some seriously cool package-shelf speakers.

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For links to more than 2,100 additional Junkyard Finds, including lots of Mitsubishis, please visit the Junkyard Home of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™.

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27 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1982 Plymouth Sapporo...”

  • avatar

    I owned a 1983 Sapporo Technica in 1988 for about a year, and I loved every minute of it. Engine was definitely good speed for it’s time. It had a manual and cruise, so it did highways well. Gas mileage was decent in the 25mpg range.

    I’ll miss these when they are gone. Almost makes me want to play the lottery so I at least have a chance for enough disposable cash to snag one.

    • 0 avatar
      Ol Shel

      Jeeze, you’ll have to wait for the jackpot to rise above $1200 before you play. No telling when that may happen! (These are neat cars. Almost every RWD Japanese car has something going for it. It’s not always obvious until they’re sitting correctly on the right wheels and tires)

  • avatar

    Co-worker friend had one when I was in college in the very early 90’s. Had a surfboard on top 365 days a year. It was in horrific physical condition, but I rode in it a few times and it rode pretty nice. The engines had balance shafts, kind of novel at the time, and it was indeed very smooth.

    • 0 avatar

      they called it “silent shaft”. I find it sad they used to be pretty innovative and now are so irrelevant in passenger cars.

      • 0 avatar

        Surprised at the decline of Mitsubishi’s reputation. Cars aside, they make a lot of excellent stuff…quite a diverse group of products too…makes me think of Yamaha – they make (or made) a lot of cool stuff. I always buy late 70s/early 80s Yamaha receivers when I stumble upon them…

      • 0 avatar

        I read somewhere in mainstream automotive publications back then that Porsche tried to engineer a balance shaft that worked as well or better than the one Mitsubishi had developed and patented, and they gave up and just paid Mitsubishi royalties on the balance shafts they installed on the 3 liter 944 motor. It’s been a long time, I wonder if it’s a true story. Slightly amusing if it is since Porsche is a renowned engineering company.

      • 0 avatar

        The Silent Shaft four was a pretty big deal, important on large displacement fours like the 2.6. Early Hyundais used Mitsubishi-designed engines, which explains why some of their newer fours not designed by Mitsubishi still employ them.

  • avatar

    The 1979 ad up there is one of my favorite car ads. The disco jazz, the woman dressed up enjoying the breeze. Could be a jewelry commercial since the car is only shown at the end. And it’s complete with opera lamp.

  • avatar

    Also, trivia point: This was the very last American branded hardtop coupe.

  • avatar

    This always seemed like a weird Mustang that someone drew from memory.

    • 0 avatar
      Ol Shel

      “I resemble that remark” -1971 Celica

      Many Japanese designs were ‘inspired’ by American cars. My favorite might be the mini-’70s Charger called Datsun 610.

  • avatar

    That was my kind of car back in those days. I didn’t own one of those but I had a ’74 Corona 2dr hardtop. Those kinds of cars looked great with the glass all down. It’s too bad we don’t have that look any more.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    Great styling on these. I was on autotempest with a broad 1980-1992 search and a mint under 30k Sapporo was for sale for over 20k. Good luck with that.

    Regarding the tube sand, my old G37s with Michelin winters and a 70ish lbs bag of tube sand in the trunk was damn near unstoppable in the snow. I got up a steep grade up to my office covered with about 5-6 inches of unplowed snow.I think my car being a manual helped alot to keep torque at a minimum

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I think I’ve said this before, but the Challenger version of this holds the rare distinction of a car built in my lifetime that completely stumped me as to what it was when spotted in the wild. And then also for being completely unknown to me as to ever having existed. I’d have REALLY been baffled if I looked and saw the Sapporo badge instead.
    I saw it 10 or 12 years ago in Leon’s, an old-car junkyard in the Culpeper VA area.

  • avatar

    Every pillarless hardtop is cool. Them’s the rules.

  • avatar

    Those wheels always remind me of the wheel covers that Ford Econoline’s got in the mid-late 80’s into the early 90’s. Nearly identical.

  • avatar

    I remember going with a friend in 1978 to a Dodge dealer to look at the Challenger (okay, and custom vans), and to a Chrysler-Plymouth dealer to look at the Sapporo. I preferred the somewhat-sporty Challenger to the disco-plush Sapporo. He didn’t buy either, but instead a lightly-used ’78 Cutlass Supreme with the ubiquitous Olds 260 V8.

  • avatar

    Don’t think I’ve ever seen one of these on the road and didn’t even know it existed.

    Look an awful lot like a Mercury Capri/Fox Mustang of the same era.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    It has been at least 30 years since I have seen one of these of the road and during their heyday they were as rare as hen’s teeth.

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