In 1970, Mitsubishi launched the Mitsubishi Colt Galant GTO (Gran Turismo Omologato) as the flagship hardtop variant of the Colt Galant sedan. It was manufactured by the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.
The exterior design of the Colt Galant GTO was finalized by Hiroaki Kamisago, who had studied at the Art College of Design in Pasadena, California. Perhaps, for this reason, there were many designing cues in GTO that integrated several stylistic cues taken from the modern American muscle cars such as Mustang, Firebird and Cougar featuring a long hood, raised cut-off ducktail rear and circular quad-headlamps and tail lamps. The Galant GTO was based on pillarless design with fully roll-down side windows.
The Colt Galant GTO was so designed by the Mitsubishi Racing Development (also known as Colt Speed) so as to compete in the popular JCCA Grand Prix circuit. In 1973, the OPEC oil embargo forced the end of GP racing and GTO race program was shattered, yet the GTO had done well in Rallying such as the popular Japanese Alpine Rally.
In the beginning, three Colt Galant GTO models were introduced and all of them came with the Saturn engine, i.e. M1 (1600 cc SOHC, 4-speed), M2 (1600 cc SOHC, 5-speed) and the top-spec MR (1600 cc twin-carb, DOHC 5-speed). It was offered only in Japanese domestic market with 125 hp (93 kW).
The powerplants of Colt Galant GTO was upgraded by Mitsubishi in 1972 with Astron engines. The upgraded range now had a LS (2000 cc single-carb, automatic transmission), GS (2000 cc twin-carb, 5-speed manual) and GS-R (2000 cc twin-carb, 5-speed manual). Some minor changes were also made to make them distinct from one another, for instance, a one-piece slats-type grille and three-piece tail lights were added. The GS-R version featured wider 185-section tires, flared guards, and a black-painted rear panel situated between lights.
In 1974, the vehicle received some more changes as it now had a honeycomb-style front grille. The last production units of Colt Galant GTO received an Astron 80 engine alongside Mitsubishi’s Silent Shaft system. In December 1976, the long production run of the GTO came to end when Mitsubishi replaced it with Galant Lambda/Sapporo.
Colt Galant GTO was relatively less common in the export market as the company prefer not to offer it in export market. However, it was still exported in lesser amount to some Asian countries and New Zealand.
GTO Name Revived
In 1977, the company completely halted the production of Colt Galant GTO. However, the name GTO had some deep roots in Mitsubishi’s long production history and enticed them to reuse it for flagship Mitsubishi GTO sports GT in 1990. But it was renamed as Mitsubishi 3000GT to avoid being objected for using the name that is pretty close to the then 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO and 1964 Pontiac GTO.