The first generation model of the long-running Mitsubishi Lancer was badged as Mitsubishi Lancer (A70). It was produced in 1973 with an aim to cover up the gap between the Minica Kei car and the Galant. It was often regarded as the replacement model for the 1971 Colt 11-F. in 1979, the company ceased the production of sedan version, while the production of the van continued till 1985. The Lancer Celeste sports coupe was also derived from the Lancer and remained in production from 1975 to 1981. All these vehicles were marketed under different names in different markets.
In 1973, the Lancer A70 was introduced as 2- and 4-door sedan. The sedan made a reputation in the rallies. Total of twelve models were introduced that ranged from a basic 1.2-L sedan to a powerful 1600 GSR.
Three different body styles were introduced including 2- and 3-door sedans and hardly seen 5-door station wagon that was launched in September 1973. The 80 hp 1.2-L 4G36 engine replaced the old smallest engine in October 1975. The new standards for emissions and engine displacement for 1976 resulted in the loss of about 89% of the engine powers.
Generally, the Lancer came with three engine variants, such as an OHV 1.2-L Neptune 4G42 with 70 PS (51 kW), an OHC 1.4-L Saturn 4G33 with 92 PS (68 kW) and the larger 1.6-L 4G32 with 100 PS (74 kW). The three models were called the A71, A72 and A73. In September, the 1600GSR was introduced with two Mikuni-made twin-barrel Solex carburetors rated at 110 PS (81 kW) at 6,700 rpm.
A facelift for Japanese models was introduced in the November 1979 replacing the previous L-shaped/upright rear lamps with wide rectangular ones. Front indicators increased in size, new grilles and new bigger rubber bumpers were introduced. In Japan, this generation was named as A140 series and powered by 4G32 engine.
With new emissions standards set for 1978, the company replaced the previous 1.2-L Saturn engine with a new lean-burning MCA-Jet engine, 70 PS Orion G11B 1244cc in April 1977.
Sedan (1600 GSR)
Mitsubishi developed the high-end Mitsubishi Lancer 1600 GSR which was marketed as Colt Lancer 1600 GSR in Europe. The idea behind developing this car was to enhance the capabilities of Mitsubishi in off-road racing, particularly the Safari Rally of Kenya. In Africa, the car gained the title of ‘King of Cars’.
As of rally specs, the 1600 GSR could generate 126 kW (171 PS; 169 hp) at 7800 rpm and torque of 162 Nm (119 lb-ft) at 5500 rpm. However, the street versions of GSR produced 110 PS (81 kW) which was later lowered to 100 PS (74 kW) due to the stricter emissions standards set by the Japanese government for 1976.
Because company didn’t introduce the station wagon version of Lancer EX, the first generation Lancer Van continued to be produced for the home market, while the export began in February 1985. Three different trim levels were offered for the home market including Standard, EL and GL.
A hatchback coupe version called the Mitsubishi Lancer Celeste was revealed in February 1975. The other names used for it were Mitsubishi Celeste and Colt Celeste. However, it was marketed under the name Chrysler Lancer Coupe in Australia; the Dodge Lance Celeste in El Salvador; the Plymouth Arrow in US; and the Dodge Arrow in Canada. It was based on the same Lancer’s wheelbase, i.e. 2340 mm with a length of 4115 mm.
The engine offered included a 1.4-L, 1.6-L and later a relatively bigger 2.0-L engine was added in the lineup. It received two facelift models with minor changes in 1977 and 1978. In November 1977, a high end ‘GT System 80’ was launched. Later in June 1979, ‘2000GT’ was launched with 105 PS (77 kW). In July 1981, the company halted the production for Lancer Celeste and front-wheel Cordia was introduced in 1982 as replacement model.
In addition to Japan, it was also manufactured in Philippines where it had a huge market and marketed from Complete Knock down kits.