Eclipse Weekend Edition: The Mitsubishi Celeste

If the Eclipse’s reason for existing was to be a reasonably affordable sporty coupe for young buyers, with somewhat straightforward technical solutions, it followed the formula laid down a lot earlier by previous Mitsubishi offerings. I’m very fond of the mid-1970s Mitsubishi Celeste, that relied on Colt/Lancer mechanicals but introduced a very easy-on-the-eye coupe design on top of it all.
The Celeste was offered under a ton of different nameplates and marques around the world, but perhaps focusing on that name serves our vaguely stellar weekend theme the best. Feast your eyes on these period-correct advertisement images.

Viewed side-on, you see the short wheelbase, tall glasshouse and long overhangs that hint of the Celeste’s everyday roots. The 1400cc, 1600cc and 2000cc engines were carried over from even more humble Mitsubishis, the biggest of them offering 105 hp.
But that long tail serves a point other than just looks, as you could most probably cram a good amount of weekend things in the boot.
There’s something Celica-like about the shape, the Celica of the era itself borrowing a few Mustang styling cues. But the triangular extra windows on the C-pillars are absolutely crucial for lightening the design. Boy, do those steelies still look small.
As mentioned, you could get the same car badged as a Plymouth or a Dodge, and the biggest powerplant for those was the 2.6-litre Mitsubishi four-banger, for extra Fire Arrow grunt.
Mounting an airdam on the front makes the Celeste even better-looking in my opinion. And check out those yellow auxiliary lights.
The horse logo on the steering wheel is an unashamed nod to the Mustangs, but for some reason I can’t explain how small 1970s coupes just had absolutely perfect-looking dashboards. So many round dials, a deep-centered sports steering wheel, and a certain feeling of being really tinny and perfectly robust at the same time. It’s the same thing with old Datsuns and Toyotas.
Some Celestes survive even here, having been restored multiple times to defeat the tin worm once and again. I don’t think parts availability is that great, but if it’s only sheetmetal you have to worry about, keeping a Celeste on the road in summertime would be pretty straightforward.
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And here’s a Japanese ad for the Celeste, with some handegg content in the end.

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