The Carchive: The Colt (Mitsubishi) Tredia

I’ve looked into the psychology behind the hoarding that has lead to The Carchive being created. If it was information I sought, there are infinite alternative sources I could have turned to. The Internet, for one – books, for another. I turn to the latter whenever I seek a fresh perspective on things: In many cases I have several books that cover the same subject, but with sufficiently different approaches that prevent me from sending any of them to the charity shop.
Brochures are another story, though. They tell the story as told from the perspective of the showroom, baiting the hook, casting the line and hoping to reel buyers in. In many cases, they outlive the cars that they’re trying to sell, and this is where collecting the brochures comes in. You see, there’s something inside me that yearns to keep history no at no further than arm’s reach. It’s probably a window into my own insecurity that I feel most comfortable surrounded by the cosy familiarity of recent history. Like hearing a favourite old song or revisiting the same holiday destinations year on year.
Anyway. This week it’s time to look at the virtually extinct Colt Tredia. Welcome back to The Carchive

All images can be clicked for enlargement and greater legibility

“The major problem for today’s car designers is how to produce a car which meets today’s stringent economy requirements – yet provides genuinely sporting performance, together with compact, stylish lines and 4-door, 5 seat spaciousness.”
You may be familiar with It’s a website that draws on data from the UKs Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) to determine how many of each car type ever committed to Britain’s vehicle log-books remain on the licensing database. Unfortunately, due to all manner of variation – laziness on the part of the dealer that initially registered the car for use on the road, or vaguenesses that can see automatic cars registered with no note of a self-shifter being fitted. Whatever – they say that Colt or Mitsubishi Tredias, of any type, are virtually extinct on British road. It reckons that, for several years, there were zero on the database. Today, for some reason, there’s one – registered ‘SORN’ (Statutory Off Road Notification – the car exists but isn’t licensed for road use). This here is a formidably rare car.
And, frankly, rightly so. The Tredia was one of the ’80s most forgettable Japanese cars. It was an odd size – bigger than a Lancer but smaller than a Galant, and shared much of the Colt (Mirage) mechanical package. This included the 4-speedX2 Super Shift twin-ratio gearbox, available with all three engine choices. Speaking of which, there was the 1400 and 1600 normally aspirated mills, with a less than breathtaking 68 and 74hp a piece, but there was also the rather more potent Turbo, with a relatively impressive 116bhp.

“The 1600 Turbo model is worth a special mention. There is no doubt that it is a more sophisticatedly sporting car than the average turbocharged vehicle”
In September ’83, when this brochure was printed, that was a fairly bold claim. Turbocharging was well and truly all the rage. Renault had embraced it to their collective bosom in the 5, 9,11, 18 and Fuego, Audi, Saab and Porsche were doing pretty impressive things with it, and there was the MG Metro Turbo, too. Okay, that last one might well give Mitsubishi a solid case. But hey, look at the Tredia Turbo. It has alloy wheels  and an intake on the bonnet. It clearly means business.
And it has TURBO embroidered boldly on the seats, front and rear. There’s a TURBO bodystripe and red TURBO badge on the bootlid. It’s all very TURBO, yet there’s no boost gauge – something that was de riguer elsewhere, lest the driver forget that he was driving a car with the most fashionable induction system you could buy. Fortunately, there’s a red TURBO emblem on the colossal “leather”-wrapped steering wheel.
Contemporary reports were that the Tredia Turbo was a little ragged in terms of how it delivered its 116bhp, and perhaps it’s a reason that they failed to grab a particularly significant slice of the UK market. There was rust, too. Still, a curiously handsome looking thing, with its black cabin air-extraction vents below the pillars – I’d have been tempted to fake a few more with black insulating tape for that ’80s concept car aesthetic. And any car with a separate cassette deck is a winner.
(All images are of original manufacturer publicity material, photographed by me. Copyright remains property of Mitsubishi. I can only presume that either the photographers aren’t plane-savvy, or that there was no Mitsubishi A6M Zero available. Nice Harvard Texan, though. )

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8 responses to “The Carchive: The Colt (Mitsubishi) Tredia”

  1. Van_Sarockin Avatar

    A friend just junked his Colt. It wasn’t so much the gas tank filler tube collapsing that did it, so much as the widespread structural rot from road salt. But it had been in constant use since about 1980, and street parked in a dense neighborhood for the past ten years. You just can’t find a new car at all like it anymore.

    1. outback_ute Avatar

      I saw an immaculate one street parked here a couple of years ago, but we don’t have salt on the roads. It was only a few blocks from the (salt) water though.

  2. Maymar Avatar

    Speaking of Zero*, you’d think Mitsubishi wouldn’t be so eager for you to draw the connection between them and WWII planes.
    I don’t know my planes so much, but I’m sure that’s not actually a Zero in the brochure. Bear with me.

    1. dukeisduke Avatar

      In the 1970 film “Tora! Tora! Tora!”, AT-6 Texans with cut-down vertical stabilizers, supplied by the then-Confederate Air Force (now the more politically correct Commemorative Air Force) stood in for the Mitsubishi Zeroes.

      1. mdharrell Avatar

        Since the one in the brochure is RAF, isn’t it more properly a Harvard, not a Texan, as Chris indicated?

  3. dukeisduke Avatar

    Funny how they went by the name Colt, instead of Mitsubishi. Kind of like a Nova Camaro instead of a Chevrolet Camaro.

    1. outback_ute Avatar

      I think Colt was used initially as the ‘brand’ in a few countries, certainly Australia. Not as long as the UK though.

  4. Rover 1 Avatar
    Rover 1

    I can testify that the transition to boost in the Tredia Turbo was a little unruly, but no worse than a Renault 9/11/Fuego Turbo and with the balance shafted engine, the Mitsi was much smoother.
    A friend of mine had a Tredia Turbo, one of the earliest used JDM cars to be imported into NZ, and always complained about the fuel consumption of his, but then his previous car had been a Daihatsu Charade. And he had a heavy right foot, as his front tyre wear showed. The turbos were quite quick for their day, locally made here by Todd Motors, the Tredia and Cordia twins were the fastest cars to have been manufactured, up til that point, in NZ at the time.
    The styling was, like all Mitsubishis at that time, designed/extensively influenced/project led by Aldo Sessano and his design consultancy Open Design, some other people who worked under Sessano at Open Design were Enrico Fumia, Paul Bruer, Aldo Garnero, and Mike Robinson. The other Sessano designed Mitsubishis were, pretty much ALL the good looking ones, with the crisp ‘Pininfarina’ influence channelled through Sessano, quite obvious, specially when compared to some of the ‘baroque’ Japanese opposition.
    Those rear vents were a trope also used on one of his other designs, not for Mitsubishi, the SEAT1200/1430 Sport. Much discussion at the time speculated that the rear vents on the ‘Bocanegra’ were because the car was based on the discarded NSU Nergal proposal by Sessano that was to reclothe the Prinz. I think that your reasoning is likely more accurate, it looks ‘technical’.
    SEAT 1200 Bocanegra
    NSU Nergal