Used Car Reviews – 1987 Mitsubishi Galant E15

I recently had to lead a Mitsubishi-free life for a while, as my 1990 Sapporo spent over a month in an auto shop due to difficulties with parts availability. But instead of taking a holiday from Mitsus, I decided to get to know the humbler Galant version of the same basic architecture slightly better. It’s about perspective, as the Sapporo is basically a fully loaded luxury version of the Galant, and as I’ve tried to rectify the Sapporo’s imperfections for over a year now it might well be that I can’t see its virtues that clearly any more. For a while it felt like a cumbersome square peg in a round hole, when this frosty town showed me I could do with a less complicated car.

The exact models I had in my sights were two 1987 Galants with the 1600cc base engine and entry-level GL trim. I wanted to see if a simpler car was a more satisfying choice. Here I had a sand-coloured sedan seen on the street and a denim blue one I took for a drive.

All thin pillars and smooth sides, the sand-coloured one shows the glass house architecture nicely. There are coin-sized steel wheels, huge black bumpers, minimalistic detailing. It does look like a grandfather’s car.

I’ve looked at this Galant every now and then, as it’s parked next to the entrance to the garage where I’ve shot a lot of cars. It’s been snow-covered a number of times I’ve passed it, and I don’t think it’s driven much. It doesn’t look like there’s that big of a reading on the odo, either.

The Galant has been rust-proofed, but it could still do with a little rust removal as a couple of corners are browning. It would make a nice youngtimer classic, comparable to well-kept Jettas for example.

But before I would let myself consider a Galant, I’d need to drive one –  and for that purpose, I scouted out this blue sedan.

For sale for a grand, it’s a 120 000 km car. It has a full service history and looked tidy in the ad. While the brown car has been registered in the Vasa region, this car is from the more northern Oulu region; neither are Lapland cars, though, and it shows on the blue Mitsubishi quite clearly as the road salt has eaten into the wheelarches. They don’t salt the roads too much in the Arctic Circle, but way down south they do.

And we’re through the metal here. The passenger side fender has been repaired once already, but again has a hole. To my understanding the Galants used different quality steel than Sapporos, and rust more easily. I’d compare them to Italian cars; fix one end and the other is rotten again. A guy on the Finnish Mitsu forum is restoring his with sections made from stainless steel, to solve the problem.

But it’s on the inside where the base model Galant really knees you in the groin. There’s simply nothing there. The seats are flimsier, the dash is harder. While the Sapporo and higher-echelon Galants utilize a perfectly weird stereo deck-resembling command console control center on the steering column, on the Galant GL it’s been scrapped completely and instead there is a stump of a column with partsbin stalks and switches peppered around it. If you’re not paying for class, you get none.

To drive the point home, there’s a clock instead of a rev gauge. The steering wheel is thin-rimmed and flimsy, and that steers us into the direction where we will really have to go next. Driving dynamics.

While I did drive the Galant around country roads and not silky smooth tarmac, I was surprised at the lack of body control and finesse. The Galant lurched all over the place. It was difficult to maintain a straight line, as it floated around with the non-assisted but hugely insecure steering giving inadequate feedback. I do hope there was something wrong with this car, as I would definitely not make a daily driver out of it. The Sapporo must’ve spoiled me with the solid feel it offers, but as I drove the Galant I had arrived in my darty 323F, which feels immensely light but also exact on snowy surfaces, something the Galant cannot match. Add hopeless windshield wipers and a totally gutless 75hp engine and I would’ve needed a week to get accustomed to the car.

I didn’t expect the Galant to be the worst car I had ever driven, but it was damned close. It felt bad to behold. Under the hood it was surpisingly clean, but nowhere else. And since it offered zero rewards, there was no incentive to even consider the bodywork repairs it needed. The Sapporo deals you a hard bargain; there are things that need to be fixed and some of them keep annoying me, but in return it gives me a smooth 2.4 engine, an isolated-from-the-elements feel and a comfortable ride – topped off with idiosyncratic gadgets. The Galant felt like a Sapporo with absolutely everything (even fake dashboard stitching) ripped off. New, it cost a third of the price of the Sapporo, but I bought my Sapporo for 300EUR more than this blue Galant costs and to fix, the Galant would need the same amount of funds shoveled into it as the Sapporo has had.

So, here we are: EXCLUSIVE: Base Model Car Disappoints in Comparison to Fully-Loaded Edition. Coming up next: Water’s Wet, Alfas Run Hot.

Images: Copyright 2012 Hooniverse/Antti Kautonen

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