The Dodge Stealth Was Nothing but a Reskinned Mitsubishi 3000GT
The most exciting product of Chrysler and Mitsubishi’s partnership that began in the 1970s was the Dodge Stealth. Despite being a restyled Mitsubishi 3000GT, the Stealth injected excitement into Dodge’s aging lineup of K-car variants like the Dynasty until the Viper was ready. The Stealth was a terrific car boasting advanced technology and supercar-like performance. Though it lasted only a few years, the Stealth has amassed a cult following and still makes a statement wherever it goes.
A brief history of the Dodge Stealth
Chrysler and Mitsubishi have a shared history that dates back almost 50 years. Starting with the Dodge Colt in the 1970s, Chrysler began importing Mitsubishi cars and trucks, including the Dodge Challenger/Plymouth Sapporo, Chrysler Conquest, Dodge Raider, and Ram 50. That captive import pipeline resulted from Chrysler buying a 15% stake in Mitsubishi Motors, which proved beneficial to both companies. Chrysler got immediate access to smaller, more economical cars, and Mitsubishi got a foothold in the U.S. market.
In 1983, Mitsubishi began importing vehicles under its name and worked with Chrysler to open a new manufacturing plant in Normal, Illinois. Called Diamond Star Motors, the plant produced the Mitsubishi Eclipse, Eagle Talon, and Plymouth Laser, as well as the Mitsubishi Galant, Plymouth Breeze, Dodge Avenger, Dodge Stratus, and Chrysler Sebring.
Produced in Japan, the Dodge Stealth was a Mitsubishi 3000GT with styling by Chrysler. Launched in 1990, it shared barely any body panels with the 3000GT, but it was all Mitsubishi inside and under the hood. That means it didn’t have a big V8 engine but got Mitsubishi’s 3.0-liter V6, ranging in flavors from a mild 160 hp to an extra-hot 320-hp twin turbo.
One thing that makes the Dodge Stealth stand out is its four trim levels. While Mitsubishi made do with three trims, Dodge gave customers a choice among a base model, a mid-level ES, a performance-oriented R/T, and a range-topping R/T Turbo, HotCars reports.
Though the base model and ES were sporty-looking coupes, the R/T Turbo brought the heat and was a serious performance car.
How serious? Combined with all-wheel drive, the twin-turbo V6 gave the Dodge Stealth a 0-to-60-mph time of 5.2 seconds. It ran a 13.6-second quarter-mile with a 98-mph trap speed and topped out at over 155 mph. Those numbers might seem middling today, but they were seriously fast in 1990.
Chrysler’s deal with Mitsubishi
In 1993, Chrysler sold its share of Mitsubishi back to the company but continued sharing models and the Diamond Star assembly line in Illinois. Mitsubishi was gaining attention, winning awards, and garnering market share against automakers like Honda, Nissan, and Toyota. Chrysler was riding a second wave of a resurgence with products like the Dodge Intrepid, the Dodge Viper, a new Dodge Ram truck, and a family of minivans. But both companies still recognized their partnership’s synergies (to use a ’90s business phrase) and continued producing cars together throughout the 1990s.
Unfortunately, although the Dodge Stealth launched to great acclaim, sales began dropping almost immediately. The high-tech, made-in-Japan Dodge clashed with the company’s image, which featured the brute-force Viper as its halo car. It also didn’t help that prices increased significantly by the mid-’90s due to the Japanese yen’s rising value. Those factors led Dodge to say sayonara to the Stealth after the 1996 model year.
Dodge Stealth: Styling by Chrysler, engineering by Mitsubishi
It’s hard to appreciate how advanced the Dodge Stealth was in its day. Chrysler developed the styling in a wind tunnel using a computer-aided design. It had a .33 drag coefficient, which was extremely smooth for its day. For comparison, that’s the same drag coefficient as a Lamborghini Murcielago, which entered production in 2001.
But the technology really made the Stealth stand out. The R/T Turbo included AWD and a six-speed manual transmission. Customers could order it with active aero front and rear spoilers, an active adjustable suspension, and four-wheel steering. To date, the only U.S. domestic car to include some of those features is the Chevrolet Corvette. As for early-’90s models, only one other vehicle offered all those sophisticated features: the Mitsubishi 3000GT.