The Mitsubishi GTO (or 3000GT, depending on where you are) is rarely spoken about in the same breath as its 1990s contemporaries. The Honda NSX is lauded as one of the era’s all-time great supercars, while the likes of the Nissan GT-R, Toyota Supra and Mazda RX-7 sent the tuning scene into overdrive. The GTO always seemed to play second fiddle to the Lancer Evolution, thanks in part to the fierce Evo vs Impreza rivalry born on the world rally stage.
That’s a pity, really, because it’s many of the technologies featured on the GTO would take years to transfer over to the supercar world. Adaptive dampers, adjustable exhaust valves, rear-wheel steering and active aerodynamics at the front and rear are all items that’d been seen on other production cars, but never before had they all been bought together in one package – especially in the name of performance. All are commonplace in today’s crop of supercars, but this level of computing power back in the 1990s was astonishing.
Not all GTOs and 3000GTs are the same, though. This being a 90s Japanese performance car means there are an infinite number of variants, with sportier models getting turbocharged engines and wild styling, while the gadgetry was phased out as the decade progressed to shrink production costs. There was, however, one model that did away with all the electronics to shift the focus back towards the driver. The MR is about as close to a lightweight model in the GTO lineup gets, with the removal of the active suspension, aero, ABS and four-wheel steering shedding around 40kg over the all-singing and dancing VR4. The result is a car that looks just like any other GTO, only it now with a completely different character behind the wheel.
With the gadgetry out of the way, the engine dominates the experience. The MR gets the most potent motor of the range, a 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged V6, developing an ‘official’ 280hp – in line with gentleman’s agreement between Japanese carmakers in the 1990s. However, this was considered a conservative figure as the hefty VR4 could muster a 0-60mph time of 5.4 seconds. Besides, most engines built during this era were reliably capable of considerably higher outputs if the temptation to tune strikes.
That’s all well and good, but what’s the point of buying a GTO if it doesn’t have all the tricks? First of all, the regular GTO’s gadgetry is arguably the least reliable aspect of the car, with some owners choosing to run their cars passively when the systems fail. Secondly, while there’s novelty value in having rear wheels that point in the opposite direction to the fronts, technology always has a habit of dating a car. Take it out of the equation completely and you’re left with a punchy GT that’s (probably) more rewarding to drive than tech-laden original.
In that sense, the MR appears to kill two birds with one stone. It’s the most driver-focused car of the GTO/3000GT range and does away with the bits that are likely to cause a few reliability-induced headaches. Moreover, the GTO MR was only sold in Japan, with fresh imports like this example typically being free of rust. Couple that with an odometer reading of just 33,000 miles and the £26,995 starts to make sense. Granted, that’s still pricey for a GTO, but those on the hunt for a pristine example that (hopefully) won’t come to bite them later down the line need look no futher…
SPECIFICATION | MITSHUBISHI GTO MR
Engine: 2,972cc V6, twin-turbo
Transmission: 6-speed manual, all-wheel drive
Power (hp): 280@6,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 315@2,500rpm
Year registered: 1998
Recorded mileage: 33,000
Price new: N/A
Yours for: £26,995
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