Tri-Diamond Days: 38k-mile 1988 Mitsubishi Galant Sigma LX


I love you, ebay motors.

Only there do impossibly immaculate twenty-something year old cars show up with fifty high resolution photographs documenting every angle inside and out.

Who cares if a presumably tiny percentage of ebay motors auctions actually result in a sale, given how legally non-binding the format is?

It's the world's best and mot entertaining car show, and it never ends.


Such is the case with this ridiculously pristine 1988 Mitsubishi Galant. I didn't even know there was a Galant in '88. When most Americans think of a Galant, they think of a dinged up economy car from the 90s and 00s that their neighbor is driving into the ground. No better, no worse, and (perhaps most fatal) no more interesting than your average Taurus, Camry of Accord.

That's how most Japanese cars were in the 1990s. Manufacturers cut costs and dumbed their cars down. And the American middle class bought them in droves.

In the 1980s, however, there was clearly a much different school of thought reigning. Japanese manufacturers were still emerging and competing on a relatively even playing field. Any car could become what the Camry and Accord have become today (which is, unfortunately, still nothing great, and now just overpriced). Their cars offered efficient engines, a plethora of interior gadgets and chiclet buttons to satisfy even the most geeky of tech-heads, and solid build quality all at affordable prices. Stylists were designing the cars if they were still auditioning for a background spot in Blade Runner. There was just something cool and slightly avant garde about them I can't quite put my finger on. Is it details like the latticework rear taillights? Or the overall obsession with rectangular shape forms? There is something at once generic and yet infinitely ornate about them.


Mitsubishi clearly felt they were on to something with the Galant, especially for 1988. The nameplate has been used for nine generations of cars. This is a fifth generation example, which were produced from 1983-1989. It was also the first Galant to feature front-wheel drive, which it has remained (although 4WD has been an option). This example is nicely powered by a 3.0-litre 6-cylinder engine.

The seller of this example is a dealer, so we're sadly not privy to any kind of loving story one would expect from the original owner of a 1988 Galant with only 38,992 miles on it.


However, the dealer does say the vehicle runs and drives great and has never been "smoked in" (just how do they know that, anyways?). They say the body is straight, the paint glossy and there is absolutely no rust.

The vehicle really begs for a big confessional by the original owner. Just who barely drives their 1988 Mitsubishi Galant over the span of  24 years? And when they did drive it, they never smoked in it, trashed it, crashed it, or drove it excessively on wet salty roads. Job well done.

I rarely say this about the cars I blog about to avoid being cliche (even though I secretly believe it), but this thing really does belong in a modern car museum, maybe one that specializes in Japanese cars. Is there even such a thing? Before you blink, there might not be any 5th generation Galants left.

Fortunately, I have a feeling this one will be around for a long time. And that makes me very happy.

Find it here on ebay in Philadelpha, Pennsylvania for a buy it now of $7,995 and a the make an offer option.

3 comments:

  1. "NEVER SMOKED-IN" = it didn't wreak of tobacco smell when we got into it.

    This design was very 80's, inside and out. I guess one can argue if that would be considered a good thing or not. The V6 only came with the automatic, so there's not use complaining about that. The Sigma was supposed to be more luxurious anyway.

    In fact, Mitsubishi's effort to push the Galant upmarket (re-christening it the Galant Sigma) wasn't a secret. Ultimately, they decided to keep the Galant (no sigma) in the mid-size family sedan market, and introduce the decidedly upmarket Diamante. Probably a good decision, since it's hard to change public perceptions of an existing nameplate.

    Why does it seem like these low-mileage time capsule cars are so often white?

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  2. Hello all, from David Ed in New Zealand, a car historian and enthusiast, and one-time journalist.

    The car referred to here is the Mitsubishi Galant Hardtop, also marketed in Japan as the Mitsubishi Eterna Hardtop. It was offered in some other markets as the Sapporo Hardtop or the Galant Sigma Hardtop. Although never catalog-offered new in this country, there were some subsequent imports directly from Japan.

    Although the more pedestrian, pillared sister car the Galant saloon (also badged as Eterna or Sigma, depending on market and dealership) was introduced in 1983, the Hardtop version didn't make its appearance until 1984 and was not marketed nearly as extensively. I have owned examples of both saloon and hardtop in the past, including a 1.8-litre Galant Sigma saloon, and two Hardtops - one of these a 2.0 CS, the other a Cyclone Dash turbo model.

    The Hardtop, which was one step down from the flagship Debonair model, was offered in a number of engine and gearbox variations, from a 2.0-litre carburettered four through to a 3.0-litre V6 and at the top of the range was the 3x2 Sirius Dash intercooled 2.0 turbo VR model, featuring an extensive array of luxury extras. The upholstery was extremely plush (see: http://carphotos.cardomain.com/ride_images/3/3010/3589/32524294031_original.jpg?v=0), in buttoned velour.

    In 1986, as was the case across the Mitsubishi range the Sirius engine gave way to the Cyclone powerplant, and the turbo model was then referred to as the Cyclone Dash 3x2. Mine was a manual and was extremely quick, although it was speed limited - I had my governer temporarily disconnected, but I reactivated it when I discovered that the cruise control would not work in its absence.

    Domestic production ceased in 1988, replaced by the sixth-deneration Galant (the VR was replaced by the new Galant saloon VR4 and the new Galant/Eterna liftback ZR4, though in terms of market position its true replacement was the Diamante of 1990, another car I owned (a 3.0 V6 auto) back in the late 1990s and greatly enjoyed.

    As to the question as to why these cars were so often seen in white, back in the 1980s most Japanese new car buyers preferred to buy white cars and around 80% of cars on the road were white. This changed in the 1990s, when silver and grey cars tended to dominate the nation's roads. Since no local assembly of Galant Hardtops took place outside of Japan (to my knowledge, anyway), sources of supply would have been by direct import from Japan, where color choice was somewhat limited. Having said that, the VR Sirius Dash 3x2 model was commonly seen in two-tone dark blue to the bumperline and silver below. Also, I have seen CS models in both maroon and silver.

    Sadly, it has been quite some time since I have seen one still on the road.

    davidedlin@xtra.co.nz

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  3. Looked up the specs at http://www.automobile-catalog.com/car/1988/1922330/mitsubishi_sigma.html

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