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Carlisle Import Nationals Preview: 1983 Plymouth Sapporo Technika

Jay Ramey May 3, 2013 Car Shows, Cars You Should Know 20 Comments

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If you thought that the was all about European cars…. you were mostly correct. But what the Japanese car contingent lacks in numbers, it more than makes up for in content. Just take a look at this rare Plymouth Sapporo Technika owned by Brad DeSantis, which appeared at the 2012 Carlisle Import Nationals. A little over a year ago Hagerty Insurance commented in Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car that this car was believed to be extinct in America based on the fact that they do not insure a single one. But it appears that a few examples have indeed survived, including this sharp 1983 example.

The Plymouth Sapporo was of course a rebadged Mitsubishi Galant Lambda, which was also sold as the Dodge Challenger in North America while being known as the Mitsubishi Sapporo in Europe. Even though the model was available from 1976 till 1984 in most markets, in the US the model was only sold from 1978 till 1983. The current owner purchased this Sapporo from a friend on the west coast who found it in a junkyard in running condition, and mostly complete.

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This car is not as extinct as some would believe, but according to Brad that assessment is not too far off. He knows of just a few other surviving and half-surviving examples, but it’s hard to come up with a complete picture since most stateside Sapporo owners are not part of a larger Sapporo community. In essence, most running examples in the US are still believed to belong to owners who are relatively meh about Sapporo ownership, and hardly suspect that they have something rare.

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Brad’s example is actually the rare Technika package, which means that the car came with a black hood and roof and had a few other distinguishing details on the inside. The Dodge version of this car differed very little from the Plymouth variant, and neither was obviously a strong seller despite good reviews, but the Plymouth is the version that was designed to appeal to luxury car buyers. Who it actually appealed to at the time is a matter of some debate, but as one would expect the west coast was its primary market.

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Brad has kept this car pretty much in stock condition since buying it for just a few hundred dollars about a year ago, and reports that the electronic voice announcing open doors and other news events still works perfectly. “Its a very small car with a big 2.6 ‘Silent Shaft’ Mitsubishi inline4, plenty of torque for an old four cylinder and a very entertaining chassis in the twisty roads. The car has 59k miles on it now that I have driven it one thousand miles to and from Carlisle and on a weekend camping trip to Maine and has been reliable as the day is long.”

So there, the Carlisle Import show isn’t just about Kenosha-built Renaults. And while the survival rate of Japanese cars on the right coast pales in comparison to the left coast, you can still see some rare survivors at Carlisle.

Massive gallery from Carlisle 2012 below (no drooling on keyboards!)

[Images: Copyright 2013 Redusernab/Jay Ramey]

  • Is this the junkyard survivor? If it is, I appreciate it even more.

    • Jay_Ramey

      It is indeed. I think Brad mentioned that only a couple things were missing, but other than that it was pretty much in this condition. Minus the wheels, which I think are temporary.

      • Com126

        I hope the wheels arent temporary. It looks amazing with them.

        • Brad D.

          Temporary but still on there. Have a set of 15×7 +4 offset Watanabes in dark gunmetal. that will look way more era correct when I scrape together some cash for tires.

    • Brad D.

      Yes it is julkinen. This is the one found by 'HillBillyHector' from Japanese Nostalgic Car in a scrap yard in Cali.

  • TurboBrick

    Does the rear glass roll down or is it fixed?

    • It should be a true hardtop.

    • JeffieWasHere

      Yup, and there is no B pillar.

  • I Think Not

    My family has owned far more captive imports than most people I've known. All of the Chryslubishis were purchased new.

    – 1986 Plymouth Colt Vista
    – 1988 Dodge RAM50
    – 1991 Dodge Colt Vista (I was really angry they bought this instead of the Caravan, which I thought was SO cool).
    – 1996 Geo Prizm

    The Ram was my first vehicle. In 1998, my dad bought himself a 1993 Accord EX Wagon and handed me the keys to the Ram. It was the shortbed standard cab, and a fun little dirt road stormer with no power steering and a carb'd 4G63 with all of 90hp hooked up to a 5 speed with really short gearing.

    The Prizm was bought for me to drive to college in 2001 because my mother was frightened I'd break down on the lonely 2 lane between Columbus, GA and Macon, GA, where there was zero cell service at the time. It had the soul-sucking 1.6L 4AFE and 3 speed auto, which means I pretty much always accelerated at WOT.

    • Jay_Ramey

      Wow, that IS a lot of captive imports.

      Those Prizmzmzms disappeared pretty quickly I recall. Some of my friends got new ones in high school, and 4 years later it was impossible to find one on the street.

      • I'm chuckling aloud at Mr. Prizmzmzms.

      • dukeisduke

        The Prizms are just Corollas, built on the same assembly line at NUMMI, in Fremont. They're usually priced lower than Corollas on CL and other online site, but just as good as same-year Corollas. A friend of mine was looking for a late 90s Corolla, but ended up buying a Prizm instead, because it was so much cheaper.

  • My poxy little trinket was featured in a Finnish classics magazine this month. That should keep me motivated.

    <img src="; width="700">

    • Jay_Ramey

      Daaang, congrats sir!

  • JeffieWasHere

    I owned a 1983 Technika. I thought the black hood and roof were stupid, because it made the interior hot, but looked good. Mine didn't have air-con, so the four windows rolling down was a . Digital dash, talking warning system ("Your door is ajar", "No, car. It is a door"), and a killer sound system for this price point were great for the gadget lover in me. It also had "silver" cloth with black pleather and red accents for the seats. I got rid of it after a year because the frame was rusting through. But man, what a year that was.

  • vwminispeedster

    For a sec I thought this was a "Mercury Capri" fox bodied mustang. I really dig this car.

  • dukeisduke

    It's sad to say, but the old Mitsubishis like this are much better built and more reliable than their later stuff.

  • Brad D.

    Just one correction to the article, I am into it for a fair bit more than a few hundred dollars. It was bought from the yard cheaply, but wheels tires and cross country shipping I purchased it for a bit more than that.

  • chapel976

    He also has an NSU 1200… a Starion… a few other weird ass things. we all hate his ass with our jealousy.

  • wcmaughan

    I just came across this blog; I had an '83 Challenger Technica 5 speed, what a fantastic car it was. I'd like another one just like it but there are so few survivors anywhere in the states apparently. Any suggestions on where one might look besides the obvious? I've exhausted ebay/craigslist, etc. Thanks.

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