[Editor’s note: The article and photographs here are by friend-of-Redusernab Abraham Rodriguez]
Everyone will tell you how the recession has ruined car culture and everything is being scaled back. They’ll tell you how the sports car should make way for the hybrid. I wasn’t that old when I first laid eyes on Mitsubishi’s 1990s flagship, the 3000GT. It too died a slow death in the late 90s carpocolypse. Since that moment I laid my soft, squishy eyes on the shiny red coupe, the memory of our encounter would gnaw at my inner hoon until I eventually bought my own.
With many companies going bankrupt over the past year and a half, most thought Mitsubishi Owner’s Day in 2009 would be the last one. That it would be closing the book on the event just as it closed the design bureau in its corporate headquarters for North America. The company’s been on the rocks for a couple of years. It was even suggested that it pull out of the American market. So when word spread around the internet the event was happening again this summer, I knew I had to make the perilous journey from the East Bay to Southern California. Frodo might’ve walked to Mordor and gotten stabbed a few times, but he had never driven on the I-5.
Leaving the East Bay on Friday night before the Saturday event with a co-pilot in shotgun, we had the misfortune of running into traffic. Time goes quickly when you are stuck behind a Prius with car lengths of empty space beyond. Six hours later we arrived in Cypress with only a scant five hours before it was time to wake up. Thankfully, Mitsubishi’s HQ was literally right down the street because I was on E physically and literally. Regardless, it was time to start the three-diamond party.
Since 1981, the automaker has sold over 4 million vehicles in the United States…and apparently all of them were at MOD. Of course we saw were more Galant sedan lowriders than the Unicorn-like Starions. It was time to see some old friends. Reunited with our Southern comrades, we all huddled around the dyno area as Eric Roehm from FSR pushed out 500 horses and 381 torque on his Stealth twin turbo, which was good for 3rd in the dyno competition. An Evo would take 1st place with 700 hp, 2nd was a 640 hp Galant VR4 and 4th, a 457 horsepower DSM.
It was clear to me by the time I had wandered around and mingled with the vendors, models and stood in line for my free In-N-Out lunch that Mitsubishi had not cut any corners when it came to Owner’s Day. Around 45 vendors were present at MOD this year, with about 1400 enthusiasts in attendance. An estimated 1200 autos were sardined in the automaker’s parking lot. PR extraordinaire Christine Jew explains that the event had been in the works for months, with money set aside at the start of last year. “It’ll definitely happen next year, this is the sixth one and every year it gets bigger. As long as people keep showing up and supporting the brand, we’ll be here”, says Jew.
Having been able to catch up with faces not seen in years, I was happy to be part of this tightly knit enthusiast community. Like at a bar where everyone knows your name, the same could be applied to the 3/S scene. At some point everyone will see pictures of your Imola Red ’92 VR4 or those new Enkei rims you just bought. They are also ready to laugh at you for ricing up your Stealth.
It’s a community where longtime members are on first name basis with each other and are usually there to help with a motor swap or two.
With the raffles over, winners of DSport’s Editor’s pick and Jim Russell’s Racing School classes named, the event closed with thanks from corporate representatives and a couple of plugs for the 2011 Outlander. Our own little clique said our goodbyes and went our own ways.
It was an auto event which made me drive down to Socal yet once that was over the rest of my weekend played out like a PG-13 version of The Hangover, complete with a trip to the ER and crazy people flipping out. The shining point however was hitting the road in my Mitsubishi and hanging out with like-minded folks to celebrate our favorite brand.
And not having the car break down. [I will make him explain the ER trip in the comments – JG.]