It’s high time that we took a step back from the motoring cutting edge to reflect on the good, the extremely bad and the irretrievably ugly that has gone before, and take a few moments to contemplate whether intents were delivered or promises were broken. To discover how we got from the past to the present, we need to start in The Carchive.
Last week we started this years ball rolling with a look at the car that ushered in a new era of total adequacy for Korean cars, the Hyundai Stellar. Today we head a little further back through the mists of time to 1975, when a new, exciting force in Coupe’s appeared on the scene. The Company was Mitsubishi, the brand was Colt, and the car was the Celeste. Behold the magnificence after the jump.
The above is what a Celeste looks like floating in crude oil during a full moon,
“Functional beauty combines with continental styling to make the most of the Celeste’s roomy interior. Open the hatchback and there’s full luggage space for the sportsman on the go- even with the back seat up”
To be honest I was expecting a more whimsical opening salvo from this brochure, whose front page and first couple of spreads speak of style far more than substance, but no. It’s almost like a page is missing.
The Celeste, which sprung from the underpinnings of the A70 Lancer, was a three-door liftback-coupe along the same lines as the European Ford Capri, a car whose engineering complexity was about the same, e.g non-existent.
“Slip behind the padded, racing-type steering wheel and you’re in control as never before”
Well, they were touching on sportiness there, but only briefly. This brochure contains no images of aspirational young couples doing sport/luxe things. In fact are no images of humans at all.
The interior was nothing remarkable, in fact anybody who had spent any time driving the ordinary Lancer would find it quite familiar. Actually, looking at it now it comes across as quite sporty. The dashboard was well equipped with revs, oil, amperes all able to be monitored from the driver’s seat. Ergonomics were all well up to mid-’70s standards, that is to say pretty terrible.
“Tailor the cockpit to your most comfortable driving position: the Celeste offers a two-way adjustable seat that works with the variable steering wheel height to assure perfect comforts and fatique-free driving”
Remember, the word “Perfect” suggests that the Celeste had reached the absolute zenith of comfiness. Further more you will suffer NO fatigue while driving it. That’s a written contract, folks.
In fact the comfort level would have been directly comparable to that of the Lancer, because it was essentially the same car.
“If you’re concentrating on smooth power, choose the engine of the future: the 2000cc “80”. If you want plenty of power and maximum economy, the 1600cc engine’s for you: it’s a proven winner in worldwide rallies. Either way, you get a motoring experience like never before”
The bigger engine was the familiar 45G2 unit with its twin balance shafts which, they told us, made it “a four that rides like a V8“. This brochure states it as putting out 115 hp, with the 1600cc unit producing a still very creditable 100hp. That said, they quote both SAE and DIN figures, with the latter giving us a less meaty sounding 98 and 85hp respectively. 105 and 99mph were suggested as top whack for the two engines. Acceleration is not mentioned but it’s fair to guess there was some.
To be honest, in the UK the Celeste never really made any real impact. We already had the Ford Capri, which was universally beloved, and people didn’t really need want tempting away from the blue oval. The Celeste was never really given a USP to make it anything other than an also-ran. It was a good looking car, but the marketing was pretty hopeless.
Perhaps it fared better elsewhere. You could buy it as a Chrysler Lancer Hatchback in Australia and of course the Plymouth or Dodge Arrow in the USA and Canada, where it provided more of a ready contrast from other cars which were closer to the mainstream. Plus, North America was really beginning to develop an appetite for fuel efficient, sporty little cars from the Far East.
And of course, there was the Fire Arrow, with the big 2.6 litre straight four, and lots of jazzy looking stickers. We never got that over here, and it’s hard to know whether a range-topping performance model would have done anything to tempt more British drivers into Mitsubishi showrooms.
(All images are of original manufacturer publicity material, photographed by me. Copyright remains property of Mitsubishi Cars, who pulled out of the medium Coupe market years ago. Bring back Sapporo, I say. Those things were awesome)