If you thought that the Carlisle Import Nationals 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.
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.
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.
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 Hooniverse/Jay Ramey]