Not Sold Here: Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IV

Today’s edition of “Not Sold Here” features this Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IV GSR that I recently spotted at Highline Autos Cars and Coffee in Arizona.

The Lancer Evolution arrived in North America in 2003, but it was already well-established in Europe and Asia since its debut in 1992. The Lancer Evolution has a long history of track racing, hill climb, and World Rally Championship wins, including four consecutive WRC Driver’s Championships from 1996 to 1999.

The Evolution IV was produced from 1996-1998, with a total of 13,134 units built. There were 12,193 units in GSR trim and 941 units in RS trim, according to a post on Lancerregister.com.

On the exterior, the front is dominated by two oversize fog lights set low in the front bumper. The large front mount intercooler, hood vent, and single NACA duct on the passenger side give the car an aggressive look.

A front lip spoiler and side skirts hint that this is no ordinary sedan, and the massive rear wing confirms it.

The car has a gray interior with red inserts on the sport seats and door cards. A Momo leather steering wheel and white-face gauges round out the interior of this Japanese sport sedan. Being that this is a Japanese import car, the steering wheel is on the right-hand side.

Power comes from a 2.0L turbocharged inline 4-cylinder engine making 276 hp and 243 lb-ft of torque. A 5-speed manual gearbox was the only transmission offered.

This car shows its original 16-inch OZ Racing F1 wheels wrapped in Dunlop Direzza ZIII tires. It looks to be a nice, clean example of a Lancer IV, which you don’t see very often in North America.

Importing vehicles that are 25 years old or more means that the vehicle is NOT bound to the 2,500 mile per year limit under the “Show or Display” law of 1999. That law only applies to vehicles that are less than 25 years old and with no similar make or model certified for sale in the U.S.

Because of this, there have been a lot of quirky Japanese cars popping up in the U.S. lately, such as the Honda Beat, the Toyota Sera, and countless Nissan Skylines.

I think it is neat that we are starting to see more of these unique cars appearing in the U.S., and I was glad to have crossed paths with this Japanese sport sedan.

Not Sold Here: Honda Beat

In today’s edition of Not Sold Here, we are featuring the Honda Beat. The Beat is a special class of super small vehicles for which there is no equivalent in the United States. Smaller than a subcompact, these cars are often called “kei cars” in Japan. I featured another Japanese vehicle, the Subaru Microvan, a few years ago. The difference is that the Subaru was actually imported to the U.S. while the Honda Beat was not.

I ran across this Honda Beat at the monthly Cars and Coffee gathering in Scottsdale. It is unbelievably small in person. Although it’s hard to visualize, the Honda Beat is nearly 10 inches narrower and 400 lbs lighter than the original Mazda Miata. It really is like a street legal go-kart. The philosophy behind these kei cars is to have small, efficient transportation for the narrow streets and crowded cities of Japan. As such, they were not designed to be particularly sporty. The inline 3-cylinder engine displaces 656 cc (40.0 cubic inches) and puts out a whopping 63 horsepower. The Honda Beat was only available with a 5-speed manual transmission.

There is a law in the United States that allows vehicles 25 years or older to be imported and driven on the roads, even though the vehicles do not meet US Federal crash test standards. This “show and display” law is the reason why you might be seeing more R32 Skylines and other right-hand drive Japanese vehicles at your favorite car shows. It is very likely that this Honda was imported under that same law.

About 34,000 of these cars were built during the production run from 1991 to 1996. It is unknown how many of them have made it to the U.S., but I’m certain the number is quite small. The car drew a huge number of curious onlookers at the show – much more than some of the brand new exotics and supercars that cost many times what this vehicle is worth.

This is a very unique car and I’m glad to have run across it at the Saturday Motorsports Gathering put on by Scuderia Southwest.