One evening I got a call from the car dealer that bought my Ferrari 328. He said he had something he wanted to show me and wanted to drop by this evening. I was a glutton for punishment, so I agreed and waited to see what he would bring.
He arrived with a little red sports car that I could not identify at first glance. I walked around the car and noticed that it was a Mitsubishi. “I don’t do Japanese cars.” I said.
“This is not just a Japanese car. It is the most advanced vehicle in the world today. Its a Mitsubishi 3000GT VR4.” He said.
“Seriously. That’s because it’s new. It has a 3.0L DOHC 24-valve, twin-turbocharged, twin-intercooled V6, producing between 300 to 320 hp depending on the boost. It has 4 wheel drive AND 4 wheel steering. I also has ECS, electronically controlled suspension, and it has Active Aero System, which activates a chin-spoiler up front, and the wing in the rear, above 45mph. Oh, it also has Variable Exhaust Tuning, which allows you to control the flow of the exhaust to either Sport or Touring. The sport sounds incredible and increases the power, and the Touring softens the sound and power to the 4 wheels.”
“Sounds interesting. It’s still Japanese. I’ve always had the feeling that Jap cars are a bit tinny.”
“Just get into this car and drive it around the island. I’ll bet you can’t break the tires loose.” He said.
“Really?” I said.
I got into the Mitz and was surprised at the look of the cockpit. Lights and gauges everywhere. It looked like an airplane cockpit. The night was probably not the best time to look at a new car, I thought. In any case, I drove the car around the island (15 mph speed limit) as fast as I could given the circumstances. It felt quick and stable.
“How much is it?” I asked.
“$45 thousand.” He said.
“For a Japanese car?” I asked surprised.
“List price is about 38,000, but they are in such demand that they are selling for up to $50,000. You can buy 3 of these for what you got for your 328.”
“You can’t compare this to a Ferrari. Come back tomorrow and I’ll look at it in the daytime.” I said.
After he left I went into my office and tried to do some research on this car. The specs were good. It seems they tried to cram as much technology into the vehicle as humanly possible. The next day he returned with the Mitz. He showed me his invoice and told me that he wanted to make a quick $1,000 on the car. After going back and forth for a while I still bought the car for $45,000. It seemed that I needed a new toy to play with, and this was considerably cheaper that a Ferrari.
The next few months I drove to Tampa once a week, so I got the chance to test the VR4. It was very quick. 5 seconds to 60 and 155 limit on the governor. Alligator Alley is Interstate 75, that goes from Ft Lauderdale to Naples and is great road to test top speed. 100 miles without any turns and every mile the road is elevated so a 4′ pipe is inserted under the road, so alligators and other swamp animals can cross to the other side without stepping on the road. At every rise, you could see a few miles ahead, so no cops could catch you unaware (unless they were airborne). I often drove most of the way at over 120 mph, and when clear of traffic, I would test the 155 limit on the governor. It felt weird. When you hit 155, the engine would miss. It sucked.
It was still a Japanese car. Although I had no problems with the car, it felt tinny. I could not fall in love with it, so one day I sold it. The novelty of the VR4s didn’t continue to support the premium people were asking for the car. A year later, they were selling at a discount.