7 August 2022

More than an old car #197: Mitsubishi FTO

Sports cars are not for everyone but they have always remained in the public consciousness, for good or bad. In times like this, the appearance of this 1998 Mitsubishi FTO GPX is a reminder that they are not necessarily flashy or be a nuisance to others...

First released in 1994, the car inherited its name from the Galant GTO that appeared in 1971 and it stands for 'Fresh Touring Origination', which was supposed to be a nod towards its 'freshness, youthfulness and originality'. Only available in a 2-door coupe and front-wheel drive arrangement, 3 different engine types were first offered though there were a handful of sub-models. The GPX version was offered with a rear spoiler and side air dams as standard. Other options such as a passenger air bag and traction controls could be had as well.

The FTO was awarded the Car of the Year Japan award in 1994, and as such, Mitsubishi released a limited edition model of the GPX with all cars in yellow and award badging. The MIVEC engine was the most desirable as it led to greater power and performance output compared to the non-MIVEC versions. In 1997, a facelift was carried out: the air intake was now a single piece, the foglights and indicator units became 4 separate circular units and the headlamp internals were also changed. Despite the front wheel drive layout, it had high tuning performance and a relatively high body rigidity. 

The automatic transmission FTO GPX was powered by a 1999 cc Mitsubishi 6A12 24-valve MIVEC V6 engine, allowing it to reach a maximum of 180 km/h (as its top speed was being limited), with an acceleration of 9.1 seconds [0-100 km/h]. Weighing in at 1210 kg with dimensions of 4365 x 1735 x 1300, it was nimble enough for a sporty performance and the fuel consumption of 9.6 litres / 100 km was somewhat respectable.

Production of the FTO ended in 2000 with 36,805 units made, of which 13,083 were the most common GPX variant. It was exclusively sold for the Japanese market, though many gray imports have made their way to the main RHD countries including Singapore. This particular unit has changed hands multiple times along with its exterior colour: at some point in time it was wrapped in orange (ie this picture) and now it is wrapped in blue. It is believed that this is 1 of 4 FTOs that still exist in Singapore, making this an unlikely rarity. 

FTOs were deemed too expensive to revise in light of new side-protection impact rules in Japan, so it was discontinued along with the GTO. It also fell out of fashion as servicing was not the cheapest out there. In light of the current market of 90s Japanese cars, the FTO is slowly making a comeback as a sought-after classic as the number of decent examples have dwindled. Hopefully you will be able to catch a sight of this rare gem the next time you see it!

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