The Mitsubishi Scorpion was first imported to Australia from Japan in the year 1978. Originally, the hardtop 2-door coupe was known as the Mitsubishi Sigma Lambda, but it went by several different names in various international markets. In Europe and South America, the car was known as the Mitsubishi Sapporo. In Australia, however, the car went by only one name: the Scorpion. The car was originally a captive import from Chrysler and sold under the Chrysler brand name. It was in fact imported as the flagship model of Chrysler’s Sigma brand. However, with Mitsubishi Motors Australia’s takeover of Chrysler in the early 1980s, the car became a Mitsubishi through and through.
The Scorpion was produced and sold in one form or another from 1976-1984. Originally, the car was described as a “personal luxury car”. After the genuine success of the Cadillac Seville, there was a growing demand for these types of luxury autos in the late 70s. Soon, Mitsubishi decided it needed a new car to fill the niche. The venture was a success, with the Scorpion receiving rave reviews and the automaker outselling the competition in the market. While original versions were far flashier than later ones, the Scorpion always maintained a level of luxury and style nearly unheard of in the coupe market.
While earlier models were boxy and chunky, later versions of the car were designed to be more aerodynamic, with clean lines and a wedge shape that gave the cars a more “international” look. Throughout its development, the Scorpion boasted impressive handling and road-holding. While the car wasn’t exactly a sports car, it had some serious torque under the bonnet. In fact, the Scorpion competed in many drag, rally, and circuit races throughout its production. The Scorpion provided the inspiration for the Mitsubishi Starion, which featured a similar chassis and drivetrain.
The Scorpion, while unpopular in North America, did well in Japan and Australia. Today, Scorpions can be found on the used car market in near-pristine condition. They make a great vehicle for anyone looking for a small used coupe with considerable luxury and poke. In addition, the vehicles, which in the late 70s and early 80s went for just under $10,000, can be bought inexpensively on today’s market.
There were essentially two generations of the Mitsubishi Scorpion, and several trims with each version. All of the models featured different engines under the bonnet. The first generation of Scorpions generally featured anywhere from 1.6-litre to 2.0-litre Saturn, Sirius, or Astron V-4 engines. The 2.0-litre Astron engine had a top power of 75kW. There was also a turbocharged option with a higher output in the range-topping model. That model also featured independent rear suspension. The second generation of Scorpions featured a 2.6-litre V-4 engine that boasted Mitsubishi’s “Silent Shaft” technology. This unique tech minimised vibrations in the in-line engine and cut down on fuel consumption. This particular 2.6-L achieved a maximum output of 75kW at 5000 RPM and an impressive 192Nm of torque.
The original Scorpions were all about the “wow” factor, they featured velour interiors, frameless door glass, whitewall tires, and every power accessory on the inside that you could dream of. In the early 1980s, when the second generation of Scorpions emerged, Mitsubishi had decided to substantially tone down the cars to reach a wider market. These more conservative cars were made in lighter paint colours and with less trim. The car was still luxurious by most standards, however. This trim included courtesy lights nearly everywhere on the interiors, additional safety features, a wider interior cabin, a high quality stereo, and acoustic dampeners to reduce noise. Amenities like a radio cassette player, movable seats, and fully slide-able windows came standard in this second generation.
The main competition for the Scorpion came from the similar Cadillac Seville. The Seville was also a small luxury coupe that came equipped with a variety of engines. During the same time as the launch of the second generation Scorpions, the Cadillac featured anywhere from a 4.1-litre V8 engine to a 6.0-litre V8 engine, with output anywhere from 78kW on the base models to 108kW on the range-topper. The Scorpion was discontinued in 1984.