The Mitsubishi Galant had been one of the companies staple cars throughout the brand’s 46-year-old presence in the UK, the very first import was a Galant, aimed initially for buyers of compact medium-sized family cars. Mitsubishi had forged connections with Chrysler, so were selling cars under the Dodge and Chrysler name prior to UK imports, which gave the cars a good start for export market coverage. But it was the second generation Galant that became the first to be sold in the UK, badged as the Colt Galant. Notable for their ‘silent shaft’ engines, which enabled reduced vibration and noise.
Sales started in 1974 but were fairly insignificant, with the smaller Lancer appealing more to the UK market. Available in three body shapes, sales were comparatively small but did provide an alternative to the array of similar looking Japanese mid-sized cars.
By the time the third generation arrived in the UK in 1977 (now badged as the Colt Sigma), there was a warmer reception and became the brands biggest import in 1978.
The fourth-generation replaced it in 1980 and was available with the same 1.6 and 2.0-litre engines, in a bigger plusher package, including a brutal Turbo version all reverting back to the Galant name. For a period, Australian built examples were imported, to by-pass the UK imposed import quotas, arriving as Lonsdales but it’s said that dealers badged them as Mitsubishi’s towards the end of the imports, to avoid customer confusion.
The FWD fifth generation arrived in 1984 and was a complete rework of the chassis and body. It was greeted with enthusiasm by the UK press, who were impressed with the new dynamics.
The Galant was joined by the confusingly named Galant Sapporo in 1987, aimed at pushing the brand upmarket. It succeeded in offering more glitz and performance and set the scene for the executive ‘90s Sigma.
A bigger revelation arrived in 1988 as the sixth generation Galant, which abandoned their Turbocharged roots for sophisticated multi-valve technology. Rally success ran in parallel to the increasing market share. The seventh generation’s inclusion of a V6 engine was a sign that the Galant had moved up one sector, allowing the Lancer to take over as the works rally car. The pricing did the car no favours, despite the all-round improvement.
The final generation to be imported was another car that was greeted with keen feedback, the handsome 1997 models were almost up with the Germans for refinement and presentation, although the badge still lacked prestige. The late addition of the VR4 towards the end of its run showed how good the chassis was but by then UK importers had decided to shelve the Galant name in the UK, to focus on the sporting rally-bred Lancers and off-road vehicles.