Mitsubishi 3000GT/GTO Buyer’s Guide and History

Launched in 1990, the Mitsubishi 3000GT (Mitsubishi GTO in Japan) was designed to be the company’s flagship model. It replaced Mitsubishi’s ancient (but fantastic) Starion, and came loaded with more technology than you can shake a stick at. However, while the 3000GT isn’t quite as fondly remembered as the Toyota Supra or Mazda RX-7, it is still one of the greatest cars to come out of the land of the rising sun.

Today, the 3000GT is starting to become a bit of a collector’s item and prices are still fairly reasonable when compared to other Japanese legends of the period. This 3000GT buyers guide (or GTO buyers guide) will give you all the information you need to know about purchasing Mitsubishi’s flagship car from the 1990s.

Additionally, we have included information on buying a Dodge Stealth, as the car is essentially a rebadged 3000GT.

How to Use This 3000GT Buyer’s Guide

This buying guide for the Mitsubishi 3000GT is broken up into a number of different sections that cover various topics. The first section is dedicated to the history of the Mitsubishi 3000GT and then we will be diving into the buyer’s guide section of the article. At the end of the guide we have more general car buying advice (such as how to get the best deal) and information on how to import a 3000GT from Japan.

Make sure you use the table of contents below to skip to the section you want to read.

The History and Specifications of the Mitsubishi 3000GT

Mitsubishi HSR II (1989)

The late 80s and early 90s was a golden period for Japanese cars. Manufactures such as Toyota, Mazda, Honda and Nissan were producing some insane vehicles and Mitsubishi wanted a piece of the action.

While the Starion, Mitsubishi’s first attempt at producing a high performance coupe, proved popular, it wasn’t exactly the pinnacle of motoring technology. To develop new technologies for the future 3000GT, Mitsubishi began working on a number of prototypes and concept cars during the mid-eighties.

The Mitsubishi HSR (Highly Sophisticated-transport Research) was a range of concept cars that were exhibited through the late 80s and 90s. In 1987 the company unveiled the first HSR. This concept vehicle showcased Mitsubishi’s integrated electronic systems that controlled the drivetrain, steering, brakes, suspension and more. It was powered by a 2.0-litre 16-valve turbocharged engine that produced around 295 horsepower.

The second HSR concept, unveiled in 1989, focused heavily on active aerodynamics that could change the vehicle’s drag coefficient. Many of the technologies found on the HSR-II were also found on the Mitsubishi HSX, the precursor to the 3000GT. 

Mitsubishi’s HSX concept car was a big hit at the 1989 Tokyo Motor Show and one year later it would enter production under the name 3000GT or GTO in Japan.

The Mitsubishi 3000GT/GTO Launch

The goal of the 3000GT was to not only perform better than its competitors, but also be priced at a significantly lower price than other luxury automobiles. To do this, they based the 3000GT’s chassis around the Eclipse, a cheaply priced sport coupe that was powered by a four-cylinder engine.

Mitsubishi completely reworked the Ecplise’s chassis and collaborated with Chrysler’s Highland Park International Design Studio to create a much more aggressive vehicle. The car featured a whole host of air dams, scoops, ducts and power bulges that made it one of the most striking cars to come out of Japan at the time.

To power such an impressive looking car, Mitsubishi decided to use a 3.0-litre 24-valve DOHC V6 engine that either came naturally aspirated or with twin-turbochargers. They then kitted out the car with a sophisticated all-wheel-drive system, four-wheel steering, active aerodynamics, a tuneable exhaust, and electronically controlled suspension.  

Base models were offered with front-wheel drive in North America, while Japanese base models featured the same four-wheel drive system found on more expensive models. Additionally, those in North America could opt for the Dodge Stealth, a re-badged 3000GT that featured exactly the same mechanicals.

Like the 3000GT, the Dodge Stealth was manufactured in Japan and shipped to North America. On base models of the Stealth, Dodge offered a SOHC engine that was not available on 3000GTs until 1997.

The 3000GT (and Stealth) enjoyed great success during the early 90s. In fact, the car sold more models than the Nissan 300ZX, the Mazda RX-7, and the Toyota Supra combined. However, by the late 1990s sales dropped off significantly due to increases in price and a lack of demand for sports cars like the 3000GT.

In North America, the Dodge Stealth was discontinued in 1996 while the 3000GT would carry on until 1999. Production for Japanese domestic market 3000GTs (GTO) finished in the year 2000, with the final two cars being sold the following year.

The Different Generations

While the 3000GT remained relatively unchanged during its ten-year production run, there were a number of minor revisions and facelifts. The 3000GT/GTO can be broken up into four different generations. We have explained them below:

Mk1 GTO/3000GT – Internally designated Z16A, these cars were produced from 1990-1993 and featured pop-up headlights. VR4 models from this generation featured a front active air dam that was discontinued on later models.

In Europe, Mitsubishi released a limited run of 30 first generation 3000GTs, which were branded as “Beckenbauer Edition”. These were given a slick yellow paint job, a Remus sports exhaust, OZ Futura rims, a HKS air filter, a model number plate, a C-net phone system and extra power (car now produced 400bhp).

Mk2 GTO/3000GT – Were given the designation Z15A (2WS) and Z16A (4WS). These featured a redesigned front bumper and new projector beam headlights that replaced the old pop-up ones. The interior was redesigned with a new audio system, dual air bags, and revised air conditioning.

Mitsubishi also gave the car a slight increase in power and twin-turbocharged models could now be had with a six-speed manual transmission. Mk2 3000GTs were produced from 1994 to 1997.

Mk3 GTO/3000GT – Was a minor revision, with a slightly redesigned front bumper and spoiler on the rear to replace the active aero system. Mitsubishi manufactured Mk3 3000GTs/GTOs from 1997-2000 and they were given the designation Z15AM.

Mk4 GTO/3000GT – Mitsubishi made a number of minor styling changes for the final two years of the GTO’s production. They fitted a new more aggressive front bumper, new sail panels, lights, and turn signals. They also kitted out the VR4 with an inverted airfoil spoiler that was named the “Combat Wing”.

Mitsubishi 3000GT Models

Japanese Mitsubishi GTOs came in a number of different models – SR, Twin Turbo (VR4), and the light weight MR (Mitsubishi Racing) edition. In the United States, Canada, and Europe buyers could opt for the base, SL or VR4 variants of the 3000GT. In 1995 and 1996 a special hardtop convertible version of the 3000GT was offered for the US market. This Spyder 3000GT was only available in SL and VR4 variants.

The Dodge Stealth also came in a number of variants – base, R/T, and R/T TT. Additionally, during the first three years of production buyers could opt for the ES model, and in 1994 they could choose the R/T Luxury model.

North American Models

Base 3000GT

At the bottom end of the range was the base model. From 1990 to 1996, the base 3000GT was powered by a naturally aspirated 3.0-litre DOHC 24-valve V6 engine with a compression ratio of 10.0:1. This engine produced 222 ponies at 6,000rpm and 201 lb-ft. of torque at 4,500 rpm. Torque would later increase to 205 lb ft. in 1996.

From 1997, the base model came fitted with the 3.0-litre SOHC 12-valve V6 engine from the base Dodge Stealth. This had a compression ratio of 9.9:1 and produced 161 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 185 lb-ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm.

With such a drop in performance, the base model was regarded as a disgrace to the 3000GT family by enthusiasts and motoring journalists alike. The worst thing was that Mitsubishi did not drop the price with the downgrade in performance, and in fact, the base 1997 3000GT was as expensive as the VR4 when it first launched in 1990.  

All base model 3000GTs were fitted with either a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic. In America, base model 3000GTs came with front-wheel drive and had independent front suspension and multi-link rear suspension. They came fitted with 16-inch alloy rims with 225/55/VR16 tyres.


1999 3000 GT 3.0L SOHC V6

Price: US$12,500

Mileage: 120,000 miles

Location: ELLIJAY, United States

3000GT SL

The SL was essentially the luxury version of the 3000GT family. It came with a number of features that were not standard or available on base models of the car. Some of these options included anti-lock brakes, an alarm system, cruise control, leather trim, the wheel size, ECS (Electronically Controlled Suspension), a sunroof, and the engine during the final years of production.

The SL stuck with the same 3.0-litre DOHC V6 engine that produced 222 horsepower. It was priced slightly higher and featured the same transmission options (a five-speed manual and four-speed auto). Like the base 3000GT, the SL sent its power to the front wheels and featured independent front suspension and multi-link rear suspension. From 1990 to 1991, the SL came with 16-inch alloy rims (with chrome being an option in 1995 and 1996). From 1997 to 1999, Mitsubishi offered the car with 17-inch chrome wheels.

3000GT VR4

The ‘big daddy’ of the 3000GT range was branded with the name VR4. It was powered by a 3.0-litre DOHC 24-valve, twin-turbocharged, twin-intercooled V6 engine. VR4 models produced until 1993 churned out 300 horsepower and 307 lb-ft. of torque at 4,500 rpm. From 1994 onwards, power increased to 320 bhp and 315 lb-ft. of torque.

To compensate for the lower power output of the Mk1 VR4, a modification known as the “Free Boost Modification” was made to increase the first gen’s boost from 10 pounds/square inch to 12 pounds/square inch. This modification made the Mk1 VR4 equal in power to the later generations of the car.  

VR4s were fitted with a five-speed Getrag manual transmission until 1993, while a six-speed version of the same transmission was installed on later versions of the car. Power was sent to all four wheels through an AWD system composed of a centre VCU (Viscous Coupling Unit) differential sending torque to the front and to the rear limited-slip differentials. Under perfect conditions, the AWD system sends 45% of available power to the front and 55% to the rear, However, 95% can be sent to either axle deepening on the circumstances.

The four-wheel steering (4WS) system was designed to show off Mitsubishi’s engineering abilities and was claimed to improve high speed stability. Mitsubishi’s system could turn the rear wheels up to 1.5 degrees in the same directions as the front wheels when travelling at 30 mph (48km/h) or more. While the 4WS system did work as intended, it was more of a technological toy rather than a true performance modification.

In addition to the 4WS and AWD systems, the VR4 was also fitted with a tunable exhaust (similar to the one found in Ferrari’s 360 supercar), and an Active Aero system (ditched after 1996). The Active Aero system could drop the front spoiler by 80mm and change the angle of the rear wing by 15 degrees when the car was travelling in excess of 45mph (72km/h). These changes helped to reduce air flow from under the vehicle and increase downforce at the rear. The system would deactivate when the car slowed down to 50mph.

From 1990 to 1995, VR4s came fitted with the ECS (electronically controlled suspension) system. Drivers could choose between two settings – Sport and Tour. The system would automatically switch the damping force in the four shock absorbers to give more performance or a better quality ride. In Tour mode, the onboard computer uses the speed, throttle position, g-force, and steering wheel angular velocity to determine how hard to set the shocks – soft, medium or hard. In the Sport setting the shocks were set to hard mode to improve performance. If any of the sensors broke the computer would set all of the dampers to hard.

The tunable exhaust could be set to two modes – Sport and Tour. In Sport mode exhaust gases could pass more freely through the exhaust system, lowering back pressure and thus improving overall performance. In Tour mode, the system would reroute exhaust gases through the main muffler to reduce the sound coming from the exhaust, however, this would lead to reduced performance.

Specifications of the VR4
Model3000GT VR4 (1990)3000GT VR4 (1994)
Year of productionAll: 1990-2000All: 1990-2000
No. producedN/AN/A
LayoutFront-engined, 4wd, 4ws.Front-engined, 4wd, 4ws.
EngineV6, dohc, 4v/cyl, twin-turbo.V6, dohc, 4v/cyl, twin-turbo.
Capacity2972 cc2972 cc
Power300 bhp320 bhp
Torque307 lbft315 lbft
Gearbox5-speed manual6-speed manual
Suspension (F/R)Strut / multi-link, adaptive dampingStrut / multi-link
Weight1750 kg1724 kg
Top speed155 mph / 153 mph160 mph
0-60 mph5.5 sec / 5.8 sec5.1 sec* / 5.7 sec**
0-100 mph14.5 sec / 16.1 sec13.6 sec* / 14.4 sec**
3000GT Spyder

For the 1995 and 1996 model years, Mitsubishi released a retractable hardtop version of both the SL and VR4 in the United States. They were mechanically identical to their fixed top brothers but with extra weight and a major markup in price ($20,000 over the regular VR4).

While the retractable roof worked well, the Spyder had reduced chassis rigidity and the increase in weight lead to reduced performance. The Spyder was discontinued in 1997 due to poor sales and was never officially available in Japan or Europe. A customisation firm in the United States developed a business converting standard 3000GTs to convertible soft-top versions of the car.

Japanese Models

Mitsubishi GTO NA

At the bottom end of the range was the GTO NA (also known as the SR or simply as the GTO). Unlike the bottom spec US 3000GT, the SR featured the AWD system of the more expensive twin-turbocharged model. It also featured the 3.0-litre V6 engine and came with either a manual or automatic transmission.

Mitsubishi GTO Twin-Turbo

The twin-turbo GTO is essentially the same as the VR4 3000GT sold in other markets. It was offered with the same twin-turbocharged engine, AWD system and other technologies.

Mitsubishi GTO Twin Turbo MR

The Mitsubishi Racing (MR) GTO was a lightweight twin turbo model without 4WS, ABS, ECS or Active Aero. Apart from those removed features it was mechanically identical to standard twin-turbocharged GTO.

Dodge Stealth Models

Base Model Dodge Stealth

The base Dodge Stealth was much the same as the base 3000GT, but with a 12v 3.0-litre SOHC V6 engine instead of the 24v DOHC unit fitted to the Mitsubishi. This meant that the Stealth produced 160 ponies, significantly less than the Mitsubishi. The Stealth’s SOHC engine would later be fitted to the base 3000GT, after the car was discontinued in 1996.

Dodge Stealth ES

Moving up the line, the ES Stealth was fitted with Mitsubishi’s larger 24v DOHC power unit and was essentially the same as the base 3000GT. It could come with either a five-speed manual or four-speed auto, and was fitted with 16-inch alloy wheels. In 1993, the Mitsubishi-Dodge team dropped the ES model from the Stealth range.

Dodge Stealth R/T

Compared to the ES, the R/T model featured larger 17-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, ABS brakes, a better sound system and more. It was similar in spec to the SL Mitsubishi 3000GT and proved to be fairly popular with buyers.

Dodge Stealth R/T Twin Turbo

At the top end of the range was the R/T Twin Turbo. This car is pretty much a VR4 or GTO Twin Turbo with a different bodykit and badge. It features the same 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged V6 and AWD system, but lacks some of the other technologies such as the Active Aero system.

Buying a Mitsubishi 3000GT/GTO

Now that we have covered the history and specifications of the 3000GT/GTO and the Dodge Stealth, let’s look at buying one. This section will cover everything you need to know about buying a 3000GT and how to find the best one for sale.

In addition to this, we have included more general car buying advice at the end of this article, and some information on how to import a Mitsubishi GTO/3000GT from Japan as well.

After reading this guide we recommend that you head on over to to check out all the great information they have. 

Mitsubishi 3000GT Buying Guide

The 3000GT is starting to get a bit long in the tooth these days and many of them are well past their prime. These were (and still are) complicated cars and a bad one can quickly drain your wallet and turn your dream purchase into a nightmare. You need to be extremely thorough when inspecting any 3000GT and do not rush into a purchase.

The 3000GT is not as desirable as something like a Toyota Supra or a Mazda RX-7, so you can still find them for fairly reasonable prices. However, well maintained low mileage VR4/Twin Turbo models won’t be cheap. Let’s look at some things you need to watch out for when buying a 3000GT.

Check the Vin

It is always good practice to check the vin of a car to make sure you know what you are dealing with. Some owners will tell you that the 3000GT they are selling is one year, when in actual fact it is another. We also recommend you take note of the vin and check it up on a website like, to see if you can glean any more information about the car.

To work out whether you are looking at a 3000GT or a GTO, you can look at the vin/chassis number. The chassis number on Japanese GTOs will always start with Z16A or Z15A, while 3000GTs will begin with something like JMAMNZ16A and be followed by numbers.


While many 3000GTs out there are fit for the scrap heap, there are still plenty of good examples available and we are going to show you how to find them. You should always try to inspect a 3000GT yourself or get a third party to do so for you.

Remember to try and view a car first thing in the morning when the engine is cold. Warm engines can hide a lot of problems, so don’t let the owner heat the car up for you arrive. Additionally, try to avoid viewing any 3000GT when they are wet, as water can hide problems with the bodywork or paint.


Like with all cars, preventative maintenance goes a long way on 3000GTs, so make sure the vehicle you are looking at has been regularly serviced. There have been numerous cases of owners racking up 300,000 miles or more on 3000GTs, with one owner on reporting that he had over one million miles on there’s.

To start your inspection, open the bonnet. Make sure that it opens smoothly and doesn’t fall back down when you let go. Check to make sure that all of the fluid levels are at the correct height and that they are not under or overfilled.

It is important that the engine oil is changed regularly, especially on turbocharged 3000GT/GTOs. Oil changes should occur every 4,500 miles (7,000km) for turbocharged models and every 7,500 miles for naturally aspirated versions (12,000km). Some, more enthusiastic owners may change the oil every 2-3000 miles or so. The oil filter should be changed every other oil change, but once again, some owners like to change it more frequently (every time they do an oil change). If the owner has been lax with changing the oil and oil filter, it is a good sign that they have not cared for the car properly.

Additionally, if the 3000GT does not get much use, oil changes should occur every 6-12 months. This is because oil that sits at the bottom of the crankcase will break down in the presence of contaminates such as dirt and gas.

When it comes to deciding what oil you should run with a 3000GT, something like Mobils 1’s 0W-40 is a good choice. Other good options include 5W-40 or 10W-40 oils. Avoid running oils that are too thin as this can cause problems overtime. For oil filters, you can’t go past a good K&N filter. For those who are on a budget, something like the Purolator PureOne is not a bad option.

Remember to check the oil for any contaminates or metallic particles. If you do see any, thank the seller for their time and move onto the next car. Black oil is fine; it just means it is probably time for an oil change. Additionally, if the oil smells like coolant or fuel, it could indicate a failing headgasket or bad piston rings.

Oil Pan

We recommend that you check the oil pan for any dents as this can cause spun bearings. If the oil pan is dented be cautious about purchasing the car as it may already have damage.

Timing Belt and 60K/120K Service

One of the most important things to check when inspecting any 3000GT/GTO, is whether the 60K/120K servicing has been done. It is incredibly important that this work is carried out otherwise you could be up for some expensive repairs when the timing belt breaks (for DOHC engines).

If the car is running a SOHC power unit, it is usually fine when the timing belt breaks but we always recommend that the recommended service intervals are adhered to.  

The following parts should be replaced every 60,000 miles (96,000km) for DOHC engines:

  • Water Pump with gasket and oring
  • Timing Belt Hydraulic Tensioner
  • Timing Belt Tensioner Pulley
  • Timing Belt Idler Pulley
  • Timing Belt
  • Spark Plugs(6)
  • Spark Plug Wires
  • Power Steering Belt
  • Alternator & Air Conditioner belt
  • Alternator Belt (No A/C)
  • Oil
  • Oil Filter
  • Air Filter
  • Intake Plenum Gasket
  • Throttle Body Gasket    

The following parts should be replaced every 60,000 miles (96,000km) for SOHC engines:

  • Water Pump and Gaskets
  • Timing Belt (or opt for the Gates belt)
  • Timing Belt Tensioner Pulley
  • Tming Tensioner Spring
  • Spark Plugs(6)
  • Spark Plug Wires
  • Power Steering Belt
  • Alternator & Air Conditioner belt
  • Alternator Belt (No A/C)
  • Oil
  • Oil Filter
  • Air Filter
  • Intake Plenum Gasket
  • Throttle Body Gasket    

The cost of the 60K service will depend on where you live in the world, but expect to pay around US$350 for the SOHC parts and US$5-650 for the DOHC parts. If you don’t want to do the work yourself, you will need to add on the price of labour as well.

The 120K service is pretty much the same as the 60K service, but you should also get things like the oil pump and the valve stem seals done as well. You may also want to get the replaced/checked out as well.

Ask the owner if the 60K/120K service has been carried out and back up their claim by looking at the service history. You should also check any stickers inside the engine bay to see when parts have last been replaced.

If this work has not been carried out, you should either move onto another 3000GT or try to get a large discount and get it done immediately. For those who don’t use their 3000GTs much, this work should be carried out every five years.

Other Things to Check

If possible, try to get a look at the spark plugs. The appearance of spark plugs can tell you a lot about how an engine is running. Check out this guide for more information on spark plug analysis. For those wondering what spark plugs should be used in a 3000GT, something like BKR6EIX Iridium plugs are perfect.

Additionally, check all the wiring, brackets and clamps to make sure they are still in good condition. If the wiring is not stock and the brackets/clamps in the engine bay have been replaced it may be a sign that the engine has been swapped.

Inspect the Exhaust System

While inspecting a 3000GT, make sure you get a good look at the exhaust system of the car. Try to inspect as much of the system as you can and keep an eye out for any leaks, repairs or corrosion. Black sooty stains on the exhaust system indicate a leak. If you do need to replace the exhaust system, prepare to hand over a few coins as they do not come cheap.

3000GT/GTO Engine Swaps and Rebuilds
V8 3000GT!

Be cautious of any 3000GT with a rebuilt engine. Recently-rebuilt engines may simple have been slapped together to get a quick sale.The owner/seller may be trying to offload the problem onto an unsuspecting buyer, so be careful. Some owners may even claim that the engine has been rebuilt, when in-fact only minor work (or no work) has been carried out.

If you are looking at a 3000GT with a rebuilt engine, it is incredibly important to inspect any receipts for parts and labour closely. Check with the owner to see where the work has been carried out. If it has been done by a trusted 3000GT/GTO specialist, you shouldn’t fine too many problems.

Don’t be drawn in by a GT with a recently-rebuilt engine. It is usually safer to go with a car that has more miles on a rebuilt engine (10,000 or more) rather than a freshly done one.

You may come across 3000GTs with swapped engines. While these may be cheaper, we would not recommend buying one. This is because the 3000GT is a fairly complicated car and most people/garages have absolutely no idea what they are doing when it comes to engine swaps.

Starting Up a 3000GT

Rather than starting the car yourself, ask the owner to do it for you. There are a couple of reasons for this. The first is that you can see if any smoke comes out the back upon start-up, and the second is that if the owner revs the nuts off the car, you know not to waste any more time on the vehicle.

As with any car, 3000GTs should be given time to warmup before they are revved hard. This is especially true for turbocharged models as they need time for the oil to circulate and get pumped around the turbo bearings.

You may notice some vapour content coming out of the exhaust. This is usually caused by condensation in the exhaust system and if it disappears it is okay. If you notice excessive amounts of smoke coming out of the exhaust, the car is probably not worth your time.

White smoke – Can be caused by water that has made its way into the cylinders and could be a sign that the head gasket has blown.

Blue smoke – Is usually caused by piston wear, worn piston rings and more. To check for blue smoke, get a friend to follow you as you drive the car.

Black smoke – Usually occurs when the engine is running too rich (burning too much fuel). The first things you should check is the air-filter and other intake components. Black/dark grey smoke may also mean that the turbos or the turbo seals are on their way out.

White/grey smoke upon start-up that disappears as soon as the engine is warm is fine. If you are starting the car from cold, the emissions will probably only be evident from one side of the tail pipes (typically the left-hand side). This is because the 3000GT’s exhaust system has one straight through pipe that splits into two rear silencers. The exhaust gases will follow the easiest path until the revs are increased and the pressure balances out.

Head back to the front of the car and listen out for any strange noises. The hydraulic cam followers (tappets) can be a bit noisy, especially on start up. Not all GTO/3000GTs suffer this problem, but many do. This problem should reduce or go away completely if the oil level is correct. As long as the sound isn’t really bad, the car should be fine.

Listen out for any misfiring or chugging when the car is cold. Chugging/misfiring can be caused by low compression and/or dodgy fuel injectors. Metallic whining sounds could be a sign that the oil pump or power steering pump is past its prime.

Additionally, keep an ear out for any squeals from the cam/timing belt area, which can indicate a worn bearing in either the alternator, power steering pump, idler wheel or even a worn timing belt.

Once the car has warmed up properly, the idle speed should be floating around 700rpm (+-100rpm) in park or neutral. If the idle speed is hovering above 1,000rpm it could be a sign of problems with the idle circuit or other issues.

When you start driving the car, let it warm up before giving it some revs. Once the 3000GT is up to a good operating temp, give it some throttle and check for any hesitation or bucking. If it does, it could be a sign of a number of problems. Additionally, check for any smoke when accelerating or on the overrun.

Turbo Problems

Listen to the turbochargers – are they noisy? Do you hear any rumbling or high pitched metallic noises? If the turbos are making any such sounds they are definitely on their way out, but they will probably pack it in before then.

As we wrote earlier, the main problem with turbos is that they can smoke a bit (or a lot). This is because the internal oil seal solidifies and lets oil into the system, which exits the exhaust as smoke. Turbochargers can be overhauled or it may be cheaper to replace them completely.  

Inspect for oil on the insides of the Y-shaped pipe on the throttle body housing. This pipe is normally dark grey plastic and has two inlet ports which are attached to rubber intercooler hoses by hose clamps (jubilee clips). You will have to disconnect the hoses to look inside the pipe, but it is quite important to do. This area can tell you a lot about the condition of the engine/turbos.

If there is oil present in the pipe/hoses, it is a sign that the seals are worn within the turbochargers. If you look from the front of the engine, the right hand pipe runs from the rear turbo’s intercooler, while the left hand pipe runs from the front turbo’s intercooler. Inspecting the pipes will help you determine which turbocharger is worn or see if they both are.

Some owners replace the plastic Y pipe with an updated stainless steel one and the hoses with coloured ones.

Is a Compression Test Worth It on a 3000GT?

If possible, we do recommend that you get a compression test performed or do one yourself before purchasing any 3000GT/GTO. Compression tests can tell you a lot about the health of an engine and they help to indicate specific problems. Here is a complete guide to performing a compression test on a DOHC 3000GT.

While performing a compression test is a good way to work out whether there are any problems with the engine, some owners will be reluctant to let you take their car’s engine to pieces (understandably so).

Tools Needed for a Compression Test

  • 8mm socket w/ wrench
  • Compression tester kit (This one from OTC comes highly recommended)

Stock compression pressures should be as follows:

NA (non turbo) engine (10:1) – 185psi with a lower limit of 139psi

Turbocharged engine (8:1) – 156psi with a lower limit of 115psi

Additionally, in both engines, there should not be more than a 14psi difference between the highest and lowest cylinder readings. Note: all of these readings should be taken with a warm engine.

A low reading is usually a good indicator of an existing problem with the engine. If you do encounter a 3000GT with low compression, it may be a good idea to move onto another one.

Checking The Gauges

There are three gauges in the centre of the dashboard – oil pressure, turbo boost and temperature. During a test drive, keep an eye on these gauges. Whilst driving, the oil pressure gauge should be hovering around the halfway mark and not any lower when the engine is underload.

The turbo boost gauge won’t tell you too much, but if it rises from just above zero to max quickly then you should be cautious. It may simply be a sticky wastegate, a split hose or something much worse. If you are looking at an NA model, you obviously won’t have to worry about this.

The temperature gauge should be sitting at around the half way point. When the engine is sitting at the correct temperature, give it some revs and listen out for any strange noises from the engine.


Depending on the year and model, 3000GTs/GTOs were fitted with either a five-speed manual, a six-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission. The six-speed manual transmission was fitted to later model GTs, but you may come across some earlier models that have had them fitted.

Manual 3000GT/GTOs

Both the five and the six-speed manual transmissions are fairly robust and will be more than strong enough to cope with the demands of everyday driving. However, the main area of weakness on these transmissions is the output shaft. It is not uncommon for these to break or become worn and they are expensive to replace.

If the output shaft on a 3000GT has worn splines, it should be replaced to prevent stripping the splines and the consequential failure of the central differential viscous coupling unit (VCU). Ask the owner if the shaft has ever been replaced and with what as there are a number of aftermarket output shafts that are available. There are three main options when it comes to replacing the output shaft:

  • Replace with the stock/OEM shaft
  • Upgrade to a 24-spline xfer case
  • Upgrade to a 300M shaft

For cars that are running extra power or are driven hard for extended periods of time, it is highly recommended that a 300M shaft be installed.

If the 3000GT you are looking at does have a broken output shaft you will probably find that it moves under power, but will slip with too much throttle. This is because torque can no longer be sent to the rear wheels and the VCU will send the power to the front wheels. If you do experience this, stop driving immediately and don’t purchase the car.

Gear changes should be smooth while shifting, however, some 3000GTs will have synchro wear. Shift through the gears at both low and high rpms, making sure you listen out for any strange noises such as grinding and whining.


Check the engagement of the clutch. If it is stock or close to stock, the clutch should engage smoothly about 8-10cm (3-4 inches) from the floor. To check for engagement, put the vehicle in gear on a flat surface and gradually let the clutch out

The next thing to check is if the clutch is dragging. Once again, put the car in gear on a level surface with the clutch pressed to the floor. Rev the car hard (make sure it is warm before you do this) and see if it moves. If the vehicle does move, the clutch isn’t fully disengaging when you shift and parts will wear prematurely.

Following this, check to see if the clutch is slipping. While driving the vehicle at a steady speed, change into a gear that is too high for the speed you are going. Then, plant your foot on the throttle pedal and see if the revs jump. If the RPM jumps but you don’t accelerate then the clutch is probably slipping.

In addition to the above, remember to check the clutch fluid level and see if it has ever been replaced. Both DOT 3 and DOT 4 fluids should work fine for the 3000GT’s clutch.

Automatic 3000GT/GTO

The first thing you should check on automatic 3000GTs is the fluid level. Checking the fluid level is incredibly important and if it is low/high it indicates that the vehicle has not been looked after properly. Automatic transmissions do not respond well to incorrect fluid levels and you should probably walk away if you find a 3000GT with the problem.

Check the fluid level when the gearbox is hot (after a test drive) and make sure that the car is on a level surface. The next thing to do is take the gear lever through all the gears while the engine is running. Listen out for any major clunking sounds and don’t forget to put your foot on the brake!

Following this, Inspect the transmission dipstick (while the car is in neutral). The level should be setting at the top of the HOT mark. Additionally, the fluid should be golden in colour and if it is any darker, you may want to look for another 3000GT. Red transmission fluid is sometimes used, so don’t worry if you see that.

While driving the vehicle, listen out for any clunks or knocks from the automatic transmission. Poor gear selection is a sign that the automatic transmission will need some work soon. Additionally, check that the gearbox kicks down during various applications of throttle.

The last thing to check with automatic transmissions on the 3000GT is if the overdrive works. When the overdrive is switched off the car will not go into top gear, but will hold third gear. If you are driving at more than 40mph (64km/h) and switch the overdrive off, the gearbox should shift into a lower gear. If it doesn’t, there are problems with the transmission.

You may come across 3000GTs/GTOs fitted with extra oil coolers for the automatic transmission. This is good as excess heat will do damage to automatic gearboxes.

Body and Exterior

Thankfully, corrosion is not a major problem on these cars and any rust is probably the result of an accident or minor damage. However, keep an eye out for it, especially if the car has lived in a country that salts their roads, or has lived by the sea.

Crash Damage and Other Repair Work

The main problem you will find with 3000GT/GTO’s body is accident damage. Accident damage can make or break a vehicle so keep an eye out for it. Many owners/sellers will lie about accident damage, so don’t take their word for it. If they do mention that the car has been in an accident, assume the worst and hope for the best. Here are some things you should watch out for:

  • Check for any misaligned panels or uneven panel gaps. Make sure the bonnet aligns correctly and there is an equal gap running down both sides.
  • Inspect the doors – do they open and close properly? Do they drop when you open them? If the doors drop or they don’t open/close properly you have problems.  
  • If the 3000GT you are looking at is fitted with pop up headlights, make sure they work correctly. Do they rise and retract properly? If they foul on the body it could be a sign of accident damage.
  • Look for any inconsistencies in the paint. Discolouration or waving in the paint could be a sign that the car has been resprayed.
  • If the bonnet/hood looks like it is popped when it is not, it usually indicates that the vehicle has been in an accident. Depending on how serious this problem is it can be fixed, but is usually a sign of a careless owner.
  • Inspect the underside of the car for any accident damage. Make sure everything is straight and look for any parts that may have been replaced. Broken parts and/or bent metal are usually a sign of accident damage.
  • Check that the tailgate/boot opens properly and the panel gap is even.
  • Make sure that the bonnet/hood and the tailgate struts work as intended.
  • Check for any paint fade or fading plastic parts.
  • If you are looking at a 3000GT Spyder, make sure the retractable roof works as intended.

While accident damage is a serious problem, you should not automatically exclude a car from consideration because of it. Minor damage is usually fine as long as it has been repaired correctly and not bodged. If the 3000GT you are looking at has been in a major accident, we recommend that you move onto another one. Remember to use any repair work/accident damage as a bargaining point.

Signs That a 3000GT has been Stored Outside

Storing a car outside can lead to a number of problems such as premature paint fade. Here are a few signs that a 3000GT has been stored outside.

  • Hard rubber window seals
  • Excess water in the engine bay or cabin
  • Faded paint
  • Heavily discoloured badges
  • Cracking on the plastic parts
  • Obvious rust or corrosion
Other Bodywork Problems on the Mitsubishi 3000GT/GTO

Unless the 3000GT you are looking at has been stored in a garage its entire life, there are bound to be a few scratches, dings and other paintwork issues. Use these problems to try and drive down the price of the vehicle.

Additionally, you may find the odd leak on the car, especially where the door glass and roof joins. You may also find some leaking around the sunroof on models that have those. Spyder models or those with soft-top conversions can also leak where the roof meets the windows. Any leaks should be fixed as soon as possible.

We recommend that you take a good look in the wheelwells/mud guards for “excessive road material”. Too much material from the ground/road could be an indication of burnouts.

Active Aero

For 3000GTs with active aerodynamics there will be a switch in the centre console that is located just forward of the gear shifter. Turn the ignition one click and press the Aero button, the rear spoiler should flip up. Get out the car and inspect the front spoiler to make sure it has dropped evenly. Turn off the active aero to make sure the rear spoiler and the front spoiler return to their original positions. While driving the car, check to make sure the active aero activates when in auto mode (at around 50mph or 80km/h). When your speed reduces to 30mph (50km/h) or less, the spoilers should retract.

Brakes and Suspension
Brake System

Get down and inspect the brake discs, making sure to check for even wear. If the discs are pitted, scored or have grooves in them you’ve got trouble. Additionally, try to check how much life is left in the pads as you can use this as a bargaining point.

The rear brake covers can hide wear on the inner faces of the rear discs and the discs can also become extremely corroded. Replacing the rear discs is more expensive than the front as they house the handbrake system and take more time to fit.

When test driving a 3000GT, make sure you abuse the brakes heavily (in a safe place of course) and see if the car pulls to one side. If it does it may be a sign of a sticking/seized caliper or other problems. If the car shimmies under braking, plan on replacing the discs.

Suspension and Steering

While inspecting the brakes and underside of the car, make sure you take a good look at the suspension components. Does everything look good? Or are there worn components and broken parts? Is it stock or modified?

When driving a 3000GT, make sure you check that the car drives straight without you correcting the wheel. If it does not, it could be an alignment issue or the vehicle may have been in an accident. Note: roads slanted to one side to help water drainage may pull the vehicle to one side slightly, giving the impression that the wheel alignment is out. If you do suspect that the wheel alignment is out, ask the owner when the alignment was last done (check any receipts for work as well).

A 3000GT that pulls to one side on even road surfaces could have worn strut mounts/bushings. These are roughly US$40 to replace and wear quite quickly.

If the ride is overly bouncy or rough it may be a sign that the struts are worn out. These will wear out overtime, so expect to see this problem on cars with a lot of mileage. At roughly US$200 each, these struts are not cheap so try to get a discount on any 3000GT with this problem.

The next thing to check is the condition of the CV joints. Drive in a figure 8 and keep an ear out for any strange noises from the CV joints. If you can, jack the car up and wiggle the wheels around, checking for play.

Checking the ECS system

It is important to check the ECS (electronically controlled suspension) system on cars that have it. If the light flashes between sport and tour, a sensor wire may be broken. These wires are on top of the struts under a black piece of plastic and are simple to repair.

If it is not a wire, then there may be a number of other problems from issues with the ECS system to problems with the ECS computer, or even a worn shock absorber.

You may encounter a 3000GT where the ECS light on the dash doesn’t work at all. This may simply be down to a blown bulb, but it is more likely to be caused by some sort of fault. When there is a fault with the system, the ECS light will flash between sport and tour modes. Some devious sellers/owners will remove the bulb so that any potential buyers are not aware of the fault.

Alternatively, owners will “unplug” the ECS unit altogether, which shuts the system down and results in no Sport/Tour lights at all. If you are looking at a 3000GT with ECS and there are no lights at all – then the system has probably been disabled.

A common failure point on the OEM ECS system is the ECS controller itself. It is quite common for the capacitors to fail and then the controller will stop working completely. Replacing the OEM ECS controller is quite difficult now as Mitsubishi has stopped making them. Additionally, the front ECS struts are no longer available in the United States (Some Canadian dealers may still have them).

Another reason why the ECS light may not function is because the suspension has been replaced with an aftermarket setup. If aftermarket suspension has been fitted, make sure it is from a good brand such as HKS.

OEM vs Techworks ECS

The table below summarises the difference between the sport/tour lights for OEM and Techworks systems. Thanks to Techworks and duke3k of for providing this useful information (duke3k also helped out with some of the ECS information above).

Strut State

OEM ECS Sport/Tour Light

Techworks ECS Sport/Tour Light

Techworks ECS Individual strut LED X4

Fault condition: Strut not accepting command to change To next setting

Tour/Sport light

Flash together every 30 seconds

Tour/Sport light

Flash together every 30 seconds


Fault condition: Strut wires possibly Broken

Same as above

Tour/Sport light

Alternatively flash every 30 seconds


Fault condition: Any other sensor Fault condition (steering wheel sensor, brake sensor, TPS sensor)

Same as above

Not applicable – Techworks uses Built in Accelerometer


Manual struts set to hard

Sport light on

Solid no flashing

Tour light on

Solid no flashing


Manual struts set to Medium

Not available


Tour light on

Solid no flashing


Manual struts set to soft

Not available

Tour light on

Solid no flashing


Auto struts set to hard

Tour light on

Solid no flashing

Tour light on

Solid no flashing


Auto struts set to medium

Tour light on

Solid no flashing

Tour light on

Solid no flashing


Auto struts set to soft

Tour light on

Solid no flashing

Tour light on

Solid no flashing


Credit Techworks

Check the Steering Racks

The next thing to check is the steering racks on both the front and the rear of the car. If they are leaking they will need some attention, which will be about US$250-300 plus labour for the removal and refitting of them. Remember to check for any signs of power steering fluid around the steering rack gaitors or that they are not ballooning due to being full of power steering fluid.

Wheels and Tyres

A good portion of 3000GTs/GTOs you find for sale will probably have aftermarket wheels fitted. Check with the owner to see if they have the originals, and if they don’t, try to get the price down a little bit. If the wheels have locking lug nuts, make sure the owner has the key for them.

While inspecting the suspension and brake components, check the tyres – do they have any tread on them? Are they wearing evenly? Are they from a good brand? Uneven tyre wear is a sign that the wheel alignment is out.

If the 3000GT you are looking at is wearing a premium set of tyres it shows that the owner probably cars about the car.

Interior and Electronics

You shouldn’t find too many problems on the inside of the car but expect to see some wear, especially on higher mileage models. Neither the leather or cloth trims fitted to the 3000GT/GTO have outstanding wear qualities. If you have to replace the interior trim, expect to hand over some serious coin.

If the steering wheel, gear shifter and other trim parts show excessive amounts of wear for the mileage of the car, it may be a sign that the odometer has been wound back.

Check that all the buttons and switches work correctly – mirrors, windows, locks, air conditioning, etc. When you start the car up, do the lights on the dash light up? If dash lights such as the ABS, SRS, and check engine light don’t appear when the key is turned in the ignition, it may be a sign that they have been unplugged to hide the fact that something is wrong.

Make sure you inspect any aftermarket devices installed in the vehicle closely. Is the wiring and workmanship of a high standard? Or has the device been thrown in and not connected well? If devices and components have not been installed correctly it is a sign that the owner may not have cared for the vehicle.

If any parts such as the steering wheel, seats or shifter have been replaced, ask the owner if they have the originals on hand.

The 3000GT/GTO is getting on a bit now and the electronics in them aren’t getting any younger. Capacitors in the ECU system will eventually break down, so see if they have been replaced. The Engine Control Unit and Transmission Control Unit (autos only) can fail and are quite expensive to replace.  

Buying a Modified 3000GT/GTO

There is nothing wrong with a modified 3000GT, but make sure you check that any work has been carried out correctly. Check to see if the modifications are legal and haven’t ruined the characteristics of the vehicle. Here’s a list of some common modifications you may find on a 3000GT:

  • Wheels
  • Exhaust system (aftermarket options are often cheaper than the original)
  • Dump valves/blow off valves (original can leak and is often replaced by an aftermarket option)
  • Radio/Stereo
  • Air filter upgrade from companies such as K&N or HKS
  • Suspension
  • Boost controller to increase power
  • Added gauges around the dash area as the original boost gauge isn’t the best

We would advise caution when it comes to purchasing a 3000GT that has been used as a track car or has been modified by multiple owners.

Summary of Buying a Mitsubishi 3000GT/GTO

Finding a good 3000GT is becoming more and more difficult, but they are out there. These are complicated cars and there is a lot that can go wrong on them. Many 3000GTs have been maintained poorly or have had poor modifications fitted to them. Still, if you buy a good 3000GT and look after it well they will go on for a long time.

Remember to take your time inspecting any 3000GT and don’t rush into a purchase. If anything seems wrong, it probably is. Don’t take the owners word for it and always push for a discount.

Buying a Dodge Stealth

As the Dodge Stealth is essentially the same car as the 3000GT, you just need to follow the advice above and look out for any of the problems we listed.

In the next section we have included more general car buying information. Additionally, at the end of this article we have included information of where to buy a 3000GT and how to import a Mitsubishi GTO from Japan.

General Car Buying Advice for the Mitsubishi 3000GT/GTO

How to Get Yourself the Best Deal On a 3000GT

This information applies to both dealers and private sealers. Knowledge is power and it can save you a lot of money when purchasing a vehicle.

1. Do your research. Before you start your hunt for a 3000GT make sure you know what model and condition you are happy with. Are you okay with a highly modified 3000GT or do you want something that is completely stock? Do you want a low mileage example or are you happy with a car that has travelled far?  

2. Shop around. Don’t limit yourself to just one dealer, seller or location. Check out various different dealers and sellers to find the best car and get the right price. Limiting yourself to just one area will make it more difficult to find your ideal 3000GT.

3. Test drive multiple cars. Don’t just take one 3000GT out and then buy it. Test drive as many 3000GTs as you can get your hands on. This will give you a good idea of what makes a good and what makes a bad 3000GT.  

4. Adjust your attitude. Don’t rush into purchasing a 3000GT, take your time. If you are desperate to buy a car you are more likely to get ripped off. Take your time looking through all the different vehicles available and then go inspect the ones you think look promising.

5. Use any issues with the car to your advantage. Take a mental note of any issues you find with the vehicle. When it comes to discussing the price, use these problems to try and drive down the price. For example, if the car needs new tyres or brake pads make a point of it and try to get the seller to reduce the price.

6. Don’t trust the owner. While some owners/sellers are honest about their cars, many will lie to get a quick sale. Take in what the owner has to say, but check out the vehicle thoroughly and inspect all the car’s documentation.  

7. Bounce between sellers/dealers. If you are looking at multiple 3000GTs, let the owner/seller know. This way they will know that you have other options and they may try to undercut the price.

8. Be prepared to walk away. If you are not happy with the deal, simply walk away. You may miss out on the car or the seller may get back to you with a better offer.

Mileage vs Condition

Mileage vs condition is always a big debate, but we recommend that you should always buy on condition and then on the mileage. There are a truck-ton of 3000GTs out there with low mileage but in poor condition, while some high mileage examples may be perfectly fine.

Lots of owners make the mistake of believing that they are preserving their car by not driving it. In reality, this is completely false and not driving a vehicle can actually do more damage than good. Short distance trips are not kind to a 3000GT’s engine as they do not have enough time to warm up and get lubricated properly.

Rubber seals and plastic parts will fail regardless of mileage and can even deteriorate quicker on cars that don’t get used often. Letting a car sit will not prevent rust or stop the electronics from failing.

Mileage will never decrease with age, so go out and drive your car!  

Service History and Other Documentation

It is incredibly important to check any vehicle’s service history and any additional paperwork that goes along with it. The service history will give you a good idea of how the 3000GT you are looking at has been maintained. In addition to this, receipts and paperwork for modifications can help you determine whether they have been done by an experienced tuner or a bad one.

If the owner can’t or won’t let you see the service history, you should probably pass on the vehicle. A complete service history will add value to any 3000GT and will make it easier to sell the vehicle in the future.

Additionally, you can check websites such as CarFax (USA) and CarJam (NZ) for more information about the car you are thinking of purchasing. These sort of websites can be incredibly useful, but there is usually a cost associated with them.

Questions That You Should Ask the Seller/Owner

  • How often do you drive the car?
  • When was the last service and who was it serviced by?
  • How much oil does it use?
  • What oil do you use in the car?
  • When was the timing belt replaced?
  • What parts have been replaced?
  • What modifications have been made to the vehicle?
  • Has the vehicle overheated at any point?
  • Has the car been in any major or minor accidents? Is so, what repairs were made?
  • Is there any money owing on the car?
  • Have you got any information on the previous owners and how they treated the vehicle?
  • Is there any rust?
  • Has rust been removed at any point?
  • Has the car been used for track use at any point?
  • When were the brake pads replaced and have the calipers seized at any point in time?
  • Where do you store/park the car usually?

There are loads more questions you can ask the seller, but we feel these are some of the most important.

Things That Would Make Us Walk Away from a Mitsubishi 3000GT

Sometimes, the best option is to simply walk away from a vehicle. While you may be happy with a vehicle with these problems, we are not.

  • Overheating problems
  • Significant Crash Damage
  • Money owing on the car
  • Stanced
  • Modifications with no paperwork or carried out by a poorly reviewed tuner
  • Excessive amounts of power (too much power can lead to reliability problems down the track)
  • Bad compression
  • Bad resprays
  • Significant rust problems
  • Engine swaps with non-standard engine
  • Significant track use
  • Major engine or transmission issues
  • Owner who is not forthcoming with information (could be trying to hide something)

Where to Find a Mitsubishi 3000GT for Sale?

Auction/Classifieds Websites

Websites such as Craigslist, Kijiji, TradeMe, Piston Heads and GumTree are excellent places to start your hunt for a 3000GT. You will find a range of 3000GTs at different prices and in different conditions. You can easily compare the price, specs and condition of different 3000GTs and you will be able to select the ones that look promising.

Dealers and Importers

Most dealers and importers will have an online presence, so make sure you check out their website for any 3000GTs for sale. Dealers tend to be a bit more expensive than private sellers, but sometimes you can get some extras thrown in or better protection.

Social Media

Websites such as Reddit, Facebook and even Instagram can be excellent places to find 3000GTs for sale. Check out some of the many enthusiast groups or subreddits and let other users know you are interested in buying a 3000GT. Additionally, social media groups are often great places to find spare parts or get advice from other owners.

Owners’ Clubs

This sort of ties in with the above, but many owners’ clubs have their own website or they may not even have a website at all. Look to see if there are any Mitsubishi or 3000GT clubs in your area as these are often great places to find cars for sale or ask for advice.

Importing a Mitsubishi GTO from Japan

If you are struggling to find a suitable Mitsubishi 3000GT in your country, you may want to look at importing one from Japan. While the 3000GT was sold in lots of different countries, the best place to import them from is usually Japan.

Exporting vehicles from Japan is a big business as it keeps the country’s motor industry moving and older vehicles become more expensive to run. Below we have outlined everything you need to know about importing a Mitsubishi GTO from Japan.

How to Import a Mitsubishi GTO from Japan

While importing a Mitsubishi GTO from Japan may seem a bit daunting, it is actually quite easy. The first thing we recommend you do is to Google search “import Mitsubishi GTO” or “Import Mitsubishi 3000GT”. You will be greeted with loads of different websites to choose from. These websites will let you search for GTOs based on their age, generation, condition, price and more.

Most of the websites/companies you encounter should be based in Japan, but you may find some other ones that are located in different parts of the world.

Make sure you check reviews/feedback of any website or auction house you want to use. While you are unlikely to get scammed, it can happen, so be prepared. We have listed a few examples of Japanese importers/exporters below:

GoonetExchangeIs one of the biggest vehicle exporters in Japan and they have head offices in Tokyo and Nagoya. They have quite a good selection of GTOs ready for export.

JDM Expo Is an independent subsidiary of Nikko Auto Co., which is recognized as on the most reliable exporters of Japanese cars in the country.

CarFromJapan – is another large portal for connecting overseas buyers with Japanese second hand cars. They have a number of GTOs available for export.

Always read up on any website or auction house you are thinking of using. Look for reviews and feedback from people who have used to service before. While you are unlikely to get scammed, it can happen. Here are some examples of Japanese importers/exporters.

How Does the Japanese Car Grading System Work?

The auction houses and car exporters in Japan all get their vehicles in roughly the same way. The difference between them is how much support they are willing to provide, how honest they are, and how they grade their vehicles

They will provide what is known as an ‘auction check sheet’ – a document that contains most of what you need to know about the vehicle. As you can’t see the vehicle personally, you will have to rely on the check sheet and other information on the listing to make a decision. If the seller/website is not willing to provide you with an auction check sheet or additional information on the car, don’t proceed any further.

Before you make a purchase you need to learn how to read an auction check sheet. The sheet contains information on the make, model, condition, specifications and any other notes. There will be a grade on the sheet that denotes the overall grade of the vehicle.

While the grade on a check sheet is important, you should not rely on it to make a final decision. Different companies have different methods for grading their vehicles, so a grade 4 for one company may be a grade 3.5 for another.

Some websites may use a different grading system and if you can’t view the auction check sheet, you should contact the seller/exporter.

Use the grade to whittle down the number of GTOs you are looking at and then use the check sheet and additionally information to make a decision. We also recommend you pay a third party to check out the car for you.

The Auction Check Sheet

Below you can see an example of an auction check sheet. The grade is located in the top right corner of the check sheet. You will notice that there is both a letter and a number grade. The number indicates the overall condition of the vehicle, while the letter shows you the interior grade. At the bottom right of the check sheet is the ‘car map’. The car map tells you information about the exterior of the GTO and where any problems are located.

Additionally, the sheet contains information about the specs of the vehicle and any modifications (major or minor). The inspector may also write some additional notes about the car.

What Does the Number Grade Mean?
  • Grade 7 to 9 or S – New car with delivery miles.
  • Grade 6 – Same as above but with a few more miles.
  • Grade 5 – Vehicle is in excellent condition with low miles.
  • Grade 4.5 – Overall condition is great, but may have up to 100,000 miles on the clock.
  • Grade 4 – Overall condition is good, but can have low or high miles.
  • Grade 3.5 – Similar to grade 4, but some work may be needed and they usually have more miles.
  • Grade 3 – Can be the same condition as grade 3.5, but with more miles. Alternatively, the car may have lower miles but require more work.
  • Grade 2 – Very poor condition car and may have significant mechanical or exterior issues. Not necessarily a right off, but you would have to be a brave buyer to purchase one of these.
  • Grade 1 – Is modified in some way (can be extensive or something simple).
  • Grade 0, A, R, RA – Some repair history that can be major or minor.
The Letter Grade

As we wrote earlier, the number grade is usually accompanied by a letter that indicates the interior grade. An ‘A’ indicates that the interior is in exceptional or good condition. A ‘B’ indicates that the car is in average condition, while a ‘C’ displays that it is in poor condition. Grades below C show that the car’s interior is in very poor condition.

The Car Map

The check sheet will also contain what is called a “car map”, which tells you all the information you need to know about the exterior condition of the car. It will show the location of any problems or damage to the vehicle. Any problems are indicated by a letter and a number. The letter tells you what the issue is and the number indicates the severity. You can read more about the car map in our “How to Import a Car from Japan” guide.

Our Guidelines for Importing a GTO from Japan

  • Always demand to see and have the auction check sheet before making a purchase
  • If you can’t read Japanese or the company won’t provide a translated check sheet, get help from somebody who speaks/reads Japanese.
  • Check that the chassis number on the check sheet matches the one on the frame
  • Cross reference the check sheet with other websites
  • Don’t rely on the grade (always check the auction sheet thoroughly)
  • Investigate each website/service thoroughly (reviews, feedback, etc.)
  • Be careful of heavily modified vehicles
  • Get someone to inspect the car for you if possible. Ask for photos and get a good run down of the condition.
  • Avoid cars with unknown mileages
  • Stay away from bargains that seem to be too good to be true
  • Stay away from grade 0, A, RA, R vehicles that have been involved in accidents

Know Your Country’s Importation Laws

Always make sure you check your country’s importation laws as you may find you can’t bring the vehicle you want in. For example,some countries have certain restrictions on importing cars under a certain age.

Useful Links – Is a website dedicated to all things 3000GT/GTO/Stealth. The users on here have a wealth of knowledge and will be more than happy to answer any of your questions about the 3000GT. We recommend you check this site out before you buy a 3000GT/GTO. 3000GT & Stealth Service Manuals 3SX has a great backup of service and information manuals for the 3000GT/GTO/Stealth. This is really useful stuff, whether you already own a 3000GT or are thinking of buying one. 

Renegade Techworks – Sells aftermarket replacement for the 3000GT’s OEM ECS system. 

Summary of this Mitsubishi 3000GT Buyer’s Guide

This guide should have covered most of what you need to know about buying a Mitsubishi 3000GT/GTO or a Dodge Stealth. While the 3000GT isn’t remembered as fondly as other Japanese classics such as the Toyota Supra and the Mazda RX-7, it is still an excellent vehicle. If looked after properly they should provide years of driving enjoyment.

Now Read: How To Import a Car from Japan 


  • Ben

    From his early days playing the original Gran Turismo and with his Hot Wheels car set, Ben has had a long interest in all things automotive. His first foray into the world of automotive journalism was way back in 2009 and since then he has only grown more interested in the industry. Ben also runs and heads up the video production side of Garage Dreams, focusing on small informative documentaries about some of the world's most legendary cars.

20 thoughts on “Mitsubishi 3000GT/GTO Buyer’s Guide and History”

  1. Great article! I do have a question. What is the difference between a Dodge Stealth and a 3000gt? My dad is looking at buying a 3000GT. I’m not sure it’s the best choice. I think this is something you can answer. 🙂

    • Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4 has active aero, electronic controlled suspension and exhaust system which can switch from your to sport. Dodge Stealth RT Does not have these features.

  2. The GTO TT/MR and VR4 were much faster in a straight line than the 300ZX which was actually the slowest. I’d redo your acceleration times. 1/4M is 13.5@103 average and 0-60 in 4.8-5.4 depending on trim level and launch.

    I have more. These links show times by professional drivers. 13.2@102.7 and similar times have been pulled by stock cars by owners. – Stock VR4, 13.2@103 (rounded up) by owner.

    Anyhow, the links are above but I doubt you’ll change this page. Thanks for your time 🙂

    It also beat the Z32 TT around a track by 2 seconds

  3. I don’t know why my interest in cars just “sparked” now, but I’m so glad I took the time and effort reading this outstanding article. I’m going to get my permit soon and in 5 months I am going to turn 18, and I hope then I can get me license. I saw this 1993 Mitsubishi 3000GT that was on sale and was completely gravitated towards the car. I took a picture of some of the information that was disclosed on a paper attached to the car, but without the proper knowledge about cars I was totally stumped. So after almost a week of research, and especially reading this article, I am so happy to say that I know some essential information. Even though a couple days of research isn’t going to cut it I am taking the right steps forward in expanding my interest in automobiles. I hope that you continue to publish these amazing and informative articles and maybe one day I’ll obtain the legendary and once popular Mitsubishi 3000GT.

  4. ‘However, while the specifications sounded excellent, the 3000GT didn’t quite match up to the likes of the Toyota Supra or the Nissan 300ZX’ – Just type: ‘best motoring, GTO’, into youtube and see why this car outsold those two. stock for stock it was better than most of those (could beat the honda nsx and R32, R33 GTR), even with that weight handicap. fast forward to today and you realize it’s even easier to build these into 500hp for relatively cheap. other than that line, great article.

  5. Have a 92 3000gt vr4 I bought new w 410k miles,orig engine,turbos,injectors.Bolt on performance parts from HKS and 3sx dinoed at 400+ rwhp and 450lb torque in1996.This car well maintained is my daily driver,all year in Colorado.Solid and bulletproof.SECRET? KNOW HOW TO DRIVE IT.Try not to launch it on 1st,then you can drive it hard but not shifting hard.I drive this car 200 miles a day alternating it w my 1998 3000gt vr4 I bought 13yrs ago with 12.6k miles.It now has 233k miles,stock except catback,y pipe.Solid,nothing has ever gone wrong but maintenance parts…brakes,struts,etc…still original injectors,fuel pump,ecu,transmission,tcase,turbos…..So,to those skeptics who say these cars are a money pit,LEARN TO DRIVE THEM FAST,MAINTAIN THEM AND BE SOMEWHAT GENTLE and you will be surprised how fun these cars are after 28 and 22 years later.LOVE MY GT VR4.

        • The value can depend on quite a few different things (condition, where the car is being sold, etc.), so we didn’t include it in this guide. I would have a look online to see if you can find other VR4’s in similar condition and with similar mileage in the location you are planning to sell the car. Compare your VR4 to these other cars and work out a price (if your 3000GT is in better condition you can probably ask for more).

          • Consider looking through the trade history on Very active auction site in NA and some fairly high quality VR4s have sold through this venue the past couple years — could give a good estimate of where to price yours.

      • Thanks Thomas…Consider me one! Just purchased my first VR4 (’97 with 21k miles) after drooling over these cars ever since they came out. This entire article was FANTASTIC for educating me before and during the purchase process. Appreciate your comments as a guide to some more of the do’s/don’ts in order to get maximum enjoyment from my new toy!

        • Thanks for the kind comment on the article Mark – I hope you enjoy your car. Please consider letting your friends and family know about this site if they are looking to buy a classic car!

    • I had a 92 VR-4 and trades it for a 94 when they came out. Awesome car 375,486 miles on it now. Had 14 miles on it when l picked it up at the Dealership. Car is Danube Blue and l love it now as much as ever. This is not a Car to drive in town but is the best road Car l have ever owned. Always wait for two minutes after stopping to shut off the engine so the Turbos can oil. Anti skid braking quit working ~15 years ago and since l didn’t like it anyway l’ve never had it fixed. Motor had never overheated or been torn down. Uses~ a quart of Oil every 2,500 miles. These cars are made to be driven fast. Service Manager from Columbia Mitsubishi told me once l was the only person he was not scared of riding in their VR-4 with because l knew how to drive it.

  6. A straight-line speed comparison between the 300ZX and the GTO TT/MR and VR4 shows that the 300ZX was the slowest. To improve your acceleration timings, I’d want to see them revised.

    • Hi John, where did you see that? There does seem to be a lot of variation in acceleration timings (down to testing conditions, exact car spec e.g. comparing a USDM 3000GT VR4 to a GTO Twin Turbo from the Japanese market, driver skills etc)?

      To be honest, all of these cars are plenty fast enough!

  7. This is the most thorough, comprehensive and sensible run through of any car I have ever read.
    A very useful resource.
    Well done!

  8. I got to say this is still on of my favourite cars. The best shape is the 1992 with the pop up lights in my opinion. I think the supra has the 2jz which as lots of potential in the tuning scene and it was featured in fast and furious, hence why the supra is just priced really high. The 3000gt was an good car but not as popular. The nissan 300zx is also another lovely looking car too. I am thinking of getting one at some point, but I have looked at an few and they are very rusty underneath and behind the wheel arches. Its hard to find an clean example in the UK. Red and blue is just perfect in these.


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