The Mitsubishi 3000GT (also known as the GTO in the Japanese Domestic Market and some other export markets) is one of the all-time great Japanese performance cars.
Superb acceleration, plenty of grip owing in part to an AWD system, and a comfortable “mile munching” configuration that is perfect for grand touring (no points for guessing what the “GT” stands for!) all add up to make the 3000GT an excellent car, and a fantastic modern classic.
Part of what makes the 3000GT so good is its power. Although it is a reasonably heavy car, the twin turbocharged 3.0 V6 produces as much as 320 horsepower, depending on the year of the car and exact configuration (as with many cars of the era, the JDM-spec GTO claims 276hp although the real figure is probably higher. Learn more here about why Japanese cars are limited to a nominal figure of 276hp).
In the hands of a skilled driver, the 3000GT VR-4 (or GTO twin turbo) could hit 60mph /100kph in around 5 seconds, although some report even faster acceleration. For example, an edition of Best Motoring found a GTO MR (the rare, lighter-weight GTO twin turbo) faster than an R32 GT-R over a mile. Even Doug De Muro, in his review of the 3000GT, found it to be not just fast for a car of its era but “modern car fast”.
But are all 3000GTs twin turbo? Does every 3000GT come with the beating heart that gives it such great performance?
If you’re on the market for one of these legendary Japanese modern classics, do you need to be aware of inferior engine choices?
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Not All 3000GTs Are Twin Turbo
It’s important to note that not all 3000GTs/GTOs have the twin turbo engine.
Many came with a naturally-aspirated 3.0 V6 instead.
In most guises, this was a 24 valve DOHC unit producing around 220hp.
In the North American market, non-turbo 3000GTs could be specified without AWD; in Japan all GTOs were AWD, as far as we understand (in New Zealand we get a lot of Japanese import used cars – although GTOs are becoming an increasingly rare sight on the road, all of them here are AWD)
As you might be aware, the Mitsubishi 3000GT was also sold as a ‘badge engineered’ Dodge Stealth in the North American market (you can learn more here about the 3000GT vs Dodge Stealth if you’d like more info on the subtle differences between the two).
The Dodge Stealth was available with an entry-level 12 valve SOHC 3.0 V6, which produced around 162hp. The original 3000GT and first revision facelift weren’t available with this fairly inadequate engine option – only the Stealth was. However, in 1997 (for the final facelift) the Stealth was dropped altogether, and an entry 3000GT was released with the same SOCH engine.
Therefore, in the American market there are some later model 3000GTs available with a SOHC, non-turbo V6.
Should You Consider Buying A Non-Turbo 3000GT/GTO?
We have established that not all 3000GTs/GTOs are twin turbo.
With this in mind, should you consider buying a non-turbocharged example?
Ultimately, that comes down to what you really want and what your budget is. For example, if you just want a clean 3000GT/GTO because you love the shape and you don’t care too much about having the fastest car on the road, then you’ll probably find it easier these days to get into a NA 3000GT for a reasonable price (certainly that is the case where we are based – twin turbo cars are becoming rather pricey, whereas you can still score a decent non-turbo for a fair price).
If reliability is a concern, then a non-turbo car might be a better option as well as they are inherently less complex, and probably less likely to have been thrashed and/or badly modified. You can learn more about this in our article on 3000GT reliability concerns.
Don’t think that a non-turbo is a terrible drive either. We have driven a few different non-turbo Mitsubishi GTOs here in NZ (one from each “generation”/facelift) and have always been impressed. The turbo option is certainly much quicker and definitely more desirable, but for everyday use a non-turbo with a manual gearbox is still more than powerful enough to have fun.
However, we would advise avoiding the base SOHC V6 that was available for the final facelift of the 3000GT in the United States (and same goes for the Dodge Stealth). Unless you are scoring an absolute bargain or the car is in irresistible condition, that engine is too underpowered for a heavy car.
With that being said, if you desire the best, then you’ll no doubt want to get your hands on a twin turbocharged car.
Whatever car you want, make sure you check out our 3000GT/GTO buyer’s guide and model history here for more information. This comprehensive resource will help you to source, inspect and purchase the best possible Mitsubishi 3000GT for your money.
Conclusion – Are All 3000GT/GTO Twin Turbo?
No, they are not.
A number of 3000GTs/GTOs were sold with a naturally-aspirated 3.0 V6.
The majority of these were 24v DOHC engines, which are still respectably powerful and provide an enjoyable driving experience.
However, there are some 12v SOHC units floating around – at least for non-JDM cars e.g. in the American market. These should probably be avoided, unless you are getting a great deal or you are happy to take the least powerful option.
Don’t forget to check out our 3000GT/GTO buyer’s guide as well.
If you have any questions, queries or concerns, then feel free to leave a comment below and we will get back to you ASAP.