The Mitsubishi 3000GT (known as the GTO in some markets, such as the Japanese Domestic Market) is one of the best Japanese “hero cars” of the 1990s and early 2000s.
In this edition of Car Facts we are looking at the Dodge Stealth vs the 3000GT/GTO to see just how similar (and how different) these two cars are.
Table of Contents
Why Would Mitsubishi & Dodge Make A Car Together?
If you’re looking at the Dodge Stealth versus the Mitsubishi 3000GT, then the first question you might have is why (and how) Mitsubishi and Dodge wound up working together in the first place.
The answer to this question has its origins back in the 1970, when the Chrysler Corporation (which controls the Dodge brand) took a 15% ownership stake in Mitsubishi Motors, which was looking to expand overseas.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Mitsubishi began to manufacture and distribute a number of cars through this partnership, which were sold under the Chrysler, Dodge and Plymouth brands.
In 1985 – in response to growing tensions between Mitsubishi and Chrysler around market share and import quotas – the two partners incorporated ‘Diamond-Star’ Motors (the name reflecting Mitsubishi’s three-diamond logo, and the Pentastar of Chrysler).
Diamond-Star motors would go on to produce a number of “joint venture” cars such as the Mitsubishi Eclipse, also sold as the Plymouth Laser and Eagle talon. Another popular example was the Mitsubishi Galant, which was initially produced in Japan but in the early 1990s North American production shifted to Diamond-Star Motors’ production facility in Normal, Illinois.
It is through this Diamond-Star Motors partnership that the Dodge Stealth came to be.
Basically, Mitsubishi’s GTO (as it was known in Japan) provided an ideal base for the Dodge Stealth, allowing for Diamond-Star Motors to effectively sell one car under two brands and meet different elements of market demand.
A fun fact you might not know about the Dodge Stealth – which relates to the Diamond-Star Motors partnership – is that the Stealth was meant to be the Indianapolis 500 Pace Car in 1991, but this was rejected by the United Auto Workers union on account of the fact that the Stealth was made in Japan and then sold in America under and American brand name … the Dodge Viper was substituted in its place.
In the end the Stealth would go on to be a backup pace car, and Dodge dealers sold replica pace car “special editions”.
Is A Dodge Stealth The Same As A Mitsubishi 3000GT?
Fundamentally, the Dodge Stealth and Mitsubishi 3000GT/GTO are the same car underneath the skin … but obviously they look rather different from the outside.
In fact, you can usually use Dodge Stealth parts on a 3000GT, or vice versa (the exception being if you are working on a base-spec SOHC non-turbo Stealth, which we will cover in the ‘Differences’ section of this article).
Barring a few differences – which we will explore – they are the same car from a mechanical perspective and offer comparable levels of performance. In some respects, deciding between the two comes down to which vehicle you prefer the look of, and what is actually available to buy in your area. For example, here in New Zealand we never got the Dodge Stealth, so your choices are limited to the 3000GT, nor nothing else (although we know it as the Mitsubishi GTO, as per the Japanese Domestic Market).
For all intents and purposes on a practical, performance level, the Dodge Stealth is the same as the Mitsubishi 3000GT (with a couple of exceptions in terms of engine choices, which are explained further on in this article). However, the visual differences and changes are substantial.
What Are The Differences?
The main differences to note between the Dodge Stealth and Mitsubishi 3000GT are:
- Visual/exterior changes – The most obvious difference between the Stealth and 3000GT is the way it looks. From a visual standpoint, this joint venture was more than a case of Dodge slapping their logo on the 3000GT. While there are definitely some similarities in the way the cars look. we think that the average layperson who isn’t a car enthusiast would probably struggle to determine that they are the same car underneath – car fans will probably see the similarities though. Ultimately, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and we will let you be the judge of which car looks better. In New Zealand we only ever saw the GTO/3000GT, so the Stealth is a bit different looking to our tastes, but it is an attractive car nonetheless!
- As you might expect, there are also differences in terms of interior trims, some buttons and controls etc. Because these could vary between manufacturing year and model spec, it’s best to look at any potential Dodge Stealth or 3000GT purchase and see exactly what trim and interior options it has. Our buyer’s guide also has a lot of information on this topic.
- Different engine options – While the DOHC NA V6 and VR4 “twin turbo” engines were the same, there was a base model SOHC V6 offered in the Dodge Stealth (the base was just called the ‘Dodge Stealth’ and not the ‘Dodge Stealth RT’). To be honest, the SOHC V6 is a bit underpowered for what is quite a heavy car, and so we would recommend avoiding that model if possible. When Dodge Stealth production ended in 1997, the base model 3000GT inherited the SOHC V6 engine. We have driven the DOHC V6 non-turbo here in New Zealand – as far as we know, there were never any SOHC V6 models sold outside of North America – and that is a great engine and more than adequate, but the power loss in the SOHC V6 is apparently quite noticeable.
- Slight weight differences – Depending on the exact spec, there can be some relatively minor differences in weight due to different body panels, interior trim options, lack of active aero on Stealth variants etc. There isn’t too much to it, so don’t worry about the weight difference having a material impact on performance.
- No active aero on the Dodge Stealth – Dodge Stealth models never came with Active Aero (which is where spoilers could automatically adjust above certain speeds on the 3000GT). Active Aero was seen at the time as a bit of a gimmick, and in our experience it isn’t that common to find a 3000GT with working Active Aero these days anyway. As far as we can tell, parts availability is very challenging and because there is no great benefit to the technology, most never bothered to fix it.
- No convertible on the Stealth – At one point, the Mitsubishi 3000GT was offered as a retractable hardtop convertible for a short period of time, called the “GTO Spyder” or “VR4 Spyder” depending on whether or not you purchased the twin turbo variant. There was no convertible version of the Stealth, as far as we are aware. There might be some aftermarket modified versions (or 3000GT Spyders wearing Dodge Stealth body panels) but there was no factory convertible option. To be honest we aren’t the biggest fans of the convertible 3000GT, but if the idea of a soft top floats your boat, then you’ll need to pick the Mitsubishi option.
- Years of manufacture – Production of the Dodge Stealth ended earlier than the 3000GT, with the 1997 Z15AM refresh. Therefore, if you want a Stealth you’ll need to buy an example from prior to 1997. The last year models of the 3000GT are some of the most desirable, and have the most modern features, so it’s important to factor that into your buying decision.
There are some other differences between the 3000GT/GTO and the Dodge Stealth, but the points above are the main ones.
Feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this article with any other changes/differences that you are aware of!
Which Should You Buy?
In terms of performance, both the Stealth and 3000GT really are very close for similar specifications e.g. turbo/non-turbo.
Therefore, whether you buy a Dodge Stealth or a 3000GT comes down to three main criteria:
- What is available in your area/market? – For example, here in New Zealand (where we know the car as the Mitsubishi GTO) there aren’t any Dodge Stealths that we are aware of. In America you’ll probably have the choice of both, although age is taking its toll on the combined Stealth/3000GT fleet, meaning there are far fewer choices available than there would have been even 10 years ago. If you have the ability to pick from both, then the most important thing is to buy the car in the best condition with the best service history possible, within your budget. Make sure you consult our 3000GT/Stealth buyer’s guide here for more information that will assist you during the inspection and negotiation process.
- Which do you prefer the look of? – Considering that performance is basically the same, whether you pick the Stealth or the 3000GT largely comes down to which you prefer from a looks perspective. This is entirely subjective, so go with whichever holds the most appeal for you.
- How much do you care about the badge? – This is somewhat related to the point above. Basically, if you fancy the idea of driving a “JDM legend” then you’ll want to buy the Mitsubishi 3000GT, as it’s going to be hard to convince anyone that your Dodge is a cool Japanese icon (even if it really is underneath). On the other hand, if you prefer domestic/American-branded cars then the Dodge could be a great option.
All things being considered, if you have access to both options, then in our view the most important factor is to look at condition and buying the best car you can within your budget.
Obviously if you are in a market that only had the 3000GT/GTO, then you are going to be far more limited in terms of choice.
Is The Dodge Stealth Fast?
Yes, for most intents and purposes the Dodge Stealth is fast.
In turbo guise, it is a rocket-ship (at least by the standards of its time) just like the 3000GT VR-4.
With the DOHC NA V6, it is still plenty fast enough. I’ve driven several non-turbo 3000GTs/GTOs with the DOHC V6, and always been impressed by how spritely they feel, at least with the manual gearbox (automatics will fill a bit more sluggish).
The only exception is the base model SOHC Dodge Stealth, where the combination of a relatively heavy car plus significantly diminished power mean that the car has the looks but not the pace to keep up. However, many SOHC owners report being more than content with their cars, so if you aren’t someone with a true “need for speed” then don’t overlook this option.
Fundamentally, if you’re wondering whether or not the Dodge Stealth is fast enough, then unless you have unrealistic expectations you’re not likely to be disappointed by the car’s performance and potential.
What Happened To The Dodge Stealth?
Production of the 3000GT finished up in the year 2000. However, the Dodge Stealth finished its production run several years earlier, in late 1996.
Long story short, what happened to the Stealth was all due to sales performance.
In an extract from a digitized 1995 edition of the New York Times, the following provides clear evidence that the Stealth was discontinued to declining popularity:
“The decision [to discontinue the Dodge Stealth at the end of the 1996 manufacturing year] confirmed by a Chrysler spokesman today, was attributed to slow sales of the high-performance luxury car, along with a feeling among Chrysler executives that Dodge no longer needed the image boost the Mitsubishi-built Stealth brought it in 1990.”
“Stealth popularity peaked in the first full year of production, 1991, with 18,352 units. Last year  just 7,090 were produced, and through August of this year only 3,077 were sold.”
Due to its popularity, the 3000GT continued for several more years, before being discontinued by Mitsubishi.
Conclusion – Dodge Stealth vs 3000GT, Which Is Better?
Thanks to the badge-engineered nature of the Dodge Stealth, and the fact that the 3000GT was such a fantastic car, both are great options.
With prices climbing and availability becoming increasingly more challenging (especially for examples in good condition) the honest truth is that unless you are really fussy about appearances or badge, the right option to buy is the best car you can find within your budget.
While there are some subtle differences in terms of equipment and performance, the Dodge Stealth and Mitsubishi 3000GT are very close so it does ultimately come down to personal preference from an aesthetics and branding perspective, as well as model availability in your local area.
Perhaps the only car we would look to avoid if possible is the Stealth with the “base” SOHC V6 engine, which is very much down on power compared to the non-turbo
Make sure you read our 3000GT buyer’s guide (which also has a wealth of information on the Dodge Stealth) for more insight into how to find and buy a great example of one of these legendary cars.
What do you prefer out of the Dodge Stealth or the 3000GT? Leave a comment below and get the discussion started! Also feel free to send in photos of your 3000GT/GTO or Stealth to email@example.com and we’d be glad to post them up.