Of the Japanese “hero cars” of the 1990s, the Mitsubishi GTO (known as the 3000GT to our American readers) is a bit of a dark horse.
However, you shouldn’t sleep on the GTO – it is a fantastic vehicle, and well-deserving of modern classic status.
It is still one of the best-looking cars to ever roll off the production line, and the performance of the twin turbo (VR-4) variant is still impressive, even by today’s standards.
We reckon that part of the reason for the GTO/3000GT not being seen as such a desirable JDM hero car is because many people misunderstand its purpose.
With the GTO, Mitsubishi didn’t set out to create a track monster.
Their aim was to build the best ‘Grand Tourer’ possible – a car that could carry its occupants in comfort and luxury at high speed on the motorway/highway, and then maintain the pace on twisty roads.
While an RX-7 or GT-R would likely be faster around the racetrack, any sane person would rather eat up the miles on the open road in the GTO/3000GT.
When you consider the GTO in the context of what Mitsubishi set out to achieve (and not as an absolute competitor to the other “flagships” of its era) the car makes so much more sense.
However, the relative lack-of-popularity of the GTO/3000GT versus the competition also presents opportunity for the astute buyer of Japanese performance cars.
We’ve all seen the headlines of Nissan Skyline GT-Rs and Toyota Supras selling for six figures. Unless you win the lottery, re-mortgage the house or strike it big in cryptocurrency, some of these hero cars are becoming unattainable to the average car enthusiast.
Enter the GTO.
Because it never reached the same level of desirability (because so many people seemed to misunderstand its true purpose and brilliance) prices on these haven’t risen to the same dizzying heights.
Prices have still climbed in recent years – as have all classic cars – but the GTO/3000GT is still an attainable proposition for many enthusiasts.
Your definition of attainable may differ, but our view is that any car that can be purchased for a similar price to an average new car (ideally even less!) is attainable.
We couldn’t find any reliable information on the average new car price in New Zealand, so we have used a recent American study by Kelly Blue Book that indicates an average price of $42,258 (as of June 2021 – see here for info).
At the time of writing, $42,258 USD is equivalent to $62,191 NZD.
We reckon that figure is probably higher than the average new car price in New Zealand (small cars are popular new purchases here, and NZ doesn’t tend to have financing terms longer than five years) but it still provides a ballpark figure for what constitutes an attainable classic.
This 1997 Mitsubishi GTO Twin Turbo has recently been listed for sale on TradeMe, NZ’s biggest classified and auto listing website.
This great looking car is a 2nd generation/facelifted GTO with the desirable six-speed manual transmission, and has been imported from Japan (meaning that it would be a JDM-spec car – learn the meaning of JDM if you’d like more information).
A dead giveaway of this being a JDM-spec GTO is the fact that the speedometer only reads to 180 km/h; you can learn more about this in our article on why Japanese cars are speed limited.
The car has just been serviced, and has also had a cam-belt replacement done – which means that the lucky new owner should be able to get in and drive.
With 144,000 km on the clock, it isn’t what we would call a low-mileage example. However, it’s also nice to see that this car has been used for what the manufacturer intended (rather than stored away as a Garage Queen) and because of this we hope it will fall into the hands of someone who continues to enjoy its awesome capability on a regular basis.
The leather interior also looks to be in nice condition (most of the Japanese import examples we get here in New Zealand have the cloth interior) and the car comes across as a clean, tidy and original example with factory alloys, and no apparent modifications.
The dealer in question – Albany Toyota – has this twin turbo GTO listed for sale for $47,990 NZD ($32,600 USD at the time of writing).
While this isn’t cheap, considering just how much prices on modern-classic Japanese performance cars have risen – and compared to the average sale price of new cars these days – this example represents reasonable buying in our view.
If you are based in New Zealand and on the market for the best GTO you can find for your money, this example would have to be at the top of your list – at least if you were looking to buy right now.
There are a few other 2nd generation twin turbo GTOs on TradeMe, but all are priced higher than this one and appear to be in inferior and/or modified condition (not to mention they are all private sales so carry no protection for the buyer – this GTO is being sold by a registered dealer, which means an NZ-domiciled buyer would enjoy some protections if the car were to suffer faults after purchase).
Unfortunately, this GTO is based in Auckland – due to distance and Covid restrictions we aren’t able to go and take a look at it in person and capture our own photos/videos – so we have used the dealers’ images (credit to Albany Toyota).
We haven’t asked the dealer if they are open to exporting this car, but if you are based outside of New Zealand and interested in buying what appears to be a highly-original, desirable-spec GTO, then it would be worth contacting them for more information.
Don’t forget to read our comprehensive Mitsubishi GTO/3000GT buyer’s guide and model history either. This guide will show you everything you need to know about finding, inspecting and purchasing your dream GTO/3000GT.