9,224 Original Miles:

1986 Mitsubishi Starion ESI-R!

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The first Japanese sports car featuring EFI and turbocharging, Mitsubishi's Starion - the name supposedly being a contraction of "Star of Orion" - was at the forefront of 1980s motorsports at the international level. Here in the U.S.A., Starions won SCCA Endurance Championships outright, three times.
Thirty years on, nice, low-mileage examples of the exciting, widebody Starion are very hard to find as they have become cherished collector's items.



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The car being offered here was part of a prominent Santa Barbara, Calif. collection. To date, it has traveled a mere 9,224 miles!

Just like Audi's "Ur-Quattro," the top-of-the-line Starion features a body with boxy, flared fenders and is powered by a turbo-charged inline-four, all part of the recipe of a 1980s road rocket. Deep reaching front air dam and low-drag pop-up headlights add to the theme.

This ultra-low-mileage example comes with a folder of supporting documents, as well as the original owner's manual and a clean history report.

Also included is the original purchase contract, dated November 16, 1986. We can only speculate why the owner, almost 60 years old at the time, parked the car after covering less than 10K miles. Being a well-known Antiques dealer, he might have sensed early on that the ESI-R would become a valuable collector's piece. After the elderly Gentleman's passing last year, we were able to acquire the Mitsubishi from his estate.

We had the car serviced by foreign car specialist UNITED AUTO right away to make sure everything would be in perfect working condition.

Engine is Mitsubishi's turbocharged and intercooled 2.6-liter, 12-valve Astron G54B SOHC inline-four HEMI, producing a stout 180 horsepower, powerful enough to give a contemporary Audi Quattro a run for its money.

Engine compartment presents itself toothbrush clean, with every last anodized fitting looking virtually "like new," which comes as no surprise, given the car's ultra-low mileage.

The front engine/rear wheel drive ESI-R is one of the first cars in its class to be offered with anti-lock brakes and a limited slip differential. Its very capable suspension consists of MacPherson struts on all four corners and sway bars, front and rear.

This ESI-R comes in the very desirable livery of silver metallic, complemented by a charcoal black interior. Coachwork looks excellent. The car is rust free and straight as an arrow. There are absolutely no dents or bubbles anywhere. Due to the 1994 earthquake and what looked to be an unfortunate garage run-in with a lawn mower, there is some inpainting, but most of the finish is still the original first coat, applied 31 years ago at the factory in Japan. Rims are the factory-correct 16 x 7 five-lug, five-spoke alloys, displaying few signs of age and wear.

Cockpit could have been lifted straight out of a Star Wars movie. The Starion ESI-R was not a cheap automobile as it was loaded with all the bells and whistles available at the time, including - but not limited to - air conditioning, cruise control, speed sensing windshield wipers, rear wiper and electric defogger, 4-wheel power dics brakes, tilt wheel, power steering, windows, door locks, mirrors and antenna. Full set of analog gauges is aided by LCD and digital displays, soft touch buttons, orange soft glow lighting, and all manner of other 1980s stuff that really date this pocket rocket to the period.

Best of all, e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g works as it should, including the air conditioning and the premium audio system.

Adjustable for height, rake, angle, lumbar, knee support, and with variable side bolsters, these must be the most comfortable leather chairs in a sports car, ever!

Articulated rear leather buckets provide space for two additional passengers. Needless to mention, perhaps, the interior has remained in immaculate condition.

California "sunset" license plate dates back to 1986.


Having been stored indoors all of its life, undriven, it's safe to assume that the car has been wet only a handful of times. Hence, there's no corrosion to be found anywhere. The spotless undercarriage is truly of reference quality. We'd like to call it "ready for show."

Detail shots confirm the outstanding state of preservation.

Tuesday, October 24th was a bright and sunny day here in our little mission town of San Buenaventura, and we were looking forward to put the ESI-R through its paces.

The car starts, idles, runs, shifts, handles and brakes just like you would expect it from a sub-10k-mile vehicle. It's a bit like time travel, actually. You almost expect to meet Marty McFly in his DeLorean around the corner . . .

In a nutshell, it's a whole bunch of fun to drive this classic turbo. The car represents a rare opportunity to experience mid-1980s technology just the way it was meant to be, back in its heyday.

Returning home, we are smiling. The Starion ESI-R is as exciting to drive as it is to look at (and to be seen in).

Not many of these hot hatchbacks were sold in the U.S. when new. Of those, precious few have survived the ravages of time. Finding another one with less than 10,000 miles on the odometer might be close to impossible. Oppportunity knocks but once . . .

Videos:

Walkaround

Startup

Driveby 1

Driveby 2

Freeway driving


RETURN TO THE SHOWROOM


You are most welcome to inspect this fine automobile at our location in Ventura, by appointment, or have someone inspect it for you.
Please, direct all inquiries to bill@californiaclassix.com or call us at 805-653-5551.