Once again, hello, howdy and such greetings to the Year of Hasegawa. Last one of these full articles was about the ’91 Suzuki Jimny, this one will be about the 1971 Mitsubishi Colt Galant. I’ve written two articles about this kit, in fact. The other is on the 1976 GTO 2000GSR on which I wrote pretty much at the same time. Generally, the two kits are very similar other than the fact that it has different tail lights, non-chrome bumper corners, different C-pillar air vents, so forth. One thing you might notice right away about this kit is the popping, eye-bleeding bright orange – which is extremely nice. It’s a thick plastic so it won’t necessarily bleed through any dark paints from the other side but heed my advice and primer the fucker anyway and roll with Tamiya TS-98 which is a deeper, slightly better orange all in all that will reflect much better in natural sunlight.
Another nice thing is the pre-colored stuff in black. Most of the interior of the original ’71 Colt Galant was pretty much black, living up to the spartan inspired American interiors of the early seventies which were usually jet black or popping white so having them pre-colored in black is excellent. It’s still a slightly shiny compound on account of the plastic being, well, plastic but with a single light coat of a semi-gloss black you got yourself half the work with twice the quality. The body is crisply cast, not an ounce of flash(benefits of the first run, yo!) and overall feels like a nice and sturdy plastic that can handle a good amount of punishment. What is even more impressive is the utter lack of mold-lines and cast-lines, there’s none to be found that were even noticeable before painting.
Another thing I wish model kit makers from the west would steal is the two-piece wheels. Boy oh boy they are delightful to work with and always, no matter what, look way better than a one piece wheel. The trim ring is separate from the cast-iron wheel and painting it is literally as easy as can be thanks to it. Strangely enough in the later releases of the 1973 and 1976 Colt Galant kits, the trim rings are no longer chromed, so get a Molotow pen ready! Speaking of the chrome tree, there’s a whole bundle of emblems that are nice, thick and detailed perfectly. They’re a little too slabby to match the real deal, which is especially visible on the 1976 GTO 2000GSR where the MCA-80 emblem(for the MCA-80 engine, the new I4 2.0L powerplant introduced that year) and the MCA emblem(Mitsubishi Clean Air emissions system) are quite noticeably too tall for their respective places and arguably would’ve been more realistic with a metal transfer and a color decal. But y’know what, it’s just small little things like those. They’re still delightfully detailed, look awesome and you could shave the back down with a sharp knife if this is something that bothers you enough to do so.
The interior, unlike some of the other kits, has not at all been overshadowed. Where I complained that the door card detail on the Honda Civic and the Suzuki Jimny were close to non-existent, the Colt Galant has plentiful detail even in areas where you won’t see it. The dashboard especially is just mind-bogglingly well done, like standing ovation worthy. There’s roughly seventeen decals alone dedicated to the dash, from gauges to button faces to wood trim to heater settings and emblems. It covers the whole lot and it is fucking amazing. Like I said, there’s a lot of Hasegawa kits that do the interior detail way up to 11 as well but there’s always something that is then underwhelming. Either the door cards are undetailed or there’s no seat backs, that sort of thing. This kit on the other hand, the entire interior is accounted for and then some. You get a chassis/interior plate with separate door panels, seat fronts and backs, even a very well detailed ceiling console. It’s this level of detail that makes me hope that Hasegawa gives this one the “high detail” treatment they’re slowly doing for their HC-Series kits. The engine bay has the basic pillar structure already with the suspension mounts having reasonable detail with the nuts visible, and it basically looks like a 3D modeler leaving empty space for a future project. The walls and backs are there, but the void is empty yet.
The chassis detail is once again where a lot of the R&D money went. The body and interior are spectacular, as they are and as they should be given their in-your-face placement, but the chassis is usually never looked upon. Well, Hasegawa still thinks that deserves the full detail treatment. Unfortunately this is one of those kits where the engine block is molded to the chassis, which is unusual as in most cases on these kits it’s not but, who knows. It’s not the end of the world, it’d have been nicer if it was an insert a-la Nissan Sunny but, no reason to mope. The leaf springs have a really good detail to them, the brake pads for the front wheels are extremely well done and my favorite part is the simplification of the suspension set up on the leaf springs – there’s no reason to make those separate other than to increase the parts count. This makes them more sturdy, allows you to actually put some force on when the wheels need to be shoved on, where on any other kit you’d immediately collapse the suspension as its a 0.5mm thick bar holding back several pounds of pressure from a human hand. The best way I can summarize the chassis is ‘excellent’. It’s got high detail but not a inflated parts count, it looks and acts the part without sacrificing structural integrity and above all else, it’s a pleasant, easy to put together kind of gig.
Why no huge block of text dedicated to the Colt Galant, like in the other ones? Well, I’ll be totally honest with you – I know the square root of jack shit when it comes to the Colt. I can regurgitate the Wikipedia articles ’til the chickens come home but, it’s not gonna make me sound like any less of a witless nut. I mean, I know plenty of the Colt but I really, really know just shy of nothing of the Galant. The Colt was sold here in Europe since the late seventies and it was quite honestly everywhere, in its 3-door form, its 5-door form, they were all over the place. Heck, my neighbor has the cute little 2009 Colt with the tall roof and shopping cart wheels. But the Colt Galant? Well, just like the first series of Skylines, they rarely made it outside of right hand drive markets for obvious reasons and even then, this was before the export boom of the Japanese manufacturers. That being said though, the Colt did make it to the States in droves with Mitsubishi’s legendary deal with Chrysler Corp. to start selling them as captive imports under the Dodge and Plymouth brands, but Europe never really saw the Colt Galant in its “higher tier” glory. Though no country other than Japan, New Zealand and a handful of other Asian countries got the little Asian Mustang that could; the Colt Galant GTO.
The GTO was a special edition developed by Mitsubishi’s in house tuner ‘MRD'(Mitsubishi Racing Development) to eventually see racing at the Fuji GP but of course in ’73, just hardly a year and a half into the car’s lifespan, the oil crisis struck and the program was shuttered. That said though, they had developed a car that had international flair and domestic genius under the hood. Designed by Hiroaki Kamisago, one of Mitsubishi’s designers who was sent off to the U.S. to study at the Art Center of College Design in Los Angeles and boy can you tell that the man was inspired. It’s like a greatest hits of Americana, muscle cars and contemporary styling all smashed into one. It has the aforementioned spartan, yet overly luxurious interior that was famous on high-end muscle car models, it has the fastback design popularized by the Mustang with the short, ducktail deck and the long hood, it has the aggressive front end styling of a Dodge Challenger with the quad lights and recessed headlamps on a black grille, it has the pillar-less windows which was also a very American styling cue to have, and it just goes on. It’s all of the best of American design interwoven with Japanese efficiency and excellency. While the highest-scale Americans would’ve packed a 7 liter V8, or a 440 or 426 for y’all Imperialists, the Galant GTO’s largest and most peppy engine would be a 1600cc DOHC inline four with a five speed manual attached to it. And that was designed to go with the highest, best tier GTO they could have which is the very star of this article: the MR.
But Jesus Christ on a bike was it quick. It weighed less than a thousand kilograms, or roughly 2145LBS, it had 125 horsepower and a rated top speed of close to 200km/h(125mp/h) and it reached half of that in slightly over nine seconds. Okay, I can hear the glasses tumble to the floor from shocked readers… Yeah, that isn’t particularly great. Contemporary models in say, 1970 like the American Plymouth ‘Cuda would do it in six seconds with a HEMI, the Mustang Mach 1 would do it in roughly the same time, the European cousins like the ’70 Porsche 911 S would take about seven and the BMW 2002 tii would be just shy of nine seconds. So it wasn’t the fastest necessarily, but it was still deathly quick. Keep in mind, this thing weighed as much as small two door grocery getters do today. It was nippy, it handled great and it was actually quite well loved in the country of Japan. They didn’t push it for exports, not like the basic Colt, unfortunately and it only really ever saw international fame in New Zealand where it became, just like in Japan, a staple in rally racing for a few years. And truthfully, that’s about all she wrote for the Galant GTO. It was altered with new front and rear fascia’s in 1973, and the front received one more update in 1975 while the rest stayed mostly the same other than some contemporary styling cues like blacked out trim and such. The engine received some more updated through the seventies to make it more efficient, less bad for the environment and generally just adjusted to survive the oil crisis post ’73, but it didn’t last unfortunately. Sales weren’t great to start with, as it was the top of the line model, it was a toy for the more rich among the folks and after 1973 when the oil crisis laid a faux pas on owning gas guzzlers it may as well have worn signs ‘don’t buy me’.
I’ll tell you one thing right away, those aforementioned fascia changes, they have been translated into model kits. Just about each and every available Colt Galant has been turned into a kit by Hasegawa. As of July ’21, they have the 1970 GTO-MII, the entry model and the 1971 GTO-MR. Then the facelifted 1973 GTO 2000GSR, the 1975 face-lift GTO 2000GSR and released in between models with some extras like the ’73-’76 with window louvres(which you can read about here) and the early version with late version parts with a chin spoiler, again spanning the ’73-’75 years. Effectively, they’ve covered every possible model you can fathom and you could theoretically already make a MII model with the ’71 with the spare parts on the chrome tree and the decals. Just need the stripes to make it a true MII, but you know, such is life.
The 1971 GTO-MR, in my humble opinion is the magnum opus of the Colt Galant GTO series. It’s the most aggressive in styling, the most beautiful in its strange but weirdly lovable American look, its twin tail light look, the wrap around stripes, it just looks the best. Hasegawa made sure that every nook and cranny was looked after, and it goes together like a true charm. Like I said in the beginning of the article, having wheels with separate trim rings is a god-send and the headlamp assembly is just nothing short of beautifully thought out. I’m one of those people who think that a shitty head and tail light assembly can make or break a model’s realistic look. Chrome plated headlights on MPC and AMT models make me wince and shallow-bucketed headlights ala Revell’s 1983-1985 Cutlass kits make it look off in a strange way. It all works, on this kit. Again, this is one of those articles where I can ramble on for years on end on how good the kit is, and it really, really is so, you know, go on a rampage of Hasegawa kits with me, lets go! But in all honesty, it’s easier to just point out the flaws since there are so few of them.
Flaw number one comes in on the front fascia, and I’ve encountered it with both the ’71 and the ’76 models now. It just, just barely doesn’t fit flush. It’s a little too short on either end and the back end of the grille rubs against the radiator so it might take some shaving off of some plastic to get it to sit better. I didn’t do it on either occasion cause I assumed it was just a me problem, but it really might be the grille being a tiny bit too short on either end and a little too deep on the back. Flaw number two is a little more significant but not a issue at all if you’re prepared. Both sets of side marker lights do not fit the bezels on the body, even without paint. They’re quite literally exactly cut from the body’s 3D model so they’re just too perfectly shaped to fit after plastic injection. Shaving off a tiny, tiny bit, like not even a tenth of a millimeter will make it fall in place perfectly, just make sure you got no paint on the sides lest you wanna cut off more. Third is just a quality of life issue. The dashboard has a separate top which you simply attach to the dash while putting it together, however the locator strip for the top to rest on is so small and thin, you may as well be solving a Rubik’s cube with your fucking elbow. Solution? Well, locator pins or positive strips would’ve been nice, but it’s again just a small, little niggle. Why it is a separate piece is beyond me, but again, not necessarily a complaint at all even.
But… that’s it. This really, really is Hasegawa’s finest work. I knew from the get-go that this was going to be a pleasant one to put together, as they so often are but, holy shit these guys have hit a home run. Everything about this kit is wonderful, from how it just falls together with ease, to quality of life hacks like separate trim rings and caps for the wheels, how the headlight buckets work, how the emblems are embossed chrome parts, how the detail of the lights still makes me have tingles in funny places, it’s just… so damn good. I wanted to mimic a more aggressive look that I spotted on a sale on a New Zealand Mecum-esque website of a ’71 Colt Galant GTO-MR with BF Goodrich tires and black wheels(it sold for nearly one hundred and twenty thousand US dollar, goddamn) but opted for Excentia GT over Radial GT tires in stead. They’re more period appropriate, or well rather they would fit a 1980s tire replacement as that type of font mid eighties, but still. And of course, Excentia tires were for smaller, less wide wheels specifically so it was a nice little homage to the small tires. The Tamiya TS-98 paint really, really pops in the sunlight, like mind-bogglingly so and it has a good sheen to it even without a thick clear-coat.
All in all, this kit now firmly stands at the top of my list of best kits out there. It’s curbside, point against, sure. But there’s hardly a kit out there that is this pleasant to build, this good to look at and best of all, makes you feel like your input even at the worst, amateurish level has delivered something that the best modelers out there would be making. The ride height is perfect, the level of detail is astonishing, the results look amazing, the quality of life of the entire thing is unparalleled and, fuck, I’m a broken record here. I’d better go get the ice bucket and cool off, huh.
’71 Mitsubishi Colt Galant GTO-MR specifications:
Kit: Historic Series #28(HC-28)
Skill Level: N/A
Molded in: Orange & Black