$2,500 Or Offer: 1979 Plymouth Sapporo

This 1979 Plymouth Sapporo was tracked down by Pat L., thanks, Pat! This captive import is listed on the Kijiji website for a very reasonable $2,500 or best offer. Get your passport ready if you’re south of the border, the Canadian border that is; this one is in Dawson Creek, British Columbia, Canada.

My wife’s sister’s first car was, coincidentally, was the sister car to the Sapporo, the Dodge Challenger! I mean, the Mitsubishi Galant Λ (Lambda) captive-import version, not the classic Dodge Challenger that we all know and love. Unlike this car, which is an automatic, her car was a 5-speed, which she didn’t even know how to drive. I like that spunk, can’t even drive a stick but wanted it anyway!

You can see a few dings and scrapes on this car and the seller mentions minor rust and minor body damage, I’m assuming they’re talking about the scrapes shown on the two profile photos. They say that it was originally a “down south car”, which I’m guessing means the southern USA, not southern Canada. The Sapporo and Challenger from this era were both rebadged Mitsubishi Galant Λ (Lambda) imports. Chrysler partnered with Mitsubishi to have a couple of small vehicle options in the mix for an era of questionable oil supplies. The company was without a small vehicle when Chevy had the Vega and Ford had the Pinto. It could be argued that these cars were quite a bit more refined than the Pinto and Vega were, but time is the judge: you rarely see these cars anymore, but Vegas and Pintos still show up fairly often at car shows and parking lots, and on Barn Finds...

It’s unfortunate that this interior isn’t one of the more fancy fabric interiors that would have been available. But, it’s in great condition, just in need of a good cleaning.

This is the optional 2.6L Mitsubishi inline-four with around 105 hp, and from personal experience I can say that the one that I had in a Chrysler LeBaron was a great, trouble-free, smooth engine. But, hopefully, all of us know that one person’s experience does not equal the gospel truth for everyone in every case (hopefully we all know that?). This car has four-wheel disc brakes which was included with the 2.6 engine option along with power steering. In 1980, the previously-standard 1.6L inline-four was dropped and the 2.6L four would become the standard engine for all Sapporos and Challengers. A 5-speed manual would have been much nicer than an automatic, but this car will have more than enough pep for daily driving or road trips. Most of these cars have rusted away by now and I think that it’s nice to see a few of them still out there in the world.


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  1. Bingo

    Isn’t Sapporo a brand of beer?

  2. Flman

    Sapporo is a city in Japan. I owed this identical car except mine was metallic red. The later ’79 and ’80 versions came without silly metallic brushed chrome ‘targa’ trim on the roofline. I still think this is a very handsome body style. Only thing wrong visually was the 70s profile series tires which gave the car an odd fat tire stance.

  3. Fred W.

    I like the body style, not a bad looking car. Somewhere in the late 70’s Japanese mfr’s were thinking, “Wonder what we could do to American Yankee Dog car market if we made a higher quality car than theirs?”. And slowly through the 80’s they started rustproofing, doing serious R & D, adding power everything to second tier models, etc. By the early 90’s they were making rust free cars capable of 400K miles and the US mfr’s never knew what hit them until it was too late. I started buying Toyota, Nissan and Honda in the late 80’s as daily drivers. Never drove one that far due to getting the “trade itch” every 3 years or so, but never had to visit a repair shop once.


      ughh Nissan never mastered that rust thing.

      • RJ

        Yeah. Neither did Honda.

  4. Royal Ricci

    I had an 81 Plymouth Champ which had the larger 1.6L motor and it ran great. The Auto Tranny was the weak link which is what wound up killing the car.

    These Sapporo’s were also a great car and with the 2.6L engine I could see this being a nice little cruiser. Only thing with the 2.6 is to have the timing chain guide checked and replaced as they were prone to getting loose thereby allowing slack in the chain resulting in many a 2.6 motors getting destroyed and earning them a bad rep.

    Only other thing is Mitsubishi’s tend to leak oil whether it was my Champ or anyone else I knew who had one including the 2.6 in my Dad’s minivan.

    Good Luck to whomever buys this. It will be fun to own I am sure.

  5. Rock On Member

    Mazda seems to be lagging behind on the rustproofing also.

  6. Fred W.

    RE: the rust comments- are we talking vehicles from the last 20 years? Because I can’t remember the last rusted through car or truck I’ve seen from that period, even in the domestic makes. Maybe it’s because I live in Tennessee rather than the rust belt. But we do have road salt here sometimes.

  7. CarNut from Winnipeg Member

    I had one of these. First car, 1982 metallic gold 5 speed. Base model, vinyl edged seats with brown corduroyish centres. Rear drum brakes. I think this one here is a top of the line model, and possibly the seats are leather. Leather was definitely available in the Starion/Conquests that came soon after these. And, this one has been for sale for a few months now. I search Kijiji quite a lot and saw it months ago. If it was a 5 speed…maybe.

  8. Mark N

    Fred W. Up front, I want to say, I am not starting an argument. I just want to provide some food for thought. Do you have kids? Grandkids? Do you think if 60, 70, 80 or even 90% of the people in the US bought domestic brand vehicles you, your kids or grandkids lives would or will be better? Have more opportunity? Forget the argument that Toyota, VW, Honda, Nissan, etc. have manufacturing plants here as nearly 100% of those jobs are blue collar jobs. We Americans should strive for their kids and grandkids to have white collar jobs. As the money is better and they are usually much better educated. Further, where does the money go that is made by the sale of the products? Always back to corporate which is obviously back to their home country to create more white collar jobs (as well as blue). I’ve bought only US designed, engineered and built cars for over 20 years now (I too use to think the quality of Japanese vehicles were best for me-but are they really?). I then started to buy only US brand vehicles and I have had little to no trouble. Back in the late nighties, Chevrolet and Toyota built a car in their joint venture plant NUMMI in CA. Chevrolet marketed a car under the newly formulated GEO brand name called Prizm. Prizm got a horrible reputation for many different reasons but basically it was all bogus. Toyota sold the exact same car rolling off the exact same assembly line called the Sprinter Cielo. The Toyota product outsold the Prizm 3 to 1, had a much better reputation and had a much better resale value. Too late? It was in 2009 for sure, the year they filed for bankruptcy. Today, I’d say GM, Chrysler (which is 1/2 owned by Fiat) and Ford build as good and in some cases better vehicles as any. So, again, do you have kids? Grandkids? Or if you’re younger, yourself, don’t you want more opportunity here? Are you an American worker working in the US? Let us all work toward making more opportunities for all of us in the US. Trust me, we will all be better off.

  9. Frozenbird

    I had an ’82 back in the day, bought it used and it was the newest vehicle I had ever owned at that point (late 80’s). My buddy had a ’82 Celica and bragged all the time how much faster his car was. So we raced head to head on a beautiful straight open highway, he topped out a 80 mph and I crept past him at 82 mph with the pedal mashed to the floor giving me all she had. My current ’16 Jeep Wrangler can give me 80 in 4th with still two other gears to go, my how things have changed!

    • CarNut from Winnipeg Member

      I definitely got a ticket for more than 82 in mine.

  10. David Betz

    My first car was a brown 79 one with this interior….198k miles of hell it took…on and off road…3o mpg with the 5sp traded in 1984 for a Nissan 4×4 k/c…

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