$2,700 4WD 5-Speed: 1986 Dodge Colt Vista

Scotty GilbertsonBy Scotty Gilbertson

I haven’t seen one of these 4WD wagons in years, maybe decades. This is a 1986 Dodge Colt Vista and it’s on Craigslist with an asking price of $2,700. A lot of money has gone into maintaining this vehicle. Now, about that exterior…

These were great vehicles, no really! Just talk to almost anyone who owned one. Of course, as always, there will have been bad experiences with them just like with any other vehicle on earth. Chrysler was in a long-term-relationship (as they say) with Mitsubishi and this is one of their offspring. It’s a rebadged and tweaked Mitsubishi Chariot, a first-generation model and Dodge offered them in the model years between 1984 and 1991. This is considered one of the first crossover vehicles due to it’s “tall-wagon” proportions and available 4WD system. This was normally a front-drive vehicle but with the 4WD option the driver could press a button on the shifter and the rear wheels would engage.

There’s the red button on the shifter to engage the 4WD. This is also a 5-speed which is even more unusual and desirable, at least for myself and a few thousand (hundred?) others who like to shift for him/herself. The interior has a medley of configuration options and this is a seven-passenger vehicle, sort of like a minivan and sort of like a big wagon. This Colt Vista only had two owners previously, the original owner and his brother who, unfortunately, sanded the exterior to get it ready for paint. You can see that the painting project never went farther than making the exterior look like heck.

This is Mitsubishi’s 4G63, 2.0L with around 88 hp. It’s not a lot of power but with that 5-speed manual and this vehicle weighing “only” 2900 pounds, it shouldn’t feel like you’re holding everyone else up on the road. The seller has done a lot of maintenance on this Colt with the only thing being left being that pesky, dull exterior. I’m not sure if I would do anything to the exterior, but that’s just me. Have any of you owned a 4WD Colt Vista? Would you restore the exterior or just drive it as is? I think this would make a heck of a winter vehicle for those of us in the snow belt.

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  1. Jeff Lavery Jeff Staff

    I’d still take a Civic RT wagon with AWD, but I wouldn’t turn this one down as a winter beater, either.

  2. Staab

    It would make a unique beach cruiser.

  3. Al

    I’d like my old Subaru Wagon with the similar type push button on the shift for the 4WD. Thing got me about 30 a gallon with the Thule roof rack and skis.

  4. Dennis

    Where is the car located?

    • David Wilk Staff

      Portland, Oregon. That is why it has not disintegrated into a pile of rust. I am one of those fools who bought one of these new. Kind of a ‘worst of all possible worlds’ car. Not excellent at anything. Sorry Scotty, I know you love these oddities. This one better in theory than in practice I am afraid. I don’t think it’s been worth $2700 since about 1990.

  5. Stang1968

    I drove one of these about 12 years ago for a winter. It’s was a decent car in the snow. We used it on logging trails and dirt roads and it made it through all the snow of North Idaho just fine. spring thaw would get pretty muddy but the Colt still handled it.

  6. JamestownMike

    And this is on Barn Finds because?? I thought this was all about BARN FINDS!……..hello!

  7. Alan (Michigan)

    NOT a 4G63!
    That engine was a 2.0 DOHC. This is a SOHC motor!

    I drove an extremely low miles FWD version of this car just a couple of years ago, when car-hunting for one of my college-age sons. Even if it had been as nice as advertised, and actually ran well (needed carburetor work, IMO), I’d have likely passed. It just struck me as being extremely lightweight and fragile, very unlikely to do well in any kind of potentially injurious accident. As a DD? Kind of scary, actually.

    The Colt Vista/Mitsubishi Expo/Eagle Summit to have, if you want AWD, is the one from the early 90’s, IMO. I love the Mitsubishi imports, currently own 3 ’89’s. But be aware, these earlier series were “tin car” years. I don’t like them.

  8. Eskild

    In Europe this is named Mitsubishi Spacewagon 2.0 GLX……horribel automatic transmission on these cars.

  9. Bill in Ontario

    I bought one of these new. Only car I ever bought using totally objective criteria with no emotional connection. Worst new car I ever owned!!!!. Terrible quality.

  10. Bryan

    A friend of mine owned one of these years ago….funny story. She was driving down the interstate, and her little boy in the back seat yelled at her and pointed at a wheel that was rolling past the car as she slowed. Turned out it was her rear tire & wheel…and the car didn’t drop to the ground!

  11. chad

    is that weber?
    drop in a bigger 1, beef up the breaks…
    the CONCEPT sure sounds good (but ’80s mopowr?).

  12. John

    Why expose it to a northern winter’s salt as a DD? If you need an AWD DD get a beater Subaru or CRV and keep this thing alive.

  13. Wayne

    I was a Service manager at a Dodge/Chrysler dealer when these were new. I always was a Mitsubishi fan. (being an ex-rally driver). But these were junk when they were new! Wheel bearing failures at 6,000 miles, transmission/transaxle failures at 10,000 miles, and the list goes on. The fact that this thing is still running is a testament to the determination of the owner.
    I love different non-popular vehicles. (I will even build/modify/change one to be that way. But I would never even glance at one of these.

  14. That Guy

    Ray Magliozzi’s favorite car!


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