Stored 20 Years: Rust-Free 1973 Dodge Colt

A lot of us have lived long enough to remember Chrysler’s early-1970s foray into rebadging small cars in order to compete with what GM and Ford were offering at the time. This rust-free, two-owner 1973 Dodge Colt is a rebadged Mitsubishi and it can be found here on craigslist in gorgeous Olympia, Washington. The seller is asking $4,000 for this rare little car and another parts car.

Who among the Barn Finds readers remembers the U.S. oil embargo and related gas crisis in the early-1970s? At the time, both Ford and GM had small cars in development well before there was a gas crunch but Chrysler was still banking on big land-barges. They tried competing with Ford and GM by importing the Hillman Avenger as the Plymouth Cricket but it didn’t work well. Chrysler’s hook-up with Mitsubishi in 1971 was a fairly long-term marriage made in heaven. Because of that, we received the rebadged Mitsubishi Colt Galant – now known as the Dodge Colt. If I were in rabid car-buying mode like I was a couple of years ago, this one would be gone already, packed onto a trailer heading east. Now, I’m in rabid garage-building mode so I have to pass on this great little car and it’s painful because rust-free examples just don’t show up that often.

This car appears to be rock solid which is somewhat mind-blowing given how quickly rust appeared on these cars. There are a few dings and a couple of small dents that shouldn’t be a huge thing to massage out, and it’s not only rust-free but it’s a two-owner car that has been stored inside for the last 20 years. For those of you who are cueing up the “It wasn’t worth $4,000 new!” or “Take off a zero then maybe…” comments, yeah, not really. But, it’s great that you gave it the ol’ college try to get your quota in for the month. Vintage Japanese cars are hot and a rust-free second-generation Colt is not a $400 car, no matter what they sold for when you were a teenager. This is 2019, not 1979.

The seller has provided quite a few photos but sadly there are no engine photos and there are none showing the back seat. They did show a crazy load of parts that go with the sale here. There is a black car shown in the listing and they say that it was disassembled for parts since it was far too rusty to save. There is an extra engine, which should be Mitsubishi’s 4G32, a 1.6L inline-four with 85 hp. There is no word at all on if this car runs but it shouldn’t be too hard to get it running if it isn’t now. Finding any rust-free vintage Japanese car from this era is great, in my opinion. Given the solid condition of this Colt and the number of extra parts that come with it, is this a good buy or is it good-bye?

Like This? Get Our Daily Email

Comments

  1. Rocco B.

    I agree with you Scotty on the quotas. Some people have to meet their monthly goals at any cost!

    Like 7
  2. Zack

    Sweet!!!!!

    Like 5
  3. David P. Reeves

    As a Millennial/Generation “Z” (b. 1999, whatever they’re calling us now) and being from a classic Ford family, this is the first I’ve ever seen or heard of one of these! It’s a cutie, that’s for sure. I didn’t realize the Chrysler-Mitsubishi collaboration was that early, I thought it formed between the gas crunches when Chrysler really started going down the tubes. (To be fair, the big three as a whole suffered between 1973 and 1979 in build quality and sales) My initial concern with buying something like this would be finding parts, but it looks like the seller has done that for you. I’d make it as reliable as possible and have a rare and economical daily driver.

    Like 11
    • Royal Ricci

      Millennials are Gen Y 1982 to 2007.

      Like 1
  4. irocrobb

    My first car was a 1974 Colt like this one. Only had it a couple months and rolled it. I came out okay but the car was a right off. I think I paid 1200 in 1978.
    I like this one…

    Like 3
    • David

      Had a 1976 colt that I bought from the Chrysler dealership I worked at in the early 80’s. It was a trade in with a blown head gasket. Paid $75 . New head gasket and it was a great car. Couldn’t kill it. Brings back memories.lol

  5. Shawn Fox Firth

    Sweeet ! How about a ’18 Jeep Hurricane 2.0 Turbo swap ?

    Like 2
  6. DrewP

    How about keeping it as is!

    Oh, that’s right, gas is cheap.

    Like 8
    • PatrickM

      Not in Maryland, it ain’t! Washington, D. C. area.

  7. john

    had a red one with two kids and a wife in the seventies… we called it speed buggy…hahahahah…great little car then

    Like 4
    • Tiberius1701

      Vroom-A-Zoom-Zoom!!! :-)

  8. Winnipegcarnut Member

    Nice. I seem to like most of the Chrysler captive imports: Sapporo/Challenger, Colt, Arrow(esp. Fire Arrow!), Starion/Conquest…

    Like 2
  9. TomV

    Owned one! Bought it new in December of 73 for $2695 cdn. So basic, not even a radio or carpet. The front fenders bubbled up with rust in less than 2 years! Traded it for an MG Midget, hmmmm…..

    Like 2
  10. Suttree

    10x the car the that the same vintage Plymouth Cricket was.

    Like 4
    • LT1 Mike

      With gas pushing 3 bucks a gallon in the northeast , this would still be a good car for going back and forth to work. I remember these little cars well and I always liked their design and still do, good luck to the new owner.

      Like 5
      • karl

        They didn’t last up here in the northeast , they rusted horribly like most imports did at the time and had an early trip to the junkyards. You’d be lucky to get 5 years out of one . Its pretty cool to see a survivor though !

        Like 2
  11. Alex T

    My mother bought one brand new in ’73, a station wagon. I drove it as a teenager and it was zippy with the manual transmission. I really liked it.

    Like 3
  12. Billy1

    I remember seeing a few of these running around with Mazda rotary engines.

  13. Rick

    It’s a $1,500 car.

  14. Mark

    My dad had a 71Colt 4-door with automatic. Bought it fall of 1973. Was my car for the first few months of my driving career. Fall 75-Feb 76 when my dad bought me a car a little more to my liking. Besides the Colt was very undependable. More often than not you had to smack the starter to get it started. Then take the floor shift apart and clean the electrical contacts once a month.

    Sold it to a neighbor. He fixed all the electrical issues and put a for sale sign on it. Back to our house it came for another round with me. Nice dependable automobile. Not a lick of trouble from 1977-78.

    We sold it to a neighbor to make room for a one owner 67 Chevelle wagon a lady at church had. Her son bought her a new 78 Malibu.

    So the Colt went to another neighbor that had a son my age. I told son that the car had an oil leak and check the oil every time he got gas.

    Well three weeks later KABOOM. Blew the motor.

    Nice memories.

    Like 4
  15. Howard A Member

    Scotty knows how I feel about Asian cars, but I don’t care who you are, you have to admit, this is pretty cool. ’70’s was a rough time, I remember it well. Gas skyrocketed, from like .30 cents to over a buck a gallon,( that would be like, $1.79 to almost $6 bucks today) that’s a substantial increase, and Japan caught us with our pants down and these cars were a knee-jerk reaction to bring anybody into the US showrooms until an American car could be built. The K car was years away, they had to do something. These were on par with the Corollas or Datsuns, pretty basic cars, but boy-howdy, they got good mileage, and people just put up with the tinny doors, lousy seats, crummy ride and poor heaters. Like all the Asian cars of the period, they didn’t last long, rusted terribly and I remember, before truck APU’s ( aux. power unit) many truckers mounted these motors behind the sleeper, and worked rather well for peanuts. I don’t know what these are worth, but it’s fun to see one again, and not with fenders and doors flapping.

    Like 1
  16. Todd Fitch Staff

    I like it! The 85 HP would have been pretty zippy in those days when some V8 barges had under 150. At one point you could order up a full-sized LeSabre with a 115 HP V6, and this car could fit in the Buick’s trunk. A neighbor had a Cricket back in the day but I didn’t know about these. So Mitsubishi already had the name “Colt” and Dodge adopted it? I never put that together. Thanks for bringing this one, Scotty! As always your affinity for interesting small cars serves as a reminder for some of us and an education for all.

    Like 3
  17. Ted

    Bahahahaha………I drove one of these in the 70’s, after beating on cheap Corollas the Colt seemed like driving an F1 car, but let’s not talk about oversteer..

    Like 1
  18. Dave Mika Member

    I like it, but I’m already thinking of a way to shoehorn a Chv small-block in it…

  19. JRG

    Bought one new in ’71, paid $1 a pound ($1973) ordered/ installed the road race suspension package and had a riot at autocrosses. Came with an even 100 h.p. so with a header and cam swap could terrorize Pinto’s, Vega’s etc. on Woodward.
    Rust wasn’t a problem due to spray bombing rust proofing myself. Put about 250,000 miles on it before it wore out!

    Like 2
  20. Rob K

    Ohhh some great memories were made with my friends and a 1976 Colt GT that I got from my sister about 1982. Drove it to high school and loved it except for the auto transmission. If it had had a stick, it would have been perfect but it was still fairly quick, handled better than my dad’s truck, and got great gas mileage for a poor high school student with little money. The best part was it was light enough that when I got stuck at the beach, 2 teenagers could push it out. I made the mistake of racing with a Mustang and was unaware of the importance of checking the oil regularly. I knew something was wrong when it started overheating and sure enough, I had done damage resulting in a seized engine. We got the engine rebuilt but I was driving something else by then and sold it to someone who immediately pulled the engine and put it in a Courier or maybe a Chevy Luv. I still miss that car.

    Like 1
  21. Doug

    I had the pleasure of driving a ’76 Colt with the 2.6 engine in 1979-80. It handled the grades over Donner Pass with no effort, got great mileage, and was an enjoyable car – not as much fun as my ’71 Volvo 142s ( which had some IPD
    suspension goodies ) on twisty roads, but a very competent drive around town, on freeways and mountain roads alike.

    Like 1
  22. Jon G

    Remember the NHRA Pro Stock version of these? 499ci Hemi stuffed in front with a Lenco 4 speed.

    Like 1
  23. Dave Wallace Jr.

    Scariest match-race Pro Stock combo ever was the 426 Colt. Don Carlton died in one of his.

    Like 4
  24. Jon Rappuhn

    Bought a new 2dr hdtp 4spd in 72, put almost 200,000 mi. on it in 3 years, other than tuneups and LOF’s, had no problems, body or mechanical, great mileage, great fun. Sister bought a new 74 like it, as her first car. She still has it, her 3 kids used it as 1st car, husband commuted in it (150+ miles a day), almost 450,000 miles on it, still will start, run roughly and has faded original paint. Has a little rust but solid. They plan on restoring it (after they finish their Volare Roadrunner).

    Like 1
  25. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    SM clone ?

  26. John C.

    I have the same basic car, only a 71,all original, with factory AC and automatic, from Cali, same color, 76K miles, mine has a few less dents than this one. According to the dodge colt website there are less than 500 71-73 Colts left in America. That will easily bring 4k. I turned down 5k for mine. It doesn’t take up much room and I’m not really ready to sell it yet.

    • Jesse Mortensen Staff

      @John C. – Send it into the site when you are. Thanks!

      • Jonathan

        I recently found one of these in a garage that hasn’t seen the light of day since 76. It’s a roller, but it has 0 rust in it. I’d post a pic but I don’t see how lol.

    • Jose rios

      Looking for parts passenger door window

  27. Louis Q. Chen

    This car brought back good memories for me. I help a friend of mine in 1973 buy one, it was a Colt GT with stripes and vinyl interior, 5 spd., and it cost him $2300! This car was good runner and didn’t used too much gas as well! I don’t remember how many horses the engine had but it had good pick up speed. The only scary thing about this car was the sheet metal was very thin. Luckily my friend was a good driver so no accidents till the day 1985 the Colt GT rusted out completely! We miss that car! Too bad this rust free example is too far away for my friend and I to go to Memory Lane and make a bid for $800?.

  28. Bob

    My 76 Colt, 72K, 1600 4 spd. Survivor (which is incredible because it lives in Nova Scotia, salt air, salt on the winter roads). Not a speed demon but up to 40 mpg. In 1976 I was in “Boot Camp” and the Colt sold for $4000 which was more than I made in a year!

    Like 1
  29. Lance

    I BOUGHT IT !!! Have been looking for a 71-73 colt to replace my wifes first car she had 30 years ago. This one is a winner. Tons of extra parts. Some surface rust but all easily fixed. I got it to start and it has 60 PSI oil pressure. A few thing to address before it’s roadworthy (brakes, hoses, belts, fluid change, tires…) but I’ve only seen one other survivor colt in this good condition.

    Like 7
    • Andy

      If you need any parts, I have about 8-10 parts cars in Colorado

      • Clarence Mac namara

        Would you have a rear bumper for a 1976 colt

      • kingman gallagher

        HI!
        I’ve got a 72 project in great shape (except for all the rust)
        Looking for some metal sections and the clamshell on the steering column.
        The rust on mine is starts at the trunk seal down and the whole trunk floor is pretty well shot.
        Also the rear quarters behind the wheels are rusted through.
        Would you consider cutting on your parts cars?
        thanks,
        KC
        510-207-3135
        I’m in portland, or

    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      What?! I missed this message, Lance! That is great news, congratulations! Please let us know how it goes in bringing it back to life again, although it sounds like it really was in great shape.

      Like 2
    • Jose rios

      Looking for the 73’s new owner I need parts lowco@yahoo.com

    • Jose

      Looking for 71-73 colt parts

    • Jose

      Nice im looking for some parts contact me

  30. LaVette

    sooo love it!! i own and drive daily a 1978 colt, she’s my lil punkin seed, she is a roller skate on steroids!! i mob around 60mph and she still get’s around 40mpg i have had it now for 7-8 years, it was a 2 owner car when i got, in great shape!! it had 78000 miles on it and i drive the hell out of this lil thing, up to 150,000 now :) she takes a lick’n and keeps on tick’n!! i have it at the mopar nat’s every year, this year(2019) she will be there july 21st woodburn oregon!! anyone want to chat,BS or see pic.s of her, email me!! life is good in the upper left, USA

    Like 2
  31. Jose rios

    Hey Andy Jose here reach out to me lowco1964@yahoo.com 773-406-6333

  32. LaVette

    Hay, LaVette here. Some real bad news:( I got T-boned in my lil seed, 78′ colt. Is there anybody out there that can help me find another 78′, I can’t live without her!!! Any info would be great!! I’m looking for a whole car. I can build again!!

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks. Don't post your car for sale in the comments. Click here to get it featured on the homepage instead.

*

Notify me of new comments via email. Or subscribe without commenting.