Twin-Stick Champ: 1982 Plymouth Champ

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This Japanese-American combo is a 1982 Plymouth Champ and it’s located in Pasadena, Texas. It can be found on eBay where the unmet starting bid is $1,000. There are still over three days left to warn your spouse that you have her/his new car coming soon…

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This fourth-generation Plymouth Champ is, as you all probably know, really a Mitsubishi Mirage with Plymouth badging. Or, with Dodge Colt badging if you chose a Dodge over a Plymouth. This is actually somewhat of a rare model since the four-door hatchback was only offered in 1982 with a little over 22,000 of them being made. I can’t imagine that a lot of them are still running around. Not that a statement like “rare model” will ever win anyone over: “rare doesn’t mean valuable” – I just thought I’d get that out of the way before it comes up, several times. I’m not sure what’s going on here with the JDM-style (Japanese Domestic Market) mirrors on the front fenders/wings, they’re only shown that way in this one photo.

The seller mentions that this car has 469,423 miles on it! But, in looking at the odometer, see if you can figure out why that’s a bit confusing, at least it is for me.

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The interior looks like new! This car has the famous “Twin Stick” with a power and economy mode. It was one of three manual transmission options for these cars, with the others being a regular 4-speed and 5-speed. The Twin-Stick had a transfer case and it effectively offered 8 forward and 2 reverse speeds; cool but unusual and maybe more of a gimmick than a super useful option. But, I love gimmicks! The back seat looks equally perfect.

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I’ve driven between 40,000 and 50,000 miles a year for the last decade and my highest mileage car only has about 380,000 miles on it, so for this car to have almost 100,000 miles more than that is cool. The seller says that this engine has been rebuilt twice, so every 200,000 miles or so, which I guess isn’t terrible for a small engine like this, is it? This is Mitsubishi’s 4G12, 1.4L inline-four carbureted engine with around 65 hp. With a weekend or two of detailing, this engine could look as fantastic as the interior does; although it needs an alternator and the AC needs to be charged. The body already looks great with only a couple of dings to massage out and you’ll be in business. This obviously isn’t a car that 99% of humans would aspire to own, which puts me in the upper (lower?) 1%! I’m finally a 1%’er! I would love a 12-car garage full of these unusual, “boring” cars, but I’m pretty sure that I’m the only one here who would. What do you think of this nice little Twin-Stick Champ?

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Comments

  1. Jeff Staff

    Love it. Nice find, Scotty!

  2. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    Always wanted to try driving one!

  3. Jeff Day

    Had one! Inherited it when I married my second wife and it became my daily driver. Ours was the Dodge version coupe and I loved it. Probably would still have it if it hadn’t met an untimely end by an inattentive driver in VA who pulled out in front of me and totaled it. Despite being totaled I still drove it back to PA!

  4. Larry Grinnell

    I bought a two-door Plymouth Champ (used), maybe a 1980, just after I got out of the Air Force. The Twin-Stick feature fascinated me. It was an adequate car, but nothing special in the handling or economy dept. At least the A/C always worked, though I had to keep an eye out for an occasional clogged drain hose (you could always tell because you’d hear water gurgling and moving around in the plastic evaporator enclosure under the dash). It always had a rough idle, and the steering was, er, rubbery. It was fun, maybe once or twice, to go through all eight forward gears, or to shift gears while backing up.

    After only two years, I traded the Champ for a new ’84 Honda Civic “S”, which was much more fun to drive, and put together a lot better.

  5. Bingo

    Scotty:
    Take it from a guy who knows: a 12 car garage will probably only fit 4 cars. You’ll have so many other “treasures” in there that most of the cars will be sitting outside.

    • Scotty Staff

      Ha, you’re probably right, Bingo! This Plymouth Champ is my preferred size vehicle, or even bigger than a few on my list (Subaru 360, Comuta-Car, etc.) so I can squeeze quite a few in. I think they call that hoarding even with cars, don’t they?..

  6. Mike

    My Younger Brother had the Colt version to this little thing. He brought it when he found it sitting in a lady garage where she parked it after her husband died, she could not drive a stick so it set for about 5 years in the garage and it had a full tank of gas. We flush out the tank and tuned it up and off he went with it to college. It was a cute little thing, after he graduated he sold it to me and I drove it a few years back and forth to St Louis were I was working at South County Dodge in the Body Shop. I still have it today, and after 3 kids drove it, I have installed a few clutches and rebuilt the tranny a couple of times repair I cant count the number of dings and bings, repaired the instill, and whatever every it takes. I told my oldest son that his first born can have it in 2018 when he turns 16, and Bradley Is looking forward to take day.

    Like 2
  7. Don

    Hear we go again only 466423 MILES ON IT

    Like 1
  8. Bingo

    Really? No comments on those sweet side view mirrors yet? You guys are slippin.

    • Biggles21

      It was the law in Japan for years, not sure if it still is.

  9. EB

    Learned how to drive stick on a Champ. The car was black with a gold “Racing” stripe.

    Like 1
  10. Fred W.

    Had one (a green Colt version), another one of those cars I completely forgot about ever owning until seeing this one. Loved the twin stick.

  11. Curtis J Henshaw

    I had a 1984 Plymouth Champ, and loved it. Might just have to keep my eyes on this one.

  12. Anthony

    the odometer only reads to 99,999 the black digit on the white background is for tenths of a mile

  13. Robert Gambrel

    form the looks of the interior that odo reading is 46K and could be accurate someone needs to tell them how to read those old odometers LOL

  14. Rick McKee

    This is one I don’t get the odo shows 46900 miles plus the location dshown is farther than 12 minutes to Mexico if the car can get from Houston to Mexico that fast I want it

  15. John B

    We had a few of these new back in those days…my mom and sisters drove them and they were just fine. All manual tranny. My cousin even let me drive his turbo version…the one with the sticker in the back window that said “don’t step on the gas unless you really mean it!” It was a blast and quick too!! We still have Mom’s ’87 with about 250k on it.

    Like 1
  16. Dean

    My parents had a couple of these back in the day, went okay. I drove them in my teenage years. In new zealand they were called the Mitsubishi Mirage.
    Yeah, I remember going through all 8 gears too. I think they called it the power shift.

    • Howard A Member

      HI Dean, in the truckers lingo, it’s called a “split shift”. Trucks used to have 2 sticks, and you essentially “split” the main gear in half with the other stick. This is a cool feature, but I shifted enough of those and would probably pass on this for that reason. These were good cars though, serious rusters, as usual.

  17. Mr. TKD

    A high school classmate had one of these in two-door form. I recall it being peppy and reliable. That “twin-stick” was a fascinating bit of kit for a new driver. This is yet another one I wouldn’t mind having — the price could certainly be right.

  18. Alan (Michigan)

    This one I know something about.
    Bought a new Plymouth Colt GTS in 1983.. The sales gimmick for that one was “Have a Little Fun With Your MPG”. It had the 1400 motor, and the twinstick transmission. Light, and cornered like it was on rails after I put good tires on it. My ex and I each won a SCCA autocross National Championship with the car.
    The RS version had the 1600 motor, and of course the Turbo Colt had the 1.6 with the forced induction. I drove them all, as friends had the others, but the GTS handled the best, and usually could beat even the Turbo at an autocross.
    The ability to corner made it very competitive, and the twinstick made it into a winner. Normal autocrosses would call for three gears: 1st Low, 2nd Low, then 2nd High.
    National level (and other faster venues) would call for those, plus one more: 3rd Low. Getting there meant spreading my hand wide, palm up, and moving both sticks in a single motion forward, with thumb and pinky. It was so fun to drive on the street, and an absolute blast in competition.
    Alas, the tinworm began to eat it, and made it too flexible. I kept it a bit too long. Last I heard, a friend was taking a few parts off of it, at a local scrapyard. A sad end for such a great car.

    Like 1
    • John B

      Great story Alan, I never thought of the cars being used that way! Did you see the decal that the turbo model had in the back window?

      Like 1
  19. robj Member

    I bought the Dodge Colt Turbo version new. It was quite the little rocket but with tremendous torque steer. Stand on it in “low range”, first gear and it just about turned 45 degrees from the direction you were headed. I’m still trying to figure the reasoning for the transfer case. Now with all wheel drive….

    Like 1
    • Larry Grinnell

      If I remember the prose in car magazines of the day, Mitsubishi had developed the new Colt with a beautifully-engineered 4-speed transmission. Unfortunately for Mitsubishi, the public was now demanding 5-speeds; something their Marketing folks clearly missed.

      The cheapest and quickest solution to the engineers and accountants at Mitsubishi to bring something different to market was to hang a transfer case off the transmission to give up to 8 speeds forward, two reverse, and two controls–surely this would one-up a mere 5-speed!

  20. Reid

    Would you believe I sold my 64 356SC to buy one of these? Yup, back in ’84 we needed a family car so after 12 years of Porsche bliss, it was time for new family bliss!

    Like 1
    • Scotty Staff

      Wow! You may be the winner of the top-ten-trades-of-all-time, Reid! (I didn’t want to say “worst trades”, since I love both of those cars)

      Hmm.. that’s not a bad idea for a story.. “You Traded What For What?!”

      Like 1
  21. Scotty G

    Auction update: The price reads $50,000 and the car is listed as “sold”. Hmm..

  22. patrick

    I learned to drive in a 1980 Plymouth Champ. It was my dad’s commuter. It was a great car for learning to drive. It was easy to see all around the car.

    There definitely aren’t many around anymore. I’ve been looking for a 1980 2 door for a while and haven’t found any.

  23. Leigh Ellis

    My first car in 1982 was a gold Plymouth Champ. It had the “twin shifter”? I loved that car. Got great gas mileage. Didn’t take much to total it though when someone hit me. It was a fun car.

  24. Darkcloud

    Had an 82 4 door Champ with the dual stick tranny. It was my 2nd Mitsu as I had a 1980 Plymouth Arrow Pickup. Mitsu had won me over with better pricing after 2 Subaru’s in the 1970’s. Bought my Champ thru a local dealer after telling him he would sell 2 cars that day if the deal was right. One was the Champ and the other was my brother’s Sapporo. He made the deal and Mitsu has always been on my radar since. Traded it in 1985 for a VW Golf but always liked the Champ, fun little runabout that never let me down.

    Like 1

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