The Colt was a captive import, produced by Mitsubishi Motors between 1971 and 1994. The first few generations were rebadged versions of the rear-wheel drive Galant and Lancer, but from 1979 onwards the Colt became a front-wheel drive version of the Mirage. The seventh generation Colt was replaced in 1994 by the Dodge Neon.
The Dodge Colt is often remembered as a reliable and economical option for American consumers during the oil crisis and the subsequent shift toward smaller, more efficient vehicles. It also signifies the early stages of collaboration between American and Japanese automakers, a trend that would become more prominent in subsequent decades.
Dodge Colt Overview
The Dodge Colt was a series of subcompact cars introduced to the North American market by the Chrysler Corporation in the early 1970s. Notably, the Colt was not originally designed or manufactured by Chrysler but was a badge-engineered version of Mitsubishi models.
In the early 1970s, Chrysler partnered with Mitsubishi Motors of Japan to import and sell Mitsubishi’s compact and subcompact cars in North America. This move was in response to the growing demand for smaller, fuel-efficient cars. The first model introduced under the Colt nameplate was a rebadged version of the Mitsubishi Galant. Over the years, various Mitsubishi models were sold under the Dodge Colt name in North America. These included versions of the Mitsubishi Galant, Mirage, and Lancer. As a versatile offering, the Dodge Colt came in multiple body styles over its lifespan, including coupes, sedans, hatchbacks, and station wagons.
By the 1980s, the Colt had mainly become a rebadged version of the Mitsubishi Mirage. Different versions were sold, including the Colt Vista (a compact MPV) and the sportier Colt Turbo. The Colt wasn’t exclusive to the Dodge brand. Over the years, it was also sold under the Plymouth banner and, in Canada, as the Eagle Summit after the introduction of the Eagle brand by Chrysler.
In essence, the Colt represents a period in North American automotive history when badge engineering (rebranding the same car under different names and brands) was a common practice, particularly for domestic automakers collaborating with Japanese partners. The Colt name was phased out in the early 1990s in the U.S., with Chrysler opting for other strategies and models in the compact segment. Mitsubishi continued selling the Mirage under its original name.