Thursday, July 2, 2009
San Francisco Street Sighting - 1979 Plymouth Sapporo
If this car looks and sounds Japanese it's because it is. It's a 1979 Plymouth Sapporo, one of Chrysler's "captive imports" that resulted from a deal with Mitsubishi. Many smaller Chryslers, Dodges and Plymouths of the late 1970s and 1980s were badge-engineered Mitsubishi products. The Sapporo and its Dodge twin, the perhaps ironically named Challenger, were based on the Mitsubishi Galant Lambda and marketed as a "personal luxury" car. The model lasted from 1976 to 1983.
The Sapporo, while not an especially successful car, was nevertheless important. It paved the way to Mitsubishi coming to the US market under its own name, and the partnership led to the creation of Diamond Star Motors, which gave the world such cars as the fabled Mitsubishi Eclipse and shorter-lived Eagle Talon and Plymouth Laser.
This Sapporo is a very nicely kept example. It bears a few minor scars from a life lived in San Francisco but has no excessive damage. The paint is shiny and all trim is in place and in good condition. I've seen it driving around, too, so it evidently runs fairly well. I have to wonder about the interior electronics, though, as these being luxury cars they are bound to be chock full of power features. And as the owner of a 1980s "technological showcase" halo car myself, I know what can happen to an abundance of electronic goodies when they get old and worn out. Still, I'm happy to see this rare car continuing to earn its keep in the hands of a careful owner.