Monday, October 21, 2013

Berkeley Street Sighting - 1982 Plymouth Sapporo

It's been a few years since we last looked at a Plymouth Sapporo, a butterscotch 1979 model in San Francisco. These coupes are getting to be very rare, so it's pretty special to me when I find one that runs. This '82 Sapporo, found by chance on a quiet street in Berkeley, is a later example. The Sapporo and its Dodge Challenger twin were rebadged versions of the Mitsubishi Galant Lambda coupe, and sold in the U.S. from 1978 to 1983. They were something of a midsize sport/luxury coupe and were decently equipped and sporty for their own time. Propulsion came from a 2.6 liter Mitsubishi four designed to operate on lean-burn settings until real power was needed. Transmissions were a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic.

I can't say that I think the 1982 model year was a styling improvement for the Sapporo. The body was still much the same as the '78 car for the most part, with most of the chrome now eliminated in favor of black or body-color plastic. It makes the car appear much more Japanese and, while cleaner in appearance, it looks rather bland. The horizontal bar grille seen on the earlier Sapporos, which resembles a DeLorean DMC-12, was replaced with a plastic eggcrate affair. Bumpers lost their over-riders and the side mirrors were now aerodynamic units mounted at the windows instead of free-standing on the doors. The rear is also more squared-off, with a taller trunk, bigger one-piece taillights and the license plate moved up from the bumper.

This car is in rougher condition than the '79 featured previously, and it keeps me guessing what color it was from the factory. The beige color is a repaint, as it's peeling off of the fender badges and partly visible on the door weatherstripping, but the blue color peeking through on the rear bumper isn't seen anywhere else. The original factory quality inspection and California-spec emissions compliance stickers are a nice touch.

Is it worth fixing or restoring? It's hard to say. It suffers the same problem as many oddball cars of the '80s, and being an orphan brand doesn't help for parts availability. The mechanicals can probably be serviced because the Mitsu 2.6 was a very common engine put in a lot of cars throughout the decade, though from what I've read about them, it's a pain to work on. A lot of things are difficult to get to and it likes to warp or crack cylinder heads. There were a few limited editions of the Challenger and Sapporo that looked kind of cool, but most were likely plain base models like this. I know that a few people care enough about these cars to save them from scrap, and that's good. Because once they're gone, they're gone.

No comments:

Post a Comment