Review Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4 Spyder 1996 and Now that ’90s-vintage Toyota Supras and Acura NSXs are commanding six-figure prices, the mainstream collectible car market is starting to notice and appreciate the Japanese supercars of the era. But one car that has largely flown under the radar is the Mitsubishi 3000GT.
We know what you’re thinking: the front-wheel-drive-based 3000GT, or GTO as it was called in Japan, hardly qualifies as a supercar. That may be true of the base models, but the 3000GT VR-4 was a different animal.
Packing a 300-hp twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 and all-wheel drive, the VR-4 battled its Japanese contemporaries in numerous comparison tests throughout the 1990s.
It rarely came out on top, but it could more or less hang with the cars we celebrate as modern classics today. Later models received a bump in output to 320 hp and 315 lb-ft of torque, but VR-4s have always been on the heavy side.
The car going up for auction at Barrett-Jackson Palm Beach is a rare Spyder model with the power retractable hard top. Starting in 1994, Mitsubishi contracted American coachbuilder ASC to convert a number of 3000GT coupes into convertibles. Instead of going with a soft top, Mitsubishi and ASC came up with a trick folding roof, a design feature that hadn’t been seen in the U.S. since the Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner of the late ’50s.
The conversion added not only weight, but plenty of dollars to the price, with a VR-4 Spyder commanding roughly $70,000 in 1996 dollars—that’s the equivalent of $115,000 today.
According to the seller, this particular example is one of only 84 Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4 Spyders produced for the 1996 model year. It comes with the coveted six-speed manual transmission, and has reportedly been garage-kept to preserve it in original condition. Based on the photos, we have no reason to doubt that.
With Mk IV Supra and original NSX prices continuing to climb, could the 3000GT be the next hot Japanese collector car? We’re not sure, but we’re eager to find out what this car ultimately hammers for on April 12. It will surely be higher than the $36,000 the same car commanded on Bring a Trailer last summer.