These days nobody remembers the Renault 17 and nobody at all remembers the car it inspired, the 1976 Mitsubishi Lancer Celeste.
The Mitsubishi enjoyed a long enough career under a variety of names and even earned lots of lovely lush laurels in rallying. The Celeste, as I shall refer to it, had a hatchback and rear-wheel drive. The Renault’s power went to the front, in contrast. Let’s not mix these cars up. As to dimensions, small and light sums it up: 4.1 m long, 1.6 m wide and graced by a wheelbase of 2.3 metres. The following names could be seen on the car’s bootlid in the course of its career. If you can remember this you will impress us: the Mitsubishi Celeste, Chrysler Lancer Hatchback (my favourite), Dodge Lancer Celeste, Plymouth Arrow and Dodge Arrow. Perhaps the nicest of the cars was the GT System 80 which looked like this:
You have to wonder about a firm whose cars have been rebadged so widely, and also about the brands who felt they could slip one of these charmers into their fleet without anyone noticing the cuckoo in the nest. Mitsubishi has had some moments of greatness, yes (we come to that later this month). Alas they have also ploughed a peculiar and zig-zagged furrow which has thrown up a few too many turnips and not enough Golden Wonders.