In the early 1980’s Japanese GTs and Sports Cars were experiencing a growth in popularity, Nissan had their Z range, Mazda their RX7 and Toyota their Supra, the most notable exception was Mitsubishi, but this all changed in 1982 with the launch of the turbocharged Starion.

Available from 1982 until the end of 1989 it benefitted from constant evolutionary improvements which ensured that the Starion proved to be a very successful circuit racing car.  It successes came most notably in endurance racing in the USA, capturing the prestigious "Longest Day of Nelson Ledges" 24 hour endurance race four years running from 1984 to 1987.  Team Mitsubishi Starions also won the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) US Endurance Championships in three of those four years.

Whilst the circuit racing pedigree of the Starion was assured its rallying capabilities were unknown.  Therefore when Pentti Airikkala entered the 1988 Open Rally Championship debuting the Starion on Cartel International Rally, it was greeted with surprise.  Then when he finished the event not only first but by a margin of eight minutes shockwaves were felt through the rallying establishment and it made headline news in all the motoring press.  Pentti followed this up with another convincing win on the Welsh International, going on to take top 5 places in all but one of the remaining championship rounds.  As a result Pentti finished the championship second by 3 points to Jimmy McRae in the Ford Sierra Cosworth.

This Car

Is the one that was built by Mitsubishi Ralliart Europe, run by Safety Devices Motorsport Engineering and used by Pentti to secure second place in the 1988 Open Rally Championship.  Once it was retired and sold into private hands it was initially used for occasional club rallies, before being bought by a collector who used it for shows and demonstrations. 

In recent years it has had 4 outings, at the Rally and Supercar day at Castle Combe, culminating in Pentti Airikkala doing some demonstration laps.  At a track day in November 2002 the car was reunited again with Pentti who took the opportunity to autograph the roof after proving its reliability. Its final outing in the hands of Pentti was at the Motor Sport News 50th birthday celebrations which were shown on Motors TV.


Engine:          Ralliart HKS designed 2Ltr

Cylinders:      4

Aspiration:     Turbocharged
Valves:         8

Camshafts:   SOHC

Carburetion:  Fuel Injected (Single Point)