American built, with a Japanese heart and a story that begins in Europe

I wont go heavy into the story that is DSM, I am sure most here know it, and I wont bore with pedantic knowledge. But, did you know that this American designed and built Japanese car was a super popular import to Europe as well?

(shown here with a photo of the ‘good’ side that made me fall in love with it. Despite the 2G wheels. Can you spot all the Euro market changes?)
573948990 by Brad DeSantis, on Flickr

Most of the Euro market cars were sold in Germany. Top spec cars got the much loved twin cam 2.0 4G63 but no turbo or AWD, making them a great mountain pass corner carver but not earning the reputation there of being a high horsepower track monster. The following there is very different than we have here.

Somehow, this car was imported to the states in 1997 by the original owner. A serviceman in the US armed forces. I have not quite figured out how or why, but that’s the story I was told. I have known about the car for a few years and had first rights of refusal if the previous owner, a good friend of mine ever decided he was going to sell it. He rescued it from a less than ideal owner who did a bit of damage with careless wheel choice (chewing up the front fenders), obviously smoked lots of marijuana in the car (based on the smell when I got it )and ultimately wound up misjudging a rock and doing significant damage to the drivers side door, rocker and quarter panel. Once my friend had it, he never got around to fixing it and when money and space was needed to complete some other Mitsubishi projects, he gave me a call. Needless to say I jumped at the chance.

Biggest problem now was that the car, was in Alabama and I live in Phoenix. July of 2019 I had a trip planned back to my home state of Massachusetts and decided, you know what, I will fly to Alabama and drive the car back to Mass, then there I will fix the bodywork and have it ready to go to the Radwood Boston car show in October. I will fly back then, enter the show and then road trip it back out here to Arizona! (I never said I wasn’t little crazy!) Well here is that story from the start and to where we are now.


My first look in person!
Not bad, she looks good from this side.
2020-04-16_12-27-03 by Brad DeSantis, on Flickr

I spent a little time going over the car. Other than the giant smash on the drivers side, its a pretty nice piece. No rust, no tears on the fabric save for the sunvisors, but that’s an easy fix. The carpet is in great shape, no stains or wear. It certainly belies its 219k kilometers. (135k miles).

In preparation to drive it 700 miles one day after buying it, I asked the seller ahead of time if he would go through the car and let me know what it needs in order to make that drive successfully. With an unknown age timing belt, worn brakes and a bad ball joint those were deemed essential. The seller Nate being the good friend and all around good guy that he is (not to mention a great wrench!) said he would fix those things for the cost of the parts before i got there. A true man of his word, he did. While doing the work he noticed a torn boot on the axle, but I figured I had him doing enough for me and decided that could wait. I spent the night looking at Nate’s collection of Mitsubishis and period correct goodies for his collection of 70’s Colts. He probably has one of the best collections of dealer brochures, accessory and parts manuals from the era in existence, super cool stuff.

Headed off the next morning with confidence in the new parts and the car pointed north.
Before I had made the trip, I put a call out on the internet, looking for the rocker moldings and door molding for the drivers side. As luck would have it, the guy who responded lived in Virginia. I managed to arrange a meet with him at my halfway point to Boston. Sometimes, timing is everything!
First photos of the ‘bad’ side here. Somewhere on the way home, maybe Delaware? You cant see the dent or missing moldings very well from this angle, but you can see the horribly matched red door. Don’t worry, carnage close ups to follow.
2020-04-16_12-27-53 by Brad DeSantis, on Flickr

Back in the car, headed north. Next stop, Salem Massachusetts. Hopeful at this point that the clunk in the rear, isn’t going to derail the trip!

Pop ups are the worlds coolest headlights. No discussion.
IMG_20191014_174750 by Brad DeSantis, on Flickr

We’ll pick up the next segment with carnage and repairs, that clunk in the rear and body work.


I actually really like 2g 5 spokes.

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I love this story. I wonder where it was in Germany and when it came Stateside. I know I saw—and photographed—a couple red 1Gs while I was in Germany in 2002, 2010, and 2012. Not that there weren’t more than one red 1G DSM over there, but still. Would be crazy to think I might have taken a picture of this car in a Heidelberg parking garage or suburb. :stuck_out_tongue:

Also, I loved the time I spent with a 1GNT. We picked up a 93 ESi automatic for $500, some assembly required back in the day. Lady took it in after the timing belt snapped, told them to keep it when she got the price, and the shop owner had it all ready for reassembly when he fell out of his brodozer, broke his knee, and decided he no longer gave a shit.

Popups are winning, but don’t forget the POWER BULGE.

Carnage time
IMG_20190717_151705 by Brad DeSantis, on Flickr

2020-04-16_12-29-45 by Brad DeSantis, on Flickr

Told you it was ugly! So bodywork time. Am I a body guy? Amateur at best. I have however spent most of my adult life as an automotive appraiser and before that grew up in my dads bodyshop, so, I do have an idea or two on how to fix sheet metal. A skill I plan on improving as time goes on. However, that was not in the budget for time on this project as I was working on the car in two three day spurts when I was back in Massachusetts. So, I put the desire to do that right away aside and concentrated on two areas of importance when planning on driving across country. Going and stopping. Axles and brakes.

First things first, that nasty click when you accelerate while turning. Must be axles, and of course, it was. Not a lot of photos here, you see one axle swap you’ve seen them all. Shouts to @racedinanger for the assist on this.
2020-04-16_12-30-33 by Brad DeSantis, on Flickr

Then its time to address the clunk in the rear. First thing we notice. One caliper is loose. That must be it, right? Right?
Tighten up, test drive, NOPE! Doing a little diag, we decided that maybe the pins were worn? Dug some old calipers up from the back yard that happened to have good pins despite being rusty junk otherwise.
2020-04-20_05-06-29 by Brad DeSantis, on Flickr


Turns out, when whoever did the back brakes last, (not my friend I bought it from!) they installed the shims wrong. The whole time, the pads were slapping in the calipers. See the red and blue circles on the pic, it should be one of the red style and one of the blue style on each side.

2020-04-16_12-37-57 by Brad DeSantis, on Flickr

Once that was fixed, no more clunk. Finally!


One of those are you kidding me moments.

I’ve done so many CVs, I forgot I did these. However I feel like I learned a new trick when my Dad: watching us struggle a bit with one stuck in the hub. Took the plastic covered dead blow to the end of the axle shaft and then hit that with a 5lb mini sledge so as not to mushroom the end of the axle.


We left off here a couple months ago now. Quarantine has had me not doing much car stuff, apparently that includes posting!

SO, now that the car is sorted mechanically. Its time to get onto that body work.

A previosly discussed, the dent on the rocker was the worst part.
2020-04-16_12-36-02 by Brad DeSantis, on Flickr

So with a little help from a former co-worker (a profesional body man!), we got that pulled, straigtened and primed.

2020-04-16_12-34-07 by Brad DeSantis, on Flickr

2020-04-16_12-34-36 by Brad DeSantis, on Flickr

Then, I bought some paint in an aerosol can along with a can of clear and decided to do a driveway paint job. Figured that would be good enough for now until I respray the whole car.

IMG_20190725_142806 by Brad DeSantis, on Flickr

IMG_20190726_143841 by Brad DeSantis, on Flickr

Came out damn good if I do say so my self. But now the paint on the top part of the door was a real eyesore. Decided to go back the paint supplier and pick up another can to touch that up next.

2020-04-16_12-40-13 by Brad DeSantis, on Flickr

IMG_20190822_131843 by Brad DeSantis, on Flickr

This can was clearly mixed wrong. Its a VERY orange color in comparison. Unfortunetly now I was out of time and it was time to head back to Arizona, so the fix would have to wait.

I’ve seen the orange door picture before—I think—but this is the first time it’s been so glaring. Wow.

Also, I am really liking the looks of a two-tone 1G. Primer gray around the entire bottom under that trim would look incredibly hot.

For laps around the trailer park? LOL I have to respectfully disagree on that.

I forgot how smooshed this thing was. It was satisfying to see this project get finished.


Yeah, I am going to go ahead and agree with Andrew. I do not like the idea of the two tone.


I meant a professional, two-tone paint job with that shade of gray below the red. Not leaving it primered. Jeez. What kind of white trash do you think I am? (Hint: The Best Kind!)


Ok, been absent here a bit, gotta fix that. Next step on the car came in Octiber of 2019. Radwood was having its first show in Boston. Being a Massachusetts native and the car still being in Mass, you know I could not miss that. So a plane ticket was booked and I would hopefully have enough time to finish the paint and get the car reassembled for the show.

Step one, remove the terrible orange paint with a DA
2020-04-16_12-40-13 by Brad DeSantis, on Flickr

Notice the water in the photo? Anyone who has spent any time in New England knows that its the rain capital of the US. Seattle might get all the credit, but the greater Boston area has more rainy days and more inches of rain every year. We just don’t complain about it. It was however putting a huge damper on my plans to have the car done in time for the show two days in the future. Moved the car to the indoor storage garage about an hour away to prep for paint in a certainly not ideal environment.

Dark, dank and damp. The perfect place to paint a car!
2020-04-16_12-43-52 by Brad DeSantis, on Flickr

Honestly though , some how…it came out ok. The color is not perfect, but its certainly better than the orange that happened before!
2020-04-16_12-44-34 by Brad DeSantis, on Flickr

This left one day after letting it dry to re assemble the car for the show the next day. Of course it was raining, so a big thanks to @racedinanger 's dad for letting me use his well lit garage for reassembly.

Door moldings, rocker molding and center door moldings installed.
2020-04-16_12-45-17 by Brad DeSantis, on Flickr

2020-04-16_12-45-38 by Brad DeSantis, on Flickr

Did I make it to the show? Yup. Did it rain that day too? Of course. But a successful story and a well deserved reward for time well spent. This photo unfortunately I do not know who took, but I forgot to take any!!!

2020-04-16_12-47-06 by Brad DeSantis, on Flickr

At this point, I needed to do a few things to finish the car off, straighten the lower front cover, get some center caps and some more cleaning and detailing, but overall, it was done and ready for a drive across the US!


A couple of beauty shots now that it successfully is finished and in Arizona here with me, a few from the trip and few from around AZ.

Eclipse to Sholow-1 by Brad DeSantis, on Flickr

Eclipse to Sholow-1-5 by Brad DeSantis, on Flickr

In front of the largest route 66 sign along the road, located in Oaklahoma
IMG_20191016_170839 by Brad DeSantis, on Flickr

Eclipse to Sholow-1-6 by Brad DeSantis, on Flickr


Love the car.
Love the story.

So cool buddy, so cool.


A long time ago, in a college classroom not so far away, the guy sitting next to me noticed my Eagle/DSM hat and told me he knew where there was a really nice one available really cheap. I wasn’t looking for another DSM, but I wanted to relate to my classmate so I expressed interest.

Turned out he worked for a small auto shop. A lady brought a white, 93 ES automatic in with a snapped timing belt. When she learned it would cost more than $1,000 to get it fixed, she signed over the title and walked. The shop owner, thinking it was a sharp little car, pulled the head and ordered all new OEM parts for the rebuild.

He got the head back from the machine shop, then fell out of his lifted bro-dozer, breaking his ankle and shoulder. Since he wouldn’t be working on the car for several months and needed it gone, I bought the car ready for reassembly with OEM bits for $600.

Drove that car everywhere, including Kansas City and back, then gave it to my dad. He daily drove it for a couple years before letting my brother trade it in on the one of many cars he drove into the ground or otherwise wrecked.


So yeah, I love this car and this story too. In fact, there might even be MORE meaning in a clean 1GNT than any other DSM. It’s all about the love of the platform.

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Considering you sprayed and blended this car out of cans, I think it came out pretty awesome. I REALLY didn’t expect it to look that nice.


I was a little concerned about the color match, its not perfect, but I’ll take it.

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Small updates, I fixed that annoying bend in the lower front cover and, CENTERCAPS!!!

2020-10-13_06-56-03 by Brad DeSantis, on Flickr

2020-10-13_06-54-40 by Brad DeSantis, on Flickr

2020-10-13_07-05-36 by Brad DeSantis, on Flickr

That completes the look nicely. So much better.


I love this car so much. Remember when we used to see them all the time? Nowadays, for every DSM (period, 1G, 2G, turbo or not), I see at least 50 Outlander Sports, 30 Mirages, and 20 Outlanders/PHEVs.

Were it not such a heavy platform to begin with, I like the idea of one day converting one to electric, but I’ve also learned my lesson when it comes to building project vehicles from the unibody up—I don’t even try.