Mitsubishi FTO

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Mitsubishi FTO
1994 fto gpx mivec.jpg
Manufacturer Mitsubishi Motors
Production 1994–2000
Assembly Mizushima plant, Kurashiki, Okayama, Japan
Body and chassis

Sports car

Sport compact
Body style 2-door coupé
Layout Front engine, front-wheel drive
Engine 4G93 1.8 L SOHC 16v I4
6A12 2.0 L DOHC 24v V6
6A12 2.0 L DOHC 24v MIVEC V6
Transmission 5-speed manual
4-speed semi-auto (1994–97)
5-speed semi-auto (1997–2000)
Wheelbase 2,500 mm (98.4 in)
Length 4,365 mm (171.9 in)
Width 1,735 mm (68.3 in)
Height 1,300 mm (51.2 in)
Curb weight 1,100–1,210 kg (2,425–2,668 lb)

The Mitsubishi FTO, is a front engined, front-wheel drive coupe produced by Mitsubishi Motors between 1994 and 2000. It was originally planned to be exclusively for the Japanese domestic market, although its popularity as a grey market import to the United Kingdom, Ireland, and New Zealand led to eventual limited distribution through Mitsubishi's official dealers in those countries.[1] Upon its debut it won the Car of the Year Japan award for 1994–95.[2] In Japan, it was sold at a specific retail chain called Car Plaza.

FTO stands for "Fresh Touring Origination".[3] The name recalls the Galant FTO coupé of 1971, one of the company's first sports cars.[4]

Backstory: The Galant FTO (January 1971-1975)[edit]

Mitsubishi FTO.JPG

Prior to the arrival of the 1994 front-wheel drive FTO, which inherited the 'FTO' tag, was the Mitsubishi Galant Coupé FTO. A rear-wheel drive coupe produced by Japanese automaker Mitsubishi Motors from November 1971 to March 1975.[1] "FTO" was meant to stand for Fresco Turismo Omologato, in a fine example of Japanese Italian (Or 'Fresh Touring Origination' in English). This compact Coupé FTO can effectively be seen as a replacement for the earlier Mitsubishi Colt 11-F Super Sports.

The Galant FTO was first introduced with a 86 or 95 PS (63 or 70 kW) 1,378 cc 4G41 "Neptune" engine,[3] until it was replaced via a redesign in February 1973 by a brace of 1,597 cc 4G32 "Saturn" power plants - offering either 100 PS (74 kW), or 110 PS (81 kW), depending on the state of tune. There was also a 1,439 cc Saturn engine, offering 92 PS (68 kW). In October 1973 there was a minor facelift and the lineup was restricted to four versions, with the EL, the GS and the four-speed SL versions cancelled.[4] Production gradually came to an end in August 1975, after the introduction in March that year of the more staid Lancer Celeste.[2]

The New FTO Models[edit]

In 1994 a whole new FTO coupé concept was created. The only body style was a 2-door coupé, and all FTOs were front wheel drive. Either a straight-4 or a transversely mounted V6 engine was available, mated to either a 5-speed manual or INVECS-II semi-automatic transmission. Earlier (pre-facelift) auto models had a four-speed version, whilst the facelift [1997-2000] auto versions had a five-speed. The most recognizable exterior styling change during 1997 was, in simple terms, to the front bumper - which went from two air intakes to a single deeper intake and lighting arrangement. Hence the term 'Facelift'. On preface models there exists a minor difference in the lower intake - on some earlier models there are two 'blanking plates' on either side, thus reducing the size of the aperture.

By 2000, in the MMC Company Report, the now phazed-out FTO was simply described as "Small brother of the GTO, this sports coupe gives full expression to MMC’s fun-to-drive philosophy with well-balanced proportions wrapped in dynamic and aggressive styling and INVECS-II with Sport Mode automatic + manual over ride transmission". Regarding the 'FTO' acronym, the 'Series Name Derivations' section of the Report describes the model as "FTO - Fresh Touring Origination: a touring model overflowing with freshness, youthfulness and originality".

October 1994–August 1997 (Pre-Facelift)[edit]

Model name Engine Peak power
GS 1800 cc SOHC 16 valve straight-4 125 PS (92 kW; 123 hp) at 6,000 rpm
GR Limited Edition (1995)
GR Sports Package
2000 cc DOHC 24 valve V6 180 PS (132 kW; 178 hp) at 7,000 rpm
GPX Limited Edition [COTY] (1995)
Nakaya-Tune Edition [GPX Base] (1997)
GP (1996–97)
2000 cc DOHC MIVEC 24 valve V6 200 PS (147 kW; 197 hp) at 6,000 rpm

(The GS model has 15" dia wheels, whilst the remaining models have 16" dia wheels).

The FTO GPX Limited Edition (Also referred to, via 'Car Of The Year' acronym, as the FTO 'COTY')

GPX Limited Edition. In commemoration of its win at the Car of the Year Japan awards in 1994, Mitsubishi produced a Limited Edition of their GPX model. This model was finished in a unique dandelion yellow paint scheme with "'94–95 Japan Car of the Year" emblems on the car's c-pillar. It was also installed with a rear screen wash/wiper and limited slip differential as standard. 207 GPX Limited Edition models were produced during April 1995, 20 manuals and 187 autos.[5][6]

The Nakaya-Tune FTO was a limited edition pre-facelift model and was introduced in early 1997. The car was tuned by Akihiko Nakaya, driver of an FTO in the All-Japan Grand Touring Car Championship in 1998–1999. The main differences over the standard model are a sports silencer, upgraded brake pads, carbon fibre lip spoiler, and upgraded suspension with Öhlins shock absorbers.[5]

Although the FTO Nakaya-Tune brochure displays (in the little arrow device on the front cover) the words "限定300台" - which broadly translates as "Limited to 300 units" - it doesn't specifically mention 'Limited Edition' and only suggests the build would be 'limited to 300 units'. This suggests the orders/demand for them may not have reached that figure. The CAPS (Mitsi database) reveals 60 Scotia White and 62 Icecelle Blue NT models,[7] totaling 122[8] and doubt exists among seasoned FTO Club members that the NT build spec was consistent across the purported '300' NT models (implied by said brochure). If that figure is indeed accurate, then there are far fewer of them still in existence compared to those still around from the mere 207 Limited Edition COTY models built.

August 1997–July 2001 (Facelift Models)[edit]

GPX facelift model in Icecelle Blue, with option 'aero' rear spoiler.
GP Version R interior with distinctive blue seats. This interior also shows the 3-spoke MoMo airbag wheel & manual climate control.

Cars built after August 1997 are regarded as facelift models, which refers to the only major exterior styling change of the front bumper - which gained a larger air intake, deeper front splitter and restyled housings for the supplementary lights. The headlamps were also changed to incorporate the vehicles side lights.[9] The rear spoiler also underwent a redesign to an 'aero' wing which phased in during 1997.

The facelift also brought the GP Version R (aka the GPvR). This model was produced in Scotia White, Passion Red or Pyrenees Black only. It featured HID headlamps; Black rear seats, with color-coded 'FTO' monogrammed front seats - Blue/with 'Scotia White' body color, Black/with 'Passion Red' body color or Red/with 'Pyrenees Black' body color; uprated suspension - 20mm front anti roll bar [instead of 17mm] and 20mm rear anti roll bar [instead of 18mm]; limited slip differential and a redesigned rear 'Aero' spoiler. A "Version R" decal also features on the 2 spoiler side wings and on the nearside front lip. As this model was light weight, items such as side skirts, front fog lights, climate control, electric folding mirrors and sound insulation were left out. The Version R 'Aero' model features an "Aero" decal on the right rear of the boot lid.

The GX model has a 3mm wider bore in the throttle body (increase to 63mm), helping to provide the additional 10 hp over the GR model.

Model name Engine Peak power
GS 1800 cc SOHC 16 valve straight-4 125 PS (92 kW; 123 hp) at 6,000 rpm
GR 2000 cc DOHC 24 valve V6 170 PS (125 kW; 168 hp) at 7,000 rpm
GX Sports Package
GX Sports Package Aero Series
2000 cc DOHC 24 valve V6 180 PS (132 kW; 178 hp) at 7,000 rpm
GP Version R (aka GPvR)
GP Version R Aero Series
2000 cc DOHC MIVEC 24 valve V6 200 PS (147 kW; 197 hp) at 7,500 rpm

An experimental electric version of the FTO was produced (called the FTOEV), utilizing high-performance lithium-ion batteries, and set a record when it covered 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) in 24 hours in December 1999.[10][11]

Pre-facelift vs Facelift. In respect of FTO ownership, there is some division in preference for the styling of the front bumper - either Pre-facelift, or Facelift. Interchanging these units is a relatively simple matter and, as the latter version models have become write-offs over the years, there are many pre-facelift models now on the road that are sporting newer facelift bumpers. Future purchasers of an FTO should be aware of this. A simple check of the VIN Plate details, or the period of manufacture to be found on the seat-belt tags, should resolve any uncertainty as to the origin of the model-build. Apart from body styling, there are other less apparent differences in the Facelift models, such as uprated ECU, ABS-related wheel bearings, etc.


The FTO won the Car of the Year Japan award for 1994–95 upon its debut, awarded in December 1994.[2] It was also voted Best Used Sports Car at the British Auto Trader Awards in November 2007.[12]

A Team Taeivon Ralliart FTO, driven by Takahiko Hara and Akihiko Nakaya, also appeared in the top 5 of the GT300 Class in the 1998 JGTC season


Just prior to its demise, the FTO became an official import to UK, available from Mitsubishi dealerships. A review of the FTO facelift model in this period was also given on TV's "Top Gear" by Vicki Butler-Henderson.[13]

Japanese promotional footage of the preface FTO was also released in 1995[14] This has some helpful graphics of the FTO features found on the GR Sports (a Steel Silver model) and a GPX (a Passion Red model).


During the relatively short production period of the FTO there was an OE catalogue of a host of Options made available. Among these, and the most popular to be fitted as body-styling, were:

  • Rear 'FTO' logo decals (Black: Part No MZ553112; White: Part No MZ553113).
  • Side logo decals ('FTO Mivec' [GP & GPX]: Part No MZ553111; 'FTO' [GX] Part No MZ5531110).
  • Rear reflector panel with FTO logo (Part No MZ570176).
  • Chromed number plate surround.
  • Mudflaps.
  • Side skirts (Pair, which fitted over integral skirt molding & included end-caps; Part No MZ569277).
  • Four-piece 'Aero' spoiler (As found on GPvR, Part No MZ570521).
  • Stainless steel kick-plates with electro-luminescent FTO logo (Part No MZ526753).
  • Footwell lighting (Part No MZ590637).
  • Passenger air bag (in dashboard above glove box).
  • Carbon-effect dial surround (Part No MZ526817).
  • Carbon-effect gear knob (Manual, Part No MZ525524; Auto, Part No MZ525525)
  • Alloy pedal covers, with 'FTO' monogrammed footrest. (Manual, Part No MZ525007; Auto Part No MZ525008).
  • PIAA alloy wheels. (15" Part No MZ556310; 16" Part No MZ556311).

(Standard alloy wheels: GS & GR 15" Part No MZ556312; All other models 16" Part No MZ556313)

The strut brace/s, as found standard on the rear of the GPvR, for example, were also available via the Mitsubishi association with the Ralliart franchise.

The latter company also carried out modifications to many FTOs during the period in which they were imported to the UK via that company, based in Dudley. These included installation of an aftermarket rear fog-light & illuminated dash switch to meet UK legislation (Not OEM, or a requirement in Japan). The Company may also have fitted an 'English' text version of fuse box cover in the engine bay, and/or a RalliArt oil cap.

Anti-lock braking system (ABS) and Traction control system (TCS) can also be found as factory-fitted options on some earlier models such as the sports GX model. (An easy-visual check for fitment of ABS to an FTO is to look in the engine bay - an alloy block, with 6 brake pipes emerging, will be present behind the battery and down against the bulkhead).

Bodywork Colors[edit]

The FTO models were available in the following 12 colors,[15][16] identified by the OE paint code provided within the data of the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN Plate) affixed to the engine bay bulkhead;

Period 1994-2000:

  • Passion Red - Code R71/Part No MZ101933 (A bright 'flame' red)
  • Pyrenees Black - Code X08/Part No MZ101902 (Black, with a subtle reflective fleck)
  • Moonlight Blue - Code T88C/Part No MZ101942 (Very dark 'Navy' blue)
  • Scotia White - Code W83/Part No MZ101901 (Pure white)

Period 1994-1997:

  • Imperial Red - Code R39C/Part No MZ101956 (A light 'burgundy' red)
  • Monaco Red - Code R82/Part No MZ101814 (A dark 'burgundy' red)
  • Steel Silver - Code A34/Part No MZ101955 (A metallic grey)
  • Timber Green - Code G13/Part No MZ102001 (A dark 'forest' green, as the name suggests)

Period 1995:

  • Dandelion Yellow - Code Y77C/Part No MZ101879 (Warm creamy yellow, unique to the GPX LE)

Period 1997-2000:

  • Symphonic Silver - Code A26A/Part No MZ101952 (A light metallic warm grey)
  • Icecelle Blue - Code T73/Part No MZ101977 (An 'electric' metallic 'cobalt' blue)
  • Kielder Green - Code G84/Part No MZ101908 (A 'turquoise' green)

For some of these colors their popularity was limited. Now, many years since production ceased in early 2000, certain colored models are now hard to find - such as those in green, for example.

Annual production[edit]

Total FTO model production by year is as follows:

Year Production
1994 20,074
1995 9,741
1996 2,928
1997 1,960
1998 1,033
1999 616
2000 160
Total 36,512

It should be noted that these are Production dates. Whilst some models may have been produced on the production line to Customer pre-order specifications, the majority would not instantly be purchased, registered and 'on the road'. For example, an FTO first registered in Japan in 2001 will therefore be at least a year old (from the last Production Year of 2000). If that used vehicle is then exported and sold in the UK in say 2003, then the DVLA 'first registered' date is very likely to be 2003.

Chassis Numbering[edit]

Whilst the month/year date on seat belt tags can assist in clarifying a production date when purchasing a used FTO, the first 3 digits of the Chassis number on the FTO VIN plate (located on the engine bay baulk-head [i.e. E-DE3A XXXXXXX where 'X' = a chassis number]) will certainly provide the actual Manufacturing Year:
000 = 1994/1995; 010 = 1996; 020 = 1997; 030 = 1998 etc.

FUN FACT: If you line up all the FTO's ever produced bumper to bumper you would only cover 99 miles 162 feet and 3.2 inches (160.934 kilometres).

(Sources: Fact & Figures 2000, Fact & Figures 2005, Mitsubishi Motors website)


  1. ^ Review, Tom Barnard, Auto Express, 1999
  2. ^ a b History: 1994 (Japanese), JCOTY website
  3. ^ Fact & Figures 2000, Mitsubishi Motors website
  4. ^ "General FTO Information - History", Steve Hemming,
  5. ^ a b "General FTO Information - Limited Editions", Steve Hemming,
  6. ^ Production Figures,
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Facelift Front Bumper", Steve Hemming,
  10. ^ "MMC to display futuristic products at Exhibition of Dream Technologies for the 21st Century", Mitsubishi Motors press release, July 12, 2000
  11. ^ "Mitsubishi EV Sets New World Record; Covers 2000km in 24 hours", Mitsubishi Motors news release, December 20, 1999
  12. ^ "Autotrader Awards",
  13. ^ "FTO 'Top Gear' review",
  14. ^ "FTO 'Promotional Video' footage",
  15. ^ "Complete FTO", Complete
  16. ^ "Camskill",