Rare Rides: The 1988 Chrysler Conquest – an American Sports Coupe
Quick badge swaps between Chrysler and Mitsubishi were common throughout the Eighties. Mostly a one-way affair, Chrysler rebranded Mitsubishi products as Colts, Plymouths, and Dodges. These captive imports generated revenue via Chrysler’s brand recognition while cheaply filling gaps in the domestic company’s lineup.
Today marks our first Chrysler-branded Mitsubishi, and it’s certainly the sportiest rebadge we’ve seen here. Presenting the Chrysler Conquest, from 1988.
Chrysler existed without a sports car in its portfolio for the early part of the Eighties, but did sell the Mitsubishi Galant Lambda as the Dodge Challenger and Plymouth Sapporo. Those offerings ended in 1983, and in 1984 Chrysler received its own sporty car in the front-drive Chrysler Laser. That same year, Dodge received its own Laser version, as well as Mitsubishi’s Starion (as Conquest), which Mitsubishi sold on North American shores since 1983. Chrysler had to make do with the Laser as its sole sports offering until 1987, when the Conquest moved mildly upmarket for its duties at ChryCo’s finest showrooms.
Fitting its sporty mission, all examples of the Starion and Conquest were turbocharged, making use of inline-four Mitsubishi engines. Displacement options were of 2.0 or 2.6 liters, and power was transferred to the rear through a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual. Starion was based on a revised version of the Galant Lambda platform, serving as its direct successor.
There were two different body styles of Conquest, due to Japanese regulations on size. Early models were all the “narrow body,” with a 66.3-inch width. That width (and the 2.0-liter engine) qualified for a lower tax bracket. As the Starion had branched out to the American market, half way through 1985 Mitsubishi made a concession and debuted a wide-body version. Overall width grew to 68.7 inches.
But the product differentiation didn’t stop with a width adjustment. Narrow versions were now considered the entry model, and went without an intercooler on the turbo. Wide body versions had an intercooler, and most often used the larger 2.6-liter engine. Denoting the upmarket models were ESI-r badges for the Starion, and TSi markings on the Conquest. Upon the introduction of the TSi in North America, the narrow body cars were called Technica. In select markets which didn’t receive any wide-body cars, there was a concession: a more powerful ESI-r trim in narrow body format. Power figures ranged from 150 to 197 horses depending on region, turbocharger, intercooler option, and number of heads (eight or 12).
Mitsubishi continued to fiddle with things like wheel lug count and axles for the remainder of the Conquest’s run. Things got narrower for the wide body in 1988, with a decrease to 68.3 inches. That same year the car was lowered by nearly two inches, thus completing its final look. 1989 marked the last year for Conquest and Starion, as their American-made DSM successors — Plymouth Laser and company — were ready for 1990.
Today’s black-on-black Conquest TSi is in very rare form with low miles. Located in Florida, it asks $6,999.