The Dodge Stealth, a Mitsubishi 3000GT in Dodge clothing, was an evolutions from the Mitsubishi Starion (Chrysler Conquest). Chrysler’s official communication was that “Stealth’s design is the result of the collaborative effort between Chrysler and its Japanese partner, Mitsubishi Motors Corp.”
The Stealth was sold in four levels, base, ES, R/T, and R/T Turbo; the latter had a twin-turbocharged version of the 3-liter engine sold in Chrysler minivans; all wheel drive for traction; four-wheel steering; and antilock brakes.
The Dodge Stealth’s body was aerodynamic, with a 0.33 drag coefficient; the sides had sculpted air dams, and the rear spoiler was standard, as were the “blister covers” on the hood for the strut towers. The R/T Turbo had radiator and intercooler intakes in the front air dam. The all wheel drive was advanced for the time; fewer cars had all wheel drive at the time than now.
The four-wheel independent suspension was unique, with four-wheel toe control, electronic control (optional except on base models, and providing tour and sport settings), extra-wide tracks, main and secondary front cross-members, a dual isolation system, and a sway bar on the secondary cross-member (with ball joint links connecting it to the lower arms). The steering gear was mounted to the main cross-member. Negative offset geometry automatically counter-steered tires towards the low-grip side.
The rear suspension had a self-aligning toe mechanism and dual wishbone/trailing arm design, for a passive four-wheel steering system. The electronic controller monitored steering, speed, brake, throttle, and G-force sensor data to control the shock absorbers. P245/45 ZR17 low-profile tires were optional except on R/T Turbo, where they were standard.
The standard four wheel steering allowed the two rear wheels to pivot in the same direction by as much as 1.5 degrees. At low speeds, it acted like a conventional system; at higher speed (over 30 mph) and lateral acceleration, the system varied the way in which the rear wheels followed the fronts.
The engine was set up in three states of tune, producing from 164 to 300 horsepower. It used an iron block with a 60-degree V design and aluminum alloy, with pent-roof chambers and center spark plugs. The valve train used roller rocker arms, automatic valve lash adjusters, and a timing belt tensioner. Multiple-point fuel injection had a vortex sensor to monitor air volume; the ignition was distributorless, with dual coils.
The standard transmission was a five-speed manual (a six-speed on 1995-96 turbos), with a four-speed automatic optional.
Inside, the Stealth had a “cockpit” design, with a wraparound dashboard, leather driver's seat with lateral support and adjustments for height, tilt, lumbar support, and side support. Gauges were backlit in amber for high visibility at night. With the R/T, air conditioning was automatic, and the stereo boasted a 100-watt amplifier with six speakers — tweeters in the dashboard, 6-inch round speakers in the doors, and 6x9 speakers in back. A driver's airbag was standard, along with three-point belts for all occupants.
All Dodge Stealth cars had four-wheel disc brakes with large ventilated rotors; all but Turbo used two-piston front brake calipers, 15-inch front brake discs, and 14-inch rear brake discs. The turbo model went up to 16-inch front discs, 15-inch rear discs, and four-piston front calipers. Antilock brakes were standard on R/T models, and optional on lower models; they included a G-sensor to measure deceleration when AWD was ordered. All wheel drive had a 45/55 front/rear torque split; the rear differential was a viscous coupling limited-slip model.
Stealth was a potent vehicle, especially with the turbocharger, but even without it; it was fast and handled well. The Stealth R/T Turbo could do 0-60 in under five seconds, a stunning time especially for the period. The all wheel drive must have helped, greatly reducing or eliminating wheelspin on launch. Only price kept it from greater popularity.
The 1991 Dodge Stealth was supposed to be the pace car for the Indy 500, and remained the official pace car, but outcries over a vehicle made in Japan pacing “America’s Race” prevented that from happening, and a Dodge Viper was hastily assembled in its place.
The Stealth continued into 1992 unchanged other than an optional sunroof. In 1993, a stronger forged steel crankshaft was used on all versions of the engine, and on the turbocharged engine block was altered, with sturdier four-bolt caps added to the main bearings (instead of two-bolt main caps with stay brackets to help support the center bearings.) A four-speaker stereo CD or cassette player was optional on lower models; new features included remote keyless entry, leather seats, tailgate wiper/washer, rear spoiler on Stealth and ES, and composite-face wheel covers; a trunk mounted CD changer was available; and the ES sill molding became standard on the base model.
The big news for 1994 was a gain in turbo engine power, up to 320 horsepower with 315 lb-ft of torque; the five-speed manual transmission was changed to a six-speed. The claimed 0-60 time was just 5.3 seconds — excellent then, and still good in 2016.
In addition to the underhood improvements, the Stealth gained aero-style projector-type headlights and projector fog lights. Buyers could get an Infinity speaker system as an upgrade to the Ultimate Sound radio with cassette player; the Infinity system had a 150-watt four-channel power amplifier and eight speakers, including 6-inch woofers in the front doors.
Tires changed for 1994, with redesigned Eagle GT all-season radials for better ride and handling; the Eagle GS-D and GS-C tires replacing the Gatorback series were quieter, had better wet performance, and similar or better dry handling. (GS-D was standard on R/T, GS-C on Turbo). For safety, Mitsubishi and Dodge added a passenger air bag and driver knee bolster — and, with its new power, the Dodge Stealth R/T Turbo got largerbrake pistons in front, with dual-piston fixed calipers replacing the single-piston sliding calipers in back.
Thanks to Nick Melnick for catching our mistakes.
In 1995, the ES was dropped (leaving Base, R/T, and R/T Turbo). R134a refrigerant replaced the old R12.
For 1996, its closing year, the base engine got black valve covers; all powertrains gained OBD II on-board diagnostics; there was a new rear spoiler; leather was made optional on base and grained leather was available on R/T. A Pirelli P-Zero 245/40ZR18 tire option was added with chrome wheels.
All Dodge Stealth and Mitsubishi 3000GT cars were made in Nagoya, Japan.
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