In early 2016, Mitsubishi shuttered its Normal, Illinois plant after years of dwindling sales and a shrinking footprint in the American marketplace. The company has become so small in the last few years that it’s become little more than an afterthought, and in recent years, the automotive press has began to circle, sensing that the death watch has begun.
But it wasn’t always this way. In the early 2000s, the Illinois plant was cranking out over 200,000 cars a year, thanks to strong showing from models like the Eclipse, Galant, and Outlander. It opened the plant in 1988 in a partnership with Chrysler, under the name Diamond-Star Motors, a company that offered both Mitsus and captive import Chrysler models. The American brand pulled out in 1992, but Mitsubishi carried on for another decade or so before the real problems started.
As bleak as it may seem, good times may be just around the corner. The company has seen sales increases every year since 2012, and with nearly 100,000 sold in 2016, sales have increased 60% since then. Customers are responding to the entry-level Mirage and the competitively-priced Outlander Sport, and with a new full-size Outlander gaining steam, the brand is clawing its way back to relevancy.
As the company rebounds, here are eight classic Mitsus to remind us that the company is capable of great things.