The Mitsubishi Galant Λ (Lambda) is a two-door hardtop coupé built by Mitsubishi from 1976 to 1984. From 1978 it was exported under various names; as the Mitsubishi Sapporo in Europe and South America (named for the Japanese city of Sapporo, Hokkaido), the Dodge Challenger and Plymouth Sapporo in North America and Puerto Rico, and the Chrysler Sigma Scorpion, Chrysler Scorpion and later the Mitsubishi Scorpion in Australia. It was also sold as a Sapporo in the United Kingdom under the Colt brand.
Introduced in Japan in December 1976, the Lambda was described not as a coupé but a "personal luxury car", as Mitsubishi already had the Lancer-based Celeste coupé in its line-up. It competed in Japan with the Toyota Crown, Nissan Cedric, Nissan Gloria, and the Mazda Cosmo coupes newly introduced to Japan. In Australia the car was imported from Japan as a flagship model of Chrysler Australia's highly successful Sigma range.
The car was marketed in North America as a captive import of the Dodge and Plymouth divisions of Chrysler; the cars differed only in minor details such as taillights, interior trim and available colors. Despite being mechanically identical, the Dodge Challenger was positioned to appeal to the performance market while the Plymouth Sapporo was targeted at the luxury market. As in other markets, the Challenger/Sapporo received all new bodywork for the 1981 model year. Originally a 1.6-litre four was also available, but after the facelift North American market cars only received the 2.6-liter inline-four with balance shafts and 105 hp (78 kW).
Although the car received generally positive reviews, it was not overly successful in the United States. The discontinuance of the Sapporo after the 1983 model year helped make way for the products of the newly formed Chrysler-Mitsubishi joint-venture, Diamond-Star Motors, as well as the entrance of Mitsubishi into the American market under its own name.
In the mid-1970s, smaller personal luxury cars were a growing trend, following the success of the Cadillac Seville. Pursuing this idea, the Lambda / Sapporo featured frameless door glass, canopy vinyl roofs, velour interiors, "luxury" wheel covers with whitewall tires, and every possible power accessory inside. A common color combination was bright burgundy with white vinyl. A thick stainless steel targa band at the rear of the roof completed the look, influenced by the Ford Thunderbird.
This apparently did not find great favor in the showrooms, and in 1980 the restyled car reverted to a more conventional style; quieter colors, metal roofs, styled steel wheels on blackwalls, and less trim. Luxurious touches continued to be supplied, however, particularly in the interior. Courtesy lights were everywhere, the fuse box had a fuse test light built in, storage spaces were supplied under the seat and in the console as well as the glove compartment. Mitsubishi drew on its electronics divisions to introduce details such as a high quality stereo with an "invisible radio antenna" built into the trunklid.
Many other changes were also made in 1980. The body was completely redesigned, making it slightly larger and with a more squared off roofline. Additional emphasis was given to ergonomics, aerodynamics, and safety. Shoulder room, leg room, and head space were all increased, and the trunk was slightly enlarged for more luggage capacity. In particular, rear seat passengers received more room for their heads and legs. The shifter was moved closer to the driver, and ventilation was greatly improved. The interior was made quieter with additional carpeting and other acoustic dampening materials and a double-thickness front bulkhead. An electric sunroof was also new.
The car was available with a variety of engines, including diesels, a number of normally aspirated gasoline engines, and one of the earliest applications of the long-running turbocharged 2.0 L 4G63T engine in the top GSR model which also featured independent rear suspension. In the North American market, it was available in one basic configuration, which combined the GSR's close-ratio transmission, a live axle rear suspension and a larger engine. Rear disc brakes and alloy wheels were available together as a package. Other US options were minimal; air conditioning, cassette player, automatic transmission, cruise control, power door locks, power mirrors, power windows, and a moonroof.
The American- , Australian-, and Japanese-market 2.6 L Astron engine helped introduce Mitsubishi's then-new Silent Shaft balance shaft engine technology, which minimized the inherent vibration of a large four-cylinder in-line engine. Japanese buyers were liable for more annual road tax for selecting the 2.6 l engine over the smaller engines, adding to the luxury exclusivity. The US version also featured a "Jet Valve", a small secondary intake valve which improved emissions by enhancing swirl in the combustion chamber, allowing for burning of a leaner mixture. A similar engine without the Jet Valve was available in Mitsubishi built trucks and in the Canadian versions of the Sapporo/Challenger.
Beginning in 1980, Japanese versions of this car were available with electronic fuel injection, or a new 2.3 L Astron turbodiesel engine.
For the 1980 model year (the second generation), the suspension was completely revised, with improved geometry in front and an all new four-link rear suspension. This is also when the turbo models were introduced, which came with independent rear suspension. The second generation also brought variable-assist power steering, which provided greater assistance at low speeds and less at higher speeds. It was also slightly larger, with increased footroom, headroom, and luggage space.
Scorpions compete successfully in rally, circuit, and drag racing, being very similar to Colts and Lancers. The Galant Lambda GSR was the direct predecessor to the Mitsubishi Starion, which was based on the same chassis and drivetrain.