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Mitsubishi FTO

Mitsubishi FTO
File:1994 fto gpx mivec.jpg
1994 FTO GPX (pre-facelift) in "Pyrenées Black"
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
Transmission 5-speed manual
4-speed semi-auto (1994–97)
5-speed semi-auto (1997–2000)
Wheelbase Script error: No such module "convert".
Length Script error: No such module "convert".
Width Script error: No such module "convert".
Height Script error: No such module "convert".
Curb weight Script error: No such module "convert".

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)

File:Mitsubishi FTO.JPG
Mitsubishi Galant Coupé FTO
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) 1378 cc 4G41 "Neptune" engine, until it was replaced via a redesign in February 1973 by a brace of 1597 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 1439 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. Production gradually came to an end in August 1975, after the introduction in March that year of the more staid Lancer Celeste.

The New FTO Models

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 inline-four 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 most 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, restyled front lip and indicator/fog lighting arrangement. On the pre-facelift 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. (These can be seen, either side of the number plate, in the image of the yellow GPX Limited Edition below).

By 2000, in the MMC Company Report, the now phased 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..." 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–February 1997 (Pre-Facelift)

The inline-engined GS was the base model in the FTO range, with 14" wheels and automatic climate control (auto-aircon). The rear spoiler was an original equipment option on both the GS and GR. The larger-engined V6 GR also had auto-aircon and 15" wheels. Completing the range was the V6 MIVEC-engined GPX with 16" alloy wheels, sporting a rear spoiler and side air dams as standard. All three of these models gained various refinements prior to the introduction of the facelift versions and many models were purchased fitted with a number of original options that were available, such as ABS, traction control and a passenger air bag.

Prior to the introduction of the facelift models a GP model was introduced in 1996, together with a later 'semi-race spec' Nakaya-Tune package.

The first appearance of the Mitsubishi-designed Invecs-II semi-automatic Tiptronic gearbox, licensed from Porsche,[5] was at the launch of this FTO model range. The auto models are, therefore, sometimes referred to as 'Tip' or 'Tiptronic' FTOs. Driven manually, the box 'learns' the driver's style for when in auto mode.

Model name Model code (VIN) Engine Peak power
GS DE2A HNUE (5-sp. M/T)
DE2A HRUE (4-sp. A/T)
1834 cc SOHC 16 valve I4 Script error: No such module "convert". at 6000 rpm
GR DE3A HNHM (5-sp. M/T)
DE3A HRHM (4-sp. A/T)
1998 cc DOHC 24 valve V6 Script error: No such module "convert". at 7000 rpm
GR Limited Edition (1995) DE3A HNHM3 (5-sp. M/T)
DE3A HRHM3 (4-sp. A/T)
GR Sports Package DE3A HNHM4 (5-sp. M/T)
DE3A HRHM4 (4-sp. A/T)
GPX DE3A HNGH (5-sp. M/T)
DE3A HRGH (4-sp. A/T)
1998 cc DOHC MIVEC 24 valve V6 Script error: No such module "convert". at 7500 rpm
GPX Limited Edition "COTY" (1995) DE3A HNGH2 (5-sp. M/T)
DE3A HRGH2 (4-sp. A/T)
GP (Feb 1996) DE3A HNFH (5-sp. M/T)
DE3A HRFH (4-sp. A/T)
GP Special (1996–97) DE3A HNFH2 (5-sp. M/T)
DE3A HRFH2 (4-sp. A/T)

The power plant of each model can be quickly identified in the engine bay, with the oil cap on the right of the engine cover for the 2.0 DOHC V6 and on the left for the 1.8 SOHC and 2.0 DOHC MIVEC V6. On MIVEC-engined models the front brake calipers are larger, with twin-piston operation, compared to the single piston units of the other models. The rear single piston calipers are common across the range. (Some owners may have updated the rear units with those of the larger piston, used on the Evo I/II/III and/or the front units with the larger calipers as used on the GTO)

File:Mitsubishi FTO GPX Limited Edition.jpg
The FTO GPX Limited Edition "94–95 Japan Car of the Year"

GPX Limited Edition

FTO COTY "94-95 Japan Car of the Year" badge. (Also shows OEM Option wind deflector, for all FTO models)

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.[6] It is usually referred to, via 'Car Of The Year' acronym, as the FTO "COTY".

Nakaya-Tune FTO

The Nakaya-Tune FTO was a limited edition pre-facelift package introduced 16 January 1997.[7] The car was tuned by Akihiko Nakaya, driver of a Taeivon Trampio 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.[8] The suspension was lowered by Script error: No such module "convert".. The Nakaya-Tune branded package was available on Mivec-engined models.[7]

Although the FTO Nakaya-Tune brochure displays 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,[9] totaling 122[10] 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.

February 1997–July 2000 (Facelift Models)

File:Mitsubishi FTO GPX facelift model.jpg
1997 GPX facelift model in 'Icecelle Blue', fitted with OEM option aero rear spoiler & HID kit.
File:Mitsubishi FTO GPvR Interior.JPG
GP Version R (Scotia White) model interior with distinctive blue seats. This interior also shows the three-spoke Momo airbag wheel & manual climate control.
Rear detailing of a GP Version R Aero Series model (Pyrenées Black), showing spoiler side fin and boot logos.
Rear side panel "MIVEC" logo (This example on COTY model)

In February 1997 the FTO model range was given a facelift with a new front bumper arrangement, usually referred to by FTO enthusiasts as "facelift" models.[11][12] The original two air intakes became one large single intake, blended in to a full width forward-facing front splitter. The two supplementary fog and indicator paired units became four separate circular lights, each recessed into the new bumper. The headlamp internals were also changed to incorporate the vehicle's side lights, but their external design remained. An HID Option was also made available.

The rear spoiler also underwent a redesign to an aero wing, which phased in during 1997 as standard equipment on some models, such as the GP Version R. After it's late introduction in the pre-facelift era, the now facelifted GP was given a full styling make-over with a 'Version R' tag - heralding a further external styling feature with this new large spoiler (also fitted as standard on both the GP and GX Aero Series models, or as an OE option for other models).

The GP Version R model was produced in Scotia White, Passion Red or Pyrenées 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 Pyrenées Black body color; uprated suspension - 20 mm front anti roll bar instead of 17 mm and a 20 mm rear anti roll bar rather than 18 mm; limited slip differential and the redesigned rear aero spoiler. A "Version R" decal also features on the two spoiler side wings and on the nearside of the front lip. As this model was lightweight, items such as side skirts, front fog lights, climate control, electric folding mirrors and sound insulation were left out. The later Version R Aero and GX Sports Package Aero models feature an "Aero Series" decal on the offside rear of the boot lid.

A further refinement to the facelift range was the GX model, with a 3 mm wider bore in the throttle body (increased from 60 mm to 63 mm and mated to the plenum bore), helping to provide the additional 10 PS over the earlier GR model engine. On the GS and GR models aircon operation became manual from Feb 1997.

The LSD option, found standard on the pre-facelift GPX Limited Edition, was of a viscous type. However, by 1997 this option for the facelift models, found standard on the GP Version R, was similar to that of a Quaife type.

Model name Model code (VIN) Engine Peak power
GS (Feb 1997) GF-DE2A HNUE (5-sp. M/T)
GF-DE2A HRUE (4-sp. A/T)
1800 cc SOHC 16 valve inline-four Script error: No such module "convert". at 6000 rpm
GR (Feb 1997) GF-DE3A HNHM (5-sp. M/T)
GF-DE3A HRHM (4-sp. A/T)
2000 cc DOHC 24 valve V6 Script error: No such module "convert". at 7000 rpm
GPX (Feb 1997) DE3A HNGH (5-sp. M/T)
DE3A HYGH (5-sp. A/T)
2000 cc DOHC MIVEC 24 valve V6 Script error: No such module "convert". at 7500 rpm
GX Sports Package (Feb 1997) DE3A HNXM (5-sp. M/T)
DE3A HYXM (5-sp. A/T)
2000 cc DOHC 24 valve V6 Script error: No such module "convert". at 7000 rpm
GX Sports Package Aero Series
(Nov 1997)
DE3A HNXM4 (5-sp. M/T)
DE3A HYXM4 (5-sp. A/T)
GP Version R (Feb 1997) DE3A HNFH3 (5-sp. M/T)
DE3A HYFH3 (5-sp. A/T)
2000 cc DOHC MIVEC 24 valve V6 Script error: No such module "convert". at 7500 rpm
GP Version R Aero Series
(Nov 1997)
DE3A HNFH4 (5-sp. M/T)
DE3A HYFH4 (5-sp. A/T)

The end of an era

In July 2000 new side impact safety standards were to take effect in Japan. With the FTO sales moving at an ever slower pace, it was deemed not cost effective to update the car and it was thus discontinued.

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 and also distinct variations to the drive shaft units across the range. Such as 25 or 27-spline shafts and CV cup variants, as well as fitment for ABS or non-ABS shafts and bearings for same.

Electric FTO (1999)

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 Script error: No such module "convert". in 24 hours in December 1999.[13][14]


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.[15]

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


Promo Video (Pre-facelift)

Japanese promotional footage of the early FTO was also released in 1995[16] 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).

Top Gear (Facelift)

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.[17]

FTO - Europe's fastest FWD (2014)

Since 2009 the highly modified FTO of owner/driver Richard Batty has consistently popped up in British drag race runoff results through the years. In 2014 Batty finally gained a new European FWD Record with 8.859 at 174.59 mph in his Script error: No such module "convert". EVO-engined FTO.[18]


During the relatively short production period of the FTO there were original equipment catalogues of a host of options made available. Many items were cosmetic in nature, such as stickers or chromed goods, although more substantial styling pieces such as side skirts and spoilers were also available. Practical items such as a passenger air bag, installed in the dashboard above the glove box, or ski-racks were also listed. There were also special 15 and 16 inch PIAA alloy wheels. Strut braces, as found standard on the GP Version R for example and machine-stamped 'RalliArt', 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 at King Street in Dudley. These included installation of an aftermarket rear fog-light and its illuminated dashboard 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) (referred to as TCL on FTOs) 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 six brake pipes emerging, will be present behind the battery and down against the bulkhead. ABS was standard equipment on facelift models.

The base GS and GR models came without a rear spoiler, which was an OEM Option.

Bodywork Colors

The FTO models were available in the following 12 colors,[19][20] 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)
  • Scotia White - Code W83/Part No MZ101901 (Pure white)

Period 1994-1997:

  • Moonlight Blue - Code T88C/Part No MZ101942 (Very dark 'Navy' blue)
  • 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 1996-2000:

  • Symphonic Silver - Code A26A/Part No MZ101952 (A light metallic warm grey)
  • Icecelle Blue - Code T73/Part No MZ101977 (An 'pearlised' 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

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

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.

Model Codes

The model code, usually consisting of 4 digits and stamped on the VIN plate (i.e. HNUE), can be read left-to-right as follows:
Body Style: H = 2 door coupe
Transmission: N = 5-speed manual / R = 4-speed auto / Y = 5-speed auto
Model Type: U = GS model / H = GR model / G = GPX model / X = GX model / F = GP model
Engine: E = 1.8 16v / M = 2.0 V6 / H = 2.0 Mivec V6
(Numeric suffixes to these 4 digits generally indicate later model build changes)

A DE2A prefix refers to the 16-valve engine. A DE3A prefix refers to either of the 24-valve engines.


Whilst Mitsubishi was given some media attention in 2004 regarding various vehicle defects,[21] the FTO had four relatively minor defects requiring manufacturer recalls in its history - three of which were in 2004, some four years after production ceased.

Recall code KJ-0087-0: On 840 models manufactured between 3rd Oct and 7th Nov 1994 (DE2A chassis models, numbered 0000208 to 0000293 and DE3A chassis models, numbered 0000255 to 0002977) a defect existed in a retainer used in the auto transmissions.[22] Recalled and corrected models (24th Nov 1994) have a white paint 'dot' on the 'V'-shaped lever at the top the gearbox.

Recall code RJ-1122-1: Between 3rd Oct 1994 to 3rd Mar 1995 - on 1,251 DE2A models (chassis numbers 0000008 to 0001566) and 11,816 DE3A models (chassis numbers 0000025 to 0013017) - a section of wiring in the loom relating to idle speed control (aka 'stepper motor') was too short, resulting in fracture disconnection of wires at the motor due to long-term engine vibration.[23] (The older stepper motor unit itself also has/had a brown/khaki color plastic unit. Replacements are black plastic).
Recall code RJ-1122-2: For the same dates and models in recall above, the bracket securing the glovebox had insufficient space to a wiring loom, possibly causing interference to the wiring due to long-term vibration. Symptoms being a blown fuse, starting failure and/or failing screen wiper operation. This affected 1,305 of those DE2A models and 12,375 of the DE3A models.[24] Both recall instances and corrected models (18th Jun 2004) have a white or yellow paint 'dot' on the bottom bolt head of the passenger door lower hinge.

Recall code RJ-1249-0: On 2,354 models built between 16th Dec 1994 to 6th Jan 1995 - (341 DE2A models, chassis numbers 0000765 to 0001133 and 2,013 DE3A models, chassis numbers 0004851 to 0009205) - a wiring loom was too close to the retaining screw of the dashboard bonnet-release bracket.[25] The result of long-term vibration could result in fracture of wiring and symptoms such as indicator or speedometer failure. Recalled and corrected models (28th Sep 2004) have white or yellow paint 'dot' on the head of the retaining screw.

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. ^
  6. ^ Production Figures,
  7. ^ a b "NAKAYA TUNE編" [Nakaya Tune Edition]. ゆうぞうのホームページ [Yuzo homepage] (in Japanese). Retrieved 2015-03-27. 
  8. ^ "General FTO Information - Limited Editions", Steve Hemming,
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ "MMC to display futuristic products at Exhibition of Dream Technologies for the 21st Century", Mitsubishi Motors press release, July 12, 2000
  14. ^ "Mitsubishi EV Sets New World Record; Covers 2000km in 24 hours", Mitsubishi Motors news release, December 20, 1999
  15. ^ "Autotrader Awards",
  16. ^ "FTO 'Promotional Video' footage",
  17. ^ "FTO 'Top Gear' review",
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Complete FTO", Complete
  20. ^ "Camskill",
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^