The car you see before you wore several different names throughout the world, and indeed more than one within North America. Sigma was Mitsubishi’s largest sedan offering throughout the world — aside from the Japanese domestic market, where it offered the executive-class Debonair (a rebadged Hyundai Grandeur by the Eighties).
Always a showcase for what the brand could accomplish in technology and innovation, the fifth-generation Sigma entered production in 1983. In most markets it wore some form of a Sigma badge, joined here and there by Galant, Eterna, and Sapporo nomenclature. This generation was the first example of a front-drive Sigma, as Mitsubishi adopted such a drive train across all their passenger cars by the end of the decade.
As with many Japanese offerings of the time, the conservative sedan body was accompanied by a more sporty hardtop version. Globally, a staggering 11 engine choices were available, along with automatic transmissions of three and four speeds, as well as a Twin-Stick eight-speed manual and a standard five-speed. In Japan only, a VR trim employed a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder boasting a technology called Cyclone Dash 3×2. Depending on throttle inputs, the engine switched between two and three valves per cylinder on the fly, promising economy and power. Intriguing!
The North American market received only the hardtop sedan body style, which featured a more glassy look via its six-window greenhouse. It debuted locally for 1988, and for a single year was called Galant Σ, which was assuredly pronounced “Galant Eee” by people in the Midwest. By 1989 Mitsubishi saw the error of its ways and renamed the model to Sigma. The name changed accompanied new swirly design alloy wheels.
Mitsubishi realized power, simplicity, and ease of driving were key selling points to people other than the Québecois, so all North American Sigmas received a 3.0-liter V6 engine and a four-speed auto. A short-lived offering, the Sigma was finished by 1990. Mitsubishi then split its lineup.
The model seen here overlapped its last few years of production with the more modern sixth-generation Galant, which was a cheaper and less complex offering. Galant was already on sale, and would continue unabated through 1994 in its contemporary form, while the Sigma name vanished from Galant in all markets. Sigma buyers (however many there were) transitioned instead to a new offering at Mitsubishi, the Diamante. More suited as a luxury competitor, Diamante provided an additional 10 inches of overall length compared to its predecessor Sigma. And BMW styling to boot.
Today’s Sigma is very rare, very clean, and has copiously ruched velour. With 131,000 miles and a transmission solenoid issue, it asks just $1,595.