Spyder-pig, Spyder-pig... for $23,500!

Nice Price Or Crack PipeIs this used car a good deal? You decide!

With their compound eyes, multiple legs and silk-weaving antics, arachnids are pretty complex creatures. Now Nice Price or Crack Pipe wonders if an equally complicated Mitsubishi Spyder can lure you into its web.

Even though its asking price came in a happy-ending massage shy of twelve grand, yesterday's 2002tii could only sway 65% of you to give it a thumbs up. That was more of a squeaker than Tuesday's runaway Nice Price NSX, but then the Acura is something that seems to be on a lot of your personal must-do lists. A car that, back in the day, was somewhat a competitor of the NSX is the Mitsubishi 3000GT VR4. While not quite as expensive new- although much closer in Spyder form- the Mitsu produced some amazing performance numbers making it perhaps a better value at the time. Today we have a '95 3000GT that has an asking price slightly higher than that NSX, and it's up to you to determine if it's something you'd want to sink your fangs into.


Based on the Diamante platform, the 3000GT (and sister Dodge Stealth) was a tour de force of 1990s technology- to wit, in VR4 form it came with a DOHC V6, twin turbos, twin intercoolers, four-wheel drive, four-wheel steering, six-speed gearbox, electronically-controlled suspension and, in the case of the Spyder, an electrically-operated hard-top that could be raised or lowered in less than 19 seconds. The earlier cars (non-spyders) even had active aero-aides that worked above 50 mph.

That sidewinder 3-litre six came from the factory with 320-bhp, which, when applied to all four wheels, would rocket the car to sixty in under six ticks of the stopwatch. Massive four-wheel antilock brakes meant that the big Mitsu could dig deep into the corners, and the stability of all four wheels clawing their way for traction made exits just as fast. But all this tech had its downside. While that Acura was noteworthy for being made mostly of aluminum - and keeping its curb weight under a ton and a half - the 3000GT, with the addition of the retractable hardtop, tips the scales at a portly 4,123-lbs. That means that every one of those 320 ponies has to work with nearly 13-lbs in the saddle. By contrast, the NSX packs only 11-lbs on each of its VTEC-fed steeds.


But there's an answer to weight, and that is more horsepower- which is just what the seller of this 1995 3000GT VR4 Spyder claims to have added with a recent engine rebuild. The arrest-me red drop top is being presently offered at $23,500, but the owner threatens to raise that by two-grand should he get a wild hair and drop in a re-chipped ECM. That's some impressive salesmanship!


The upgrades to the motor are too numerous to mention- and the ad already does- but the claim of a dyno-tested 504-whp is eyebrow raising. That would make for some tire-meltingly good fun, and fortunately he's also throwing in a new set of Toyos, just in case. The car has a little more than 64K on the clock, and has had a run in with something at some point in its life, despite which the seller claims the frame to be true, and the suspension to be sound.


Much like the way fat men strangely are good dancers, the 3000GT handles with aplomb, and it's unlikely that you would be able to reach the car's limits on the street without risking what in latin is known as Licensus Interruptus. But the Spyder can be enjoyed even at only 8/10s, and in fact is a perfectly reasonable 4-season sportscar, what with its winter-traction four-wheel drive and summer-sun drop top. That top, by the way, was not done by Mitsubishi, but by ASC at their Dominguez Hills CA shop. The Nagoya factory in Japan would outfit the cars selected for topless treatment with special reinforcing, upgraded shock and springs and would omit the hatch before sending them on their way. At ASC, 40 new structural panels would be added as the 98-lb plastic top with its related motors and electrics was installed. All that added up to an expensive construction, and a resultant $65,000 list price. That price tag was part of the reason the Spyder only lasted two years, with fewer than 877 VR4 models built.

That makes this car not only fast and furious, but also rare- more rare in fact than the NSX that I inexplicably keep comparing it to. But is it $23,500 fast and rare? Does that price make this a spyder you would want to fly? Or, does that make you think the seller is weaving a web of deceit?


You decide!


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