The Devil’s in the Diamante: 2002 Mitsubishi Magna Ralliart

The early ’00s weren’t the most tasteful time for car design. The Fast and the Furious had tainted a generation of teenagers into thinking 4 inch exhausts, scissor doors and more speakers than friends was cool, and the Japanese automotive scene was still feeling the ripple effects of the housing bubble bursting in 1992. For the duration of the ’90s, they’d made excellent, albeit, conservative cars which middle-of-the-road mums and dads lapped up. It didn’t take Mitsubishi executives long to put the two together and realise they had an image problem. Find this 2002 Mitsubishi Magna Ralliart here for sale in Porepunkah, Vic, for $14,000 AUD ($10,560 USD at the time of writing) via gumtree.

In 2002, when the Ralliart was launched, Mitubishi already had a rakish sports Magna, the VR-X, so the Ralliart had to stand out for itself. As well as the Evo-esque bodykit, which was distinctive at best, power was upped with a higher compression ratio and more aggressive cams to 240hp. You’d be forgiven for guessing that the big Magna was AWD, Mitsubishi had a pedigree of rally cars, and both the name and bodykit evoked that. The prototype was indeed AWD, but the production car was left to drag itself along by the front wheels only, due to budget concerns.

That pretty much summarises Mitsubishi’s attempt at their super sports Magna. Only 500 numbered cars were built (this one is #119), and the seller claims only 150 were made with the manual as seen here. Naturally, a 240hp front driver from the early ’00s was a bit on the lairy side, so Mitsubishi kindly fitted the car with traction control… on the automatic only. They also kindly fitted a limited slip diff… on the manual only.

The Ralliart Magna is the definitive proof that simply putting on showy body extensions and boosting the power output of a car isn’t enough. Now, the Ralliart Magna has faded into utter obscurity, and the Magna has been dead for a decade, itself wiped from many people’s conscious, and the company that built it is receding into shadows fast. There is no better advertisement than quality.

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Michael is a teenager who’s been obsessed with cars since he was able to talk, but has no ability in mechanics whatsoever. His daily driver is a manual transmission Nissan Maxima – the Australian Infiniti I30.