9. February 2009 07:32
Welcome to our week dedicated to tuners, more precisely "official" tuners, those tuning houses that were specifically commissioned by car manufacturers to create special models.
When putting this week together we made a little list of tuners to consider who and what we would cover. For a while I was stumped at what I could bring you all that would hopefully pique your interest. I was leafing through one of my Japanese car books last night, 80's-90's cars from the RB Series if you fancy tracking it down, and two cars popped out at me which dovetailed nicely with what we are doing this week here at RSM.
Mitsubishi Debonair AMG
Lets us start this pair of oddities with a real (far) East meets West slice of luxury car goodness. AMG started life building racing engines, in fact they still do, however they are probably best known as the official tuner for Mercedes-Benz. Their partnership with Mitsubishi was relatively shortlived, lasting from around 1986 to the end of the 80's. The Debonair V 3000 Royal AMG, to give its correct name, was the top of the range for the 'new' Debonair, the second generation of Debonairs released in 1986 were the first to be front wheel drive.
So what did this top of the range Debonair give you to warrant it's AMG badge, sadly it would appear not an AMG tuned engine. In fact as far as we can tell the only changes that AMG provided were a bodykit and the alloy wheels. Whilst the Deobnair continued to sell well within its class, the AMG did not fare so well, the price tag was high, even for the bouyant Japanese economy of the time and it would seem the AMG styling didn't set the world alight. This made seeing one on the road in 1986 pretty rare, your chances of seeing one now? Probably restricted to museums and the odd hardcore Debonair fanatic.
Japanese Nostalgic Car did a nice piece on this a while ago. You can also have a look at more photos of the details from the car on this Japanese site.
Lets have a look at a slightly longer lasting partnership.
Isuzu Aska Irmscher
It would seem that being part of one of the largest car groups in the world lets you get access to some great tuning as well. Isuzu has for a long time been part of the GM group, one of the ways it has taken advantage of this is to get Irmscher to provide tuning for some of its range, a tuner we would usually associate with Vauxhall/Opel here in the UK. The partnership this time was much longer lasting and spanned a range of cars, including the Piazza, which also had a touch from Lotus at one point in its life time. I chose the Aska because frankly I'd not seen one before.
The Aska is a mid size family car which in 1998 turned the Honda Accord, no I don't understand that either, however let us not think too hard on that. What we're interested in is the first model of Aska, running from 1983 to 1989, coming in 1.5 and 2litre models the four door saloon was relatively popular. In 1985 though Irmscher turned up and breathed upon it a bit. It received some external styling, but unlike the AMG Debonair the tuning didn't stop there, Irmscher went on to slap a turbo on the engine to wind up the power a bit.
The car has a certain cult status in Japan, and the Aska has its own owners club. I spotted a sticker in the back of one picture of the Aska Irmscher which said "European Spirit by Isuzu", which I think sums it up.
In fact here is the video of the car sporting that sticker :
I hope you'll join us during the rest of the week when we check out what happens when car companies turn their pride and joy over to tuning houses.