It was easy to like the Colt 1100. Unlike many other small cars on offer, the little Mitsubishi had a vivacious personality, it not only being able to reward the enthusiastic driver, but also allowing the more complacent to remain as little affected by the atrocious Australian road conditions of the time far beyond what any small car should.
The Colt 1100 boasted a huge glassed area, most particularly the windscreen, which curved in at the top, making the roof look like a second-thought projection of the body. The design was class leading, and thankfully the engineers equipped the Colt with high quality two-speed wipers, so that even in the wet, visibility was never a problem.
From the driver's seat you looked across the bonnet to angular mudguards, allowing you to correlate with external objects for greater accuracy of driving. Once you got behind the wheel, it was clearly evident that this was a drivers car, even before you put the key in the ignition.
The Colt was also a narrow car, probably visually accentuated to some extent by the treatment of the cabin perimeter and the height, which was a mere 2 1/2 in. less than the width.
However despite its diminutive dimensions, when seated in the Colt's front bucket seats, you quickly became aware of the generous leg and head space. There was even a reasonable amount of leg room in the rear, and
the rear head room was outstanding for a small fastback type of car.
In fact, nearly every feature of medium-size cars was to be found in the Colt, except that is for full-flow ventilation, an innovation that was quickly finding favour with new car buyers.
If you could overlook the ventilation, there was plenty of standard kit on offer. The Colt was equipped with a heater-demister and two speed fan, cigarette lighter, push-button radio, windscreen washers and wipers, courtesy lights and personalised fresh-air ventilation at eitiher end of the fascia.
The lock-down bucket seats had release knobs set in the squabs. Reclining seats were available only in the Deluxe model as standard equipment. Positioning of the pedals was well chosen for easy toeand-heel stopstarts on steep hills.
The fascia wa neat, the majority of push-pull knobs being contained in a frosted centre panel beneath the radio, where they were easily reached by the driver. Twin dials contained the necessary instruments clearly marked in white on black. They were effectively
hooded with safety padding to avoid reflection of light at night onto the w.lndscreen.
The steering was a little on the light side, however was direct. Behind the wheel, the steering offered instantaneous response to the slightest movement. The turning circle was also impressive, at only 29.5 ft.
The Colt Fastback was not a brilliant performer, but neither was it lazy. The four cylinder engine developed 58 bhp. @ 6000 rpm from a 1088cc capacity, with 8.5:1 compression ratio. The maximum torque rating was 59 lb. ft. @ 3800 r.p.m. The torque and the horsepower combined to provide a nippy yet powerful motor car which only exhibited significant power loss on steep hills.
Evenly matched gear ratios on the four-speed, floor operated box, maintained a fairly constant acceleration rate, which only tapered off at
around the 70 mph mark. The maximum speed was 87 mph, with a maximum cruising speed of 81 mph. The gearbox was smooth and fast. The engine was comparatively quiet, even during high cruising speeds, yet suprisingly Mitsubishi used only very minimal sound-proofing. The handling was quite good, with
a slight inclination to body roll, and reasonably neutral steering habits with a tendency to oversteer.
Colt 1100 3-Door Fastback
The 'Colt 1100', which went on sale in 1966, was upgraded and called Colt 1100F in 1967. It had a Colt 1000 KE43 model engine bored out to 1088 cc and the new engine was designated the KE44 and rated at 58 horsepower. The Colt 1100F upgrade for 1968 was an all round improved model that had 82 hp and was equipped with front disc brakes.
The Colt Fastback distinguished itself as a rugged small sedan with excellent performances in some of Australia's toughest car rallies. Although it is was not really a sporting type vehicle, its excellent balance of power and handling enabled it to maintain surprisingly good averages in adverse conditions. Because of its body design, the Colt three-door shared the advantages of both a sedan and a station wagon. The overall finish, interior appointments and riding' characteristics of the car had been greatly improved since the car's introduction.
The first model gave an excellent ride on poor surfaces, but was too soft on better roads. Later model Colt 1100's sorted this problem out satisfactorily, so that the ride on good bitumen was quiet and soft, without any "floating" sensation at cruising speeds. The suspension handled bad road surfaces well. Large potholes, erosion, ruts and corrugations were
ironed out with little suspension noise, no bottoming, and virtually no feed- back shock to the passenger compartment.
The rear end could be made to hang out to any extent on dirt, depending on the amount of throttle used. The Colt could be hurried through twisting gravel bends at quite surprising speeds, with no fear of instability. Despite only having a 1088cc engine, the Colt was fun to drive, and the engine provided a wide pulling range.
Top gear could be used down to just under 20 mph in traffic. The four-speed floor mounted gearbox was precise and well placed. The individual front seats were high enough to give good back support, and the driving position was very good, with reclining seats that could be adjusted
to suit any requirements.
The rear bench seat could be folded down to form a flat surface area, large enough for a couple of children to sleep. There was plenty of room for such large items as golf clubs, weekend shopping or luggage for a long holiday. Access to the rear compartment was through the large tailgate.
An interesting and novel feature of the Colt was the spare wheel cover in the rear compartment. Instead of having a plain wooden cover, Mitsubishi cleverly installed a picnic table.
The table, with springloaded legs, could be set up in the back of the car, or
on the ground.
Colt 1100 3-Door Fastback Super Sports
No doubt the best of the
early Colt's was the Fastback Super Sports, which turned out to be a "giant slayer" in all the rallies that mattered. The amazing debut class win and 4th outright in the 2nd Southern Cross Rally with the Colt 1000F started it all. The actual figures-againstthe clock, though impressive, were fairly irrelevant in terms of total performance. Capable of over 100 mph, the little rocket had been timed at 95 mph; it could achieve the standing quarters in the low-to-mid 18 seconds all day long, and thrashed off 0-50's in 8.9 secs., 0-60's in 11.4 secs. But these are pure dull statistics when related to the Colt's real performance attributes.
In 1968, four Colt 1100F's were entered among the 76 cars competing over the 4,000 km endurance rally course. In the end, the 1100F's surprised the highly experienced teams from Europe when they did even better than the previous, taking 3rd outright and first and second in the under 1300 G class.