Mitsubishi Magna

12 MOULD BREAKERS

Or how to get suckered by Japanís Trojan horse

ITíS probably not so popular any more, but plenty of people used to play The Magna Game on long trips. Basically, as you set off, each of you tips how many Magnas youíll see between points A and B, and the closest wins. I remember successfully predicting weíd see more than 60 between Canberra and Sydney.

But the Magna didnít just break the mould by splitting the sales dominance of Holden and Ford; it was more important than that.

Conceived in sneaky South Australia, it was the worldís first wide-bodied, mediumsized sedan, and was quickly copied by Toyota with its Camry, which went on to dominate the American market and help to sink Aussie-built Commodores and Falcons.

Yes, the Magna is essentially to blame for everything.

But letís not forget, as much of a simile for bland and common as the Magna became, it was a big leap forward when it was launched in 1985.

Magna replaced the Chrysler Valiant and the size-smaller Sigma as Mitsubishiís family car offering, and used both its front-drive layout and the extra 66mm of width it spliced into the Galant sedanís body to create a competitively roomy cabin.

Mitsubishi Australia then went after its rivals on price, and when you could get a better-specified, more economical and refined package from the Japanese for less money than a Holden or Ford, plenty of people said a brusque farewell to tradition.

And suddenly Magnas were everywhere, filling our roads for 20 years, until Mitsubishi broke the rules again with the impressive 380. Sadly, Aussies didnít show it the same love.

LEAP OF FAITH

Utility, refinement, quality, the Magna had it all, and it made everyone else work harder to compete.

PLUS MINUS

TEST OF FAITH

Driving the competent Magna was never about excitement, so the Camry really did copy its essence.