1987 Mitsubishi Magna TN GLX 2.6 ECI from Australia and New Zealand


Choose carefully. Maintain well. Enjoy


A coolant hose let go and cracked the head just three days after purchase. Grrr... :(

Electronic idle controller not working.

Alternator died at 265,000km. Replacement cost me all of 1 hour of my time and $150.

Synchromesh on 3rd gear on its way out.

Air conditioner could be colder. Probably just needs new gas.

Rust in all doors, driver's door worst affected.

Tape deck broken (original equipment tape decks usually have a life span of about 3 years, so not surprised really...)

Driver's seat saggy around the lower back area.

General Comments:

The short version:

Buy one of these with manual transmission, air-conditioning, ECI fuel injection, no structural rust and no oil burning, heed my warning below and enjoy!


The long version:

Warning - If you buy one of these, do the following as soon as you have made your purchase:

- change the engine oil and oil filter

- flush the cooling system

- change ALL cooling system hoses.

Managed to double the price of this car overnight thanks to a stuffed hose. However, at AUD$2,600 ($1,400 for the car, $1,200 for a new head and all the fun bits attached) it's still pretty damn good value for money!


Power, torque and refinement of ECI (Electronically Controlled (Fuel) Injection) models. Smooth as silk and pulls like a train from almost any gear. Considering the price difference between carburettor and ECI models, why would you bother with a carb in the first place?

Ride and handling. Possibly the best ride quality of any vehicle I have ever owned - including my Saab! The rich, characterful tapestry of poorly maintained bitumen that makes up much Australia's urban road system is something that bothers other drivers. On billard table road surfaces, the ride is superlative. The fact that this car handles as well is a nice bonus. Torque steer not as pronounced as you'd expect for a large FWD with over 200Nm of the stuff that makes tree trunks tremble.

Manual transmission and clutch are both quite pleasant to use, other than the synchromesh problem on 3rd gear. It's called 'character'.

Good fuel economy when you let the car's prodigious torque do all the work. Gets a bit thirsty under revs, though.

Pretty comfy, seats 5 Australian-sized adults in relative comfort. GLX trim is basic, but copes with harsh conditions very well. Find an SE Manual (complete with fuzzy velour and extra, buttons to play with) for something less austere.

Despite the inevitable frustrations of a front wheel drive layout, Magnas are quite easy to work on for small to medium-sized jobs.


Benchmark design let down by stupid little oversights, viz: The boot doesn't seal very well. The plastic embellishment between the tail lights, whilst very attractive, has a bad habit of falling off - Gaffa tape is your friend here. The doors are designed in such a way that water traps at the bottom easily and rust sets in and parties on down. Worth spending a weekend or two removing the rust, treating with deoderised fish oil, filling and repainting.

The electronic idle controller no longer functions. All this does is make the car a bit harder to start in the morning. No major drama.

Alternator died (Bosch). Alternators, starter motors, ignition coils etc often retire once a car hits its teens - no matter what brand - because most car makers use components made by Bosch anyway!

The ear-bashing you'll recieve from friends and relatives about how (a) unreliable, (b) uncool or (c) gutless these cars are.

Things that happen to Other Magnas, such as:

Automatics that commit suicide at the drop of a hat.

Timing chains have a habit of going pear-shaped.

Oil burning is common if pro-active maintenance is neglected.

Heads can crack at the slightest provocation (OK, so I walked into that one).

Earlier TM series has a bad habit of developing severe structural rust.

Carb models come with added recalcitrance at no extra charge.


Should you wish to pick my brains about this car, or any other car I have had prolonged exposure to, email me at cooperspaleale@beer.com - cheers!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 9th February, 2002

5th Aug 2002, 22:16

Hi there!

I have a 1990 TP SE manual sedan with 205,000 km on the clock. I bought the car in July 2001 (about a year ago) and apart from relatively little things like the rear brake calliper not letting go, the oil needing a change and the EFI system needing a clean, this car has and has been an excellent set of wheels. Factory alloys make it look pretty, as does the dark tinted windows and maroon paintwork.

As far as performance goes, this car is a prime example of what the TP Magna could do when it was new; I had a compression test done before I bought it and found that 3 cylinders were at 165 psi and the other one was at 160. Not bad for a 12-year-old car with that many k's and a reputation for smoke-blowing...!

I have made things a little easier for the driver of this car (me, at the moment) by installing a Cyclops remote alarm/immobiliser and a Pioneer CD tuner. The standard speakers, while not up to the quality of my girlfriend's 2002 Toyota Corolla, are enough to make your head hurt with the windows up and a particularly bassy song cranking.

The interior is very comfortable, both in space and luxuriousness. This car has stood up well to the inevitable wearing of the driver's seat (it's still very comfy), but I got into the passenger side to clean the dash the other day and didn't want to get out!

I would like to reiterate the comments of the person who wrote this review: choose wisely and these cars will run 3-400,000 km no worries. Go for the cheaper one and lovely things like timing chain tiffs, head woes and electrical issues await you! Get it checked out by qualified personnel, and you will have years of happy motoring!

1987 Mitsubishi Magna GLX 2.6 carb from Australia and New Zealand


A brilliant concept at the time - still good for many families now


Timing chain broke at 260K.

Rust appeared in the body around 300K due to not being under cover.

Smoky ORIGINAL engine needs reconditioning.

General Comments:

Apart from the broken timing chain and a horrible lack of working space under the bonnet, the car has stood up to my punishments remarkably well.

Comfortable, quiet, slow acceleration but long legged gearing is an absolute delight at 140km/hr for hours on end.

Size of car is perfect for dad, mum and 2 kids - not too big for mum, not too small to fit everything in.

Car so good I'm prepared to spend dollars to fix it up rather than find a replacement.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 20th March, 2001

17th Jun 2001, 06:41

If you can spare the expense, the performance can be improved somewhat with extractors and a sports exhaust. I had this done to my old 89 sedan (carby, 5 speed) and it improved the power output on the dyno by 22%. Contrary to popular belief it doesn't improve the fuel consumption (but it doesn't worsen it either) but certainly gives it even more squirt especially for overtaking. I used Mobil 1 in mine, and it did 336,000 km before it got written off in a smash last year. Even after that mileage, it was using just over a litre of oil between 10,000km change intervals.

5th Feb 2002, 03:51

I have a 1986 Magna with an Astron-II motor and the power is poor. It's a 5 speed manual. Does anyone know what can be done to it that's cheap and effective to make it faster? Please email me (professorjames69@aol.com)

29th Apr 2003, 09:58

You said its good for 140 ks/hr for hours on end.

Where can you do those kinds of speeds? Central Australia?

29th Apr 2012, 04:30

I would advise you to buy a manual and study it well.

Do the timing correctly and put a carby kit in it.

Adjust the deflection on the alternator drive belt.

Do an oil change, but use engine flush prior to the oil change. It may help to do a compression check first. Then before you fill the oil, use a bottle of compression additive.

Change ignition leads and plugs.

Use valve and fuel additives.

Replace air cleaner and too.

The mixture on the carby should be adjusted, choke and idle screws and other adjustments.

This may sound a lot, but it will make a big difference, and be an education for you too.

I hope this helps. Email me at gavsummers7@gmail.com

Good luck :)

1987 Mitsubishi Magna SE 2.6 petrol 4 cylinder from Australia and New Zealand


Good reliable wheels


Suffered a cracked head, which I believe was a result of the previous owner overheating the car;

Automatic transmission failure at about 140,000kms;

General Comments:

Interior in excellent condition.

Minimal rust in the body (especially for its age).

Very comfortable, easily takes 5 passengers, excellent on long trips.

Hardly more expensive to run than my last car which was considerably smaller.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 13th March, 2001

1987 Mitsubishi Magna Executive Wagon 2.6 MPI from Australia and New Zealand


Good, cheap family car but be sure to check out thoroughly


CV joints x3.

Tailgate locking mechanism broke.

Gearbox would drop from fourth to neutral for no reason.

Gearbox(?) would 'thump' for several minutes if held in first too long.

Engine noisy, required a new timing chain.

General Comments:

Excellent interior, spacious and comfortable, high level of equipment. Torquey but rough engine, annoying gearbox, disc brakes all round. Sloppy handling, heaps of understeer, body roll and pitching under acceleration and brakes. High fuel consumption for a 4-cylinder.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 8th July, 2000

13th Dec 2000, 05:34

I've also heard that 87'-88' model Magnas aren't that great. Someone I know bought an 87' Magna, (against my warnings). This person had their 87' Magna for about 4 months before the auto gearbox basically died on them. In the gearbox, reverse and neutral became forward gears, so reversing in that car was out of the question.

11th Jan 2002, 14:02

First generation Magnas (TM-TP) are excellent cars to drive with good reliability if you buy one that has a manual transmission and is serviced regularly. If you buy one of these with an auto transmission and/or has suffered neglect, it will end in tears.