No, your eyes do not deceive you: that is a Chrysler Conquest—America’s version of the Mitsubishi Starion—painted to look like a car from Initial D or Auto Modellista has been ripped from its alternate reality and thrust into ours. And it’s for sale right now outside Chicago, for the low, low price of $2,500 via Facebook Marketplace.
The listing states the yellow liftback runs and drives fine, but requires some tender love and care with some 135,000 miles on the clock. There’s rust, however, the title’s clean and the description states this particular example has a five-speed manual bolted to the rally star’s 2.6-liter turbocharged G54B inline-four, good for 188 horsepower in its day. The gearbox situation is a little confusing since the bullet points up top list an auto—a key detail you should probably confirm with the seller if you’re interested in this ’80s-to-the-extreme, canary yellow, rear-wheel-drive rocket.
We reckon you should be because just look at it. Sure, this Conquest is far from the first Japanese sports car to be done up in the cel-shaded style made famous in comics and video games, but it suits Chrysler’s captive-import sports car so well, particularly the late-model examples with their dramatically flared fenders. What’s more, the art style has the effect of hiding the vehicle’s wear and tear. You can be sure passers-by will pay zero attention to the rust-boring holes at the corners of the bodywork when they double-take to confirm that no, they aren’t hallucinating. It’d make for a fine conversation piece at your local Radwood gathering, as well.
This Conquest also serves as a reminder that cel-shading and cars always go well together, and we need more media that seizes that potential. Two decades ago, Capcom—the folks behind Street Fighter and Mega Man—put out Auto Modellista, a “car-PG” in the Gran Turismo tradition, except with drifty, arcade physics and a wild art style that left the title’s roster of cars looking much like this Conquest. Unfortunately despite mountains of pre-release hype, the game didn’t sell well, was panned for its oversensitive, wayward steering by critics, and Capcom never made another. I maintain it handles well enough once you get used to it, but alas, nobody’s really tried to deliver a more compelling version of the concept since.
Maybe now’s the time. This week, a game called Bomb Rush Cyberfunk was released across a multitude of platforms. It’s not a racing game, but it is a spiritual successor to Sega’s graffiti, rollerblading romp Jet Set Radio, which fundamentally introduced the cel-shading technique to video games three years before Auto Modellista hit the scene. It looks phenomenal, and it’s got me dreaming once again of a driving title that trades on the motif. Ideally, with a Starion that looks much like this one included in the mix. For what it’s worth, if you happen to reside in the greater Chicago area and would prefer a more normal-looking Conquest, the seller apparently has one of those in their possession as well.