A Dodge Stealth was initially to be used as a pace car for the 1991 Indianapolis 500 race. The United Auto Workers (UAW), however, did not like the idea of a Japanese-manufactured car being a pace car for the race, and a prototype Dodge Viper was substituted.
The first generation incorporated many of Mitsubishi's contemporary performance-enhancing technologies, such as full time all wheel drive, four wheel steering, active aerodynamics featuring automatically-adjusting front and rear spoilers, a tuneable exhaust and electronically controlled suspension (ECS). Visually, the cars featured pop-up headlights and noticeable "caps" on the hood to accommodate the ECS controllers at the top of the strut turrets.
Second generation models are identified by a revised front bumper to accommodate projector beam headlights and small, round projector fog lights. Bigger wheel/tire combinations were also offered. The base and SL model received 16" wheels in silver or chrome with 225/55 tires, while the VR4 now had 18" chrome wheels with 245/40 tires. the caps on the hood were eliminated, and the side air vents and rear bumpers were modified. The interior was redesigned with dual air bags and revised air conditioning refrigerant. The engines in all models received a slight boost in torque. To complement this, the VR-4 now included a six-speed Getrag manual transmission.
As the price of the cars increased, many of the "gadgets" on the car were discontinued. The tunable exhaust was phased out as early as 1994, the ECS disappeared after the 1995 model year, and the active aerodynamics in 1996. Finally, Chrysler ceased sales of the Dodge Stealth captive import, and for the remainder of its life only Mitsubishi-badged versions were available.
In 1995 and 1996, special edition retractable hardtop convertible models of the 3000GT SL and VR-4 were sold in the USA. Customized by ASC in California, these cars had retractable hardtops which could be opened or closed at the touch of a button. It was the first of its kind in America since the 1957–59 Ford Skyliner, and although it was abandoned after two years because of slow sales (1618 units), it presaged a market which would eventually mature the following year with the Mercedes SLK.