Since its introduction in 1973 over six million Lancers have been sold.
The Lancer (LA series in Australia, where it was called the Chrysler Valiant Lancer initially) was first launched in 1973 and proved to be particularly successful in rallies, a claim that it retains to this day. At the time of its launch, Mitsubishi had the Minica kei car and the compact Galant, so the Lancer served to fill the gap in the small to lower-medium segment of the growing Japanese market. Twelve models were launched, ranging from a basic 1.2 L sedan to a more powerful rally-derived 1600 GSR model.
There were three body styles, 2-door coupes, 4-door sedans, and a rarely seen 5-door station wagon.
In 1975, the Lancer was complemented by a hatchback coupé called the Mitsubishi Lancer Celeste (also called the Mitsubishi Celeste or Colt Celeste in some markets; it was the Chrysler Lancer Coupé in Australia and the Plymouth Arrow in the United States), and sold with 1.4 L and 1.6 L options (a 2.0 L model was added later).
Facelift and exports
A facelifted Lancer followed soon after, called the LB series in Australia (and without the Valiant tag). It was this series that emerged in the United States as the Dodge Colt for the 1977 model year, taking over from a badge-engineered Mitsubishi Galant from the previous year. It was offered for one more model year before the Dodge Colt name was transferred to the front wheel drive Mitsubishi Mirage.
In 1979, the Lancer EX was unveiled in Japan. Two engines were only offered back then, a 1.4 L MCA-JET equipped engine paired with Mitsubishi's Silent Shaft Technology, which generated 80hp (60kW) and a 1.6 L engine that generated 85hp (63kW) and 100hp (75kW). The MCA-JET system was something new than the used carburator system. The MCA stands for Mitsubishi Clean Air which meant that the EX passes both Japan and US emission standards whilst the new cylinder head design of the engine gave way for a third or Jet valve that introduces an extra swirl of air to the combustion chamber swirling the fuel-air mixture for a cleaner, efficient and thorough burn. Another new breakthrough in the Lancer is the Silent Shaft Technology which is actually two counterbalancing shafts that rotate in opposite directions, cancelling the power pulses a normal 4 cylinder engine would be inherent back then, reducing engine noise and vibration providing a smoother ride. The 1.8 L Sirius 80 engines was then introduced in the Lancer in 1980, along with a new 70hp (52kW), 1.2 L engine a year after providing a wider choice of engines for the Lancer. Also, a turbocharged, 135PS (133hp/99kW) engine was added in 1980 for a sportier performance and an Intercooler system was integrated in the existing turbocharged engine to produce 165PS (163hp/121kW) in 1983.