Take a look at my portfolio, and you’ll see a lot of expensive luxury cars. Occasionally, I might get a bit star struck by a particular favorite, but at the end of the day, I’m there to make the car look at good as possible.

But there are favorites. I’m sure you have them. A BMW M4 is nice, but you might prefer the M3. Maybe you’re a Dodge Viper fan, even though you happen to be shooting a Corvette. You can feel it while you’re out there.

Which brings me to what I shot this week. A Mitsubishi 3000GT. The 3000GT was my first car, a 97 in Caracas Red, so that alone makes this model special. But it goes beyond that; I simply think it’s the most beautiful car ever made.

1997 3000GT SL
My own 3000GT, taken in March of 2001 (note the Twin Towers still in place). I guess this could be considered my very first photo shoot.

A brief history of my history

For me, the ultimate group of cars came in the form of 90s Japanese super coupes. My parents were Nissan fans, and I can remember looking at a red 300ZX in the showroom as they shopped for less exciting family transportation.

The Toyota Supra, Mazda RX-7, Nissan 300ZX, Acura NSX and Mitsubishi 3000GT were the best that Japan had to offer, and maybe I felt the pull toward them because I’m a 90s kid. Or because they looked like an F-14 inside, or the styling was so advanced for the day that I believe you could pluck an FD RX-7 off the street, stick it in the showroom in 2020, and it wouldn’t look out of place.

Of these, I was drawn most to the 3000GT. The big hoop 97-style spoiler, big chrome wheels, long nose and wide body give it the perfect proportions in my eye. And, as these cars were meant to be for grand touring, they offered a comfortable ride and luxurious appointments. To get the equivalent, you’d have to go to Porsche, or Italian, and spend significantly more.

I got my 1997 Mitsubishi 3000GT SL in August of 2000, and I loved that thing for 4 years. I sold it because it:

  • Wasn’t a VR-4.
  • Was automatic.
  • Wasn’t fast, at all.
  • Started to break, a lot.
  • Offered no aftermarket support, aside from a shop called 3SX.

That last point is key. When I bought a 350Z to replace the car, it had not just NISMO’s backing, but an entire list of aftermarket options to customize the car.

Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4 Interior
The interior of the car, with its 3 center gauges, digital LCD climate control screen and myriad of buttons was ahead of its time in 1991.

Inspiration can come from anywhere

These cars are approaching 30 years old, and parts are becoming harder to procure. Finding one to shoot is difficult, and given the current state of Mitsubishi itself, it’s not hard to imagine the cars disappearing altogether. After all, this isn’t a Supra, or even a 300ZX.

How to make this shoot more special? Travel to New York City, specifically Brooklyn, which is one of my favorite places to shoot. This idea came from the video game Gran Turismo 4, which was one of the first games that allowed you to pick a car and place it in a location to shoot. The game featured the Brooklyn water front, underneath the Brooklyn Bridge, and I’ve been hell bent on making this image in real life for 15 years. That particular section was closed, but there were many other locations to visit.

It’s June as I write this, so that means long summer evenings, and beautiful sunsets. We got the perfect day for one.

Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4
We couldn’t ask for a better day to shoot. The Galaxy Pearl White picks up pink and purple hues very nicely.

Enjoy the moment

When you’re shooting a car, you’re there to do a job, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the moment. Take a little time to walk around the car, enjoy the smell of the exhaust, and take a look inside. I hadn’t been inside a 3000GT since I sold mine, a 16 year gap, and it was great to be around one again.

It was also nice to shoot a different shape since I’m mostly working with BMW sedans, so keep that in mind if you’re shooting something new, as it will present new ways to angle the car, and reflect light differently.

Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4 badge
The owner mentioned that even the badging was impossible to find now. But I liked that the ghost of “V” was still there. They say it stands for “Velocity with Reason, secured by 4 of everything” – and this car had plenty of velocity.

Shooting this particular 3000GT

Josh has owned this car for 8 years, and it’s been through 2 engine swaps. The body isn’t perfect, with various dimples, and in general shows its age – I loved it. With its big exhaust, lowered stance and big rims, the car fit the part well. I didn’t really retouch the body that much – I wanted that character to come through. Too often, we’re concerned with creating the perfect image, when really we should focus on making an authentic one.

Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4
An old street in Brooklyn proved to be an excellent spot for the car.
Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4
The coke-bottle shape is a hallmark of 90s car design.

Recreating the 90s

You wouldn’t notice this on Instagram, but I felt it needed a 90s touch. You’ll see a lot of noise and grain in some of the images, as well as an orange hue. It’s subtle, but I wanted to bring back a touch of nostalgia when shooting this 3000GT.

You can do this a few ways. Adding a layer set to “Overlay”, then adding some noise to it from the “Filter” drop down menu on top, or adding some grain in Camera Raw. It gave the images a nice contrast to the always-polished look the Nikon Z7 produces. And it’s good to change up your look sometimes.

This 3000GT wasn’t perfect, and in fact the model itself never was. It was heavy, complex and usually lost to one of its rivals in comparison tests. But to me, it’s the perfect car, and it made for some great images. Enjoy!

Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4
An apartment building’s lighting fixtures proved the perfect backdrop.
Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4
Taken in my own car (one hand on the wheel) in a spray and pray fashion.
Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4
Sometimes you can get a perfect lens flair without any post production work.
Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4
Rollers are always a must.
Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4
The signature shot. We drove around Brooklyn at night and just happened to find this random wall. The 90s tie-in was to perfect to pass up.

Feel free to email me at mike@machineswithsouls.com with any questions.

Follow along on Instagram @machineswithsouls

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