Three sport coupes – Eagle Talon, Mitsubishi Eclips, and Plymouth Laser – were a joint project between Chrysler Mitsubishi under DSM (Diamond Star Motors) and built in Normal, Illinois. All were based on Chrysler’s D platform with similar mechanical options. Cosmetic details varied between the three lines, with different wheels, colors, bumpers and taillights. Eagle Talons and Mitsubishi Eclipses were primarily two-tone colors with a black roof, pillars and mirrors, irrespective of the body color.
The first series of the Talon, Eclipse and Laser ran from mid-1989 through 1992 and are known as 1G models. The AWD models launched in mid-1990. All feature pop-up headlights, and engines with six bolts connecting the flywheel to the crankshaft. All models were available with a 5-speed manual gearbox or 4-speed automatic transmission. Base cars had 14-inch wheels, turbocharged models wore 16-inch wheels.
The 1GB model of 1992-94 increased the crank bolts to seven and utilized faster-revving engine internals from the Lancer Evolution, with very high tuning potential. The 1GB can be recognized by composite headlights with integral turn signals and taillights in separate units.
Talon/Eclipse/Laser models shared a common hood design with a distinctive power bubble on the left side to clear the camshaft. Even though the base Talon DL model was front-wheel drive with a normally aspirated four-cylinder engine that didn’t need the hood clearance, it got the bubble anyway.
One step up from this was the Talon with a twin-cam 4G63 naturally aspirated four-cylinder, good for 135 bhp. This was badged as the ES from 1993-94. Top of the line was the Talon TSi available with front- or all-wheel drive. TSi AWD power came from the 195 bhp four-cylinder twin cam or the 2.0-liter 4G63T engine with a Mitsubishi 14b turbocharger with 11 psi of boost. The front-wheel drive TSi had a more restrictive exhaust which cut power to 190 bhp, while the automatic TSi was fitted with the smaller 13g turbo and developed 180 bhp.
Equivalent models for the Mitsubishi Eclipse were the base 92 bhp 1.8-liter single-cam Eclipse and Eclipse GS; then the 135-bhp 2.0-liter twin-cam Eclipse GS 16v. Turbocharged models were the 190-bhp front-drive Eclipse GS-T and the 195-bhp all-wheel drive Eclipse GSX. The base Plymouth Laser featured the 92-bhp 1.8-liter single-cam engine, while the Laser RS utilized the 135-bhp twin-cam 2.0-liter engine. The Laser RS Turbo boasted 190 bhp. The Laser finally got its own RS Turbo AWD in 1992 and it was good for 195 bhp.
The Talon/Eclipse/Laser models were an astute example of “badge engineering” and were an immediate success at a time when small sports coupes ranged from humble to luxurious. They could be fast, too, as a 0-60 time of 6.6 seconds for an AWD TSi is still respectable many years later.
Since this was largely a Mitsubishi design, up against a couple of captive imports it’s not surprising that the Japanese company took the lion’s share of the market. MSRP was generally comparable across all marques and models. For example, the 1991 Eagle Talon ranged from $12,990 for the base FWD DL model to $16,513 for the AWD Turbo TSi, which was an undeniably good performance value at the time.