1996 Eagle Talon TSi
4-cyl. 121cid/210hp MPFI Turbo
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For 1995, the second generation 2G version of the Mitsubishi Eclipse and Eagle Talon was launched. The Plymouth-branded version called the Laser was dropped, but production of the other two versions hummed along at the Normal, Illinois factory operated by Mitsubishi and Chrysler’s Diamond Star Motors (DSM) venture. The turbocharged versions of the Eclipse/Talon received an intercooled Garrett T25 unit which was smaller and spooled up faster – reducing turbo lag. Pressure increased to 12 psi and horsepower was boosted to 210 bhp (205 with the automatic transmission). The twin-cam non-turbo engine was now the same as the Dodge Neon, and no longer Mitsubishi designed. It developed 140 bhp.
The 2G front suspension was significantly improved, with double wishbones up front instead of the McPherson struts in the 1G models. The track was wider, the wheelbase longer and the new body said to be 50 per cent stiffer than the outgoing model.
The appearance of Eagle and Mitsubishi models became more distinct as well. Talons had a black roof while the Eclipse was body colored. The Talon’s rear bumper had a dip in the middle for the license plate and amber turn signals instead of the red ones in the Eclipse. The Eclipse also had lower reversing lights, rather than including them in the tail light cluster. The Talon TSi and TSi AWD had a black curved rear spoiler at the base of the rear window, while the Eclipse spoiler was body colored and more conventional.
Both models received a distinct redesign for 1997 to give a more aggressive appearance. The Eagle Talon received a larger air intake and the eagle emblem was embossed into the nose. A new rear spoiler projected into the airstream, replacing the curved wing. Turbocharged models now had 17-inch wheels and four-wheel disc brakes were fitted.
A highly competitive little car on track, the Eagle Talon won the SCCA World Challenge touring car championship in 1990-91 and won the GT Touring Car Championship from 1993-95. Eddie Garrison was named Rookie of the Year in the 2007 Grand Bayou Race Series in Louisiana, driving a 1997 Talon TSi. Next year he won the Touring Car Class in the same car.
Today, Eclipses and Talons of this era are difficult to find in clean, unmodified condition. They were affordable and tunable, which can be a dangerous combination. A good example, however, can be a fun and rewarding car for someone who appreciates these distinctive and interesting bits of Chrysler/Mitsubishi history.